Pollinator Plant Sale

Come out and find some wonderful additions for your garden that will attract beautiful butterflies and help grow the pollinator population! We will be holding our Pollinator Plant Sale on Saturday, September 24th from 9am – noon.

This will be an old fashioned sale in the parking lot with wagons full of plants and Nita sitting under the tent with a cash box! Our MarketPlace is still under construction, and we can’t hold the sale up top (don’t think the wedding folks would appreciate that) – so we are setting up in our lower parking lot area. Watch for us as soon as you turn on Pat Ryan Drive. Great plants AND the Butterfly Girls (Fairn and Suzanne) will be with us, ready to share lots of great information about our Gulf Coast butterflies!

photo credit: Brad Boland

Here’s a quick list of some of the plants we will have Saturday:

Asclepias curassavica (blood flower)
Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Gold’
Broccoli Arcadia
Broccoli Blue Wind
Broccoli DeCicco
Broccoli Santee
Broccoli Spigariello
Butterfly Milkweed in quart pots
Cardinal Spears 5 gallons – big plants with nice blooms
Centrathemum intermedim
Cuphea ignea
Cuphea leave ‘Mary’s Bat Flower’
Firecracker plant gallons
Firetower (Clerodendrum paniculatum) gallons blooming and 5 gallon blooming
Fleshy milkweed in quarts
Gloxinia evita
Gloxinia sylvatica
Hellianthus angustifollus ‘Mellow Yellow’
Herb – Basil
Herb – Lemon Balm
Herb – Oregano
Herb -Thyme
Justicia leonardi
Malvaviscus arboreus
Mexican heather gallons
Mexican salvia
Odontonema strictum
Paw paws (seedlings)
Plumbago auriculata ‘Imperial Blue’
Ruella brittoniana ‘Katie’
Ruellia elegans
Russelia equisetiformis gallons
Russelia sarmentosa gallons
Salvia coccineum ‘Forest Fire’
Salvia elegans
Salvia leucantha (white Mexican salvia)
Salvia mexicana ‘Lime Light’
Salvia purpurea
Salvia uliginosa
Salvia X Indigo Spires
Turks turban hibiscus
Turnera ulmifolia
Wavy leaf milkweed in quarts

Wednesday, September 21st, 10 – 11:30am
Come share the excitement of attracting butterflies to your garden! Join the butterfly girls as they explain the special relationship between the Monarch butterfly and the Gulf Coast. Learn how to attract not only the Monarch to your garden, but also 10 or more other local species. Learn to distinguish a host plant from a nectar plant and how to garden with native plants. Stunning videography and photography will enhance identification of local butterflies and their host and nectar plants. Depending upon availability, actual butterflies, caterpillars, and chrysalises will be on display. Please email or call (251-342-0555) to register.
Free for Members / $10 Nonmembers

Many of you might have seen Brad Boland walking around the Gardens and getting upclose and personal with all of the plants and wildlife. Starting this fall, Brad will be teaching Macro and Closeup Photography classes that will help you to capture the world around you.

Future classes to be offered by Brad Boland at MBG- Dates TBD

Introduction to Close Up and Macro Photography
This class is intended to provide an overview of macro photography equipment, Shooting modes that work best, composition for close up shots, and a photowalk in the garden. (2 hours)

Shots that Work: Macro Photography Settings and Composition
This class provides a more advanced look at good starting points for DSLR closeup photography, how to adapt the settings in different lighting, and do’s and don’ts of composition. An hour and a half photowalk will follow the class. (2.5 hours)

(DSLR and a basic understanding of the mode dial settings is required.­ If not, Best to take the class, “Shots that Work,” first) Walk the garden together practicing the best ways to compose and shoot various flowers, insects, and other creatures. (2.5 hours)

Drab to Fab: Basic Lightroom Editing
(a laptop with a recent version of Lightroom is required) Bring out and light up the subject and make photos pop with color.

Please email the office if you would like to be notified when dates are set.


The premiere was a great success! There will be a second showing of the movie at the Crescent Theater on Sunday, September 25th at 4pm. Tickets may be purchased at the Crescent Theater or through their website.


Written and Produced by Fairn Whatley and Suzanne Damrich
A story of the Monarch, its vanishing habitat and its unique relationship to the Gulf Coast…

Premiering Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 at the Crescent Theater

Mobile Botanical Gardens is proud to present the “eclosure” of a stunning visual story of the monarch butterfly and the effect of vanishing milkweed on its future. The gala, benefitting Mobile Botanical Gardens, starts at 7pm at the Larkins Music Center at 257 Dauphin Street with a Champagne and Dessert Reception. The premier of the film will follow at the Crescent Theater, with the introduction of the film by Fairn Whatley and Suzanne Damrich.

No paper ticket will be issued, instead your name will be on our guest list for the night of the event.

Brought to you by the generosity of:
Andrew Saunders
Erin Wheeler
Charmaine Anthony and Kirsten Kraljevic
Donna and Joe Camp
Elizabeth Downing
Helene Hassell
Kitty and Mike Meshad
Carlos and Harold Parkman
Greer and David Wilhelm
Cheryl McCormick-Hann—EdwardJones

Watch the beautiful movie trailer below!


Afternoon class runs from 1-3PM
Evening class runs from 6-8PM

Bill has expanded the course to include more of what you need to know to successfully garden in our unique Gulf Coast area. This is a fun, hands-on class and you get Bill’s undivided attention!

Members: $150 (code applied at checkout)
Non-members $180

– includes all instructional materials, hands-on learning opportunity, garden tours and fabulous snacks.



Bill Finch, our gardening guru, will be the instructor for this 8 week course

Bill Finch, our gardening guru, will be the instructor for this 8 week course

Help Us Reach our $500,000 Goal! As of 9/29/2016 - $477,48695%

Mobile Botanical Gardens was founded 42 years ago with the mission of creating and maintaining what has now become a 100-acre treasure in the center of Mobile, with resources committed to education, preservation and aesthetic enjoyment. The Gardens are home to significant, rare and internationally recognized collections of camellias and azaleas, and encompass one of the largest urban longleaf forest habitats in the country. We are expanding our classes, programs and events to include monthly offerings with something of interest for everyone, and we continue to seek better ways to make available plants that are well-suited to our Gulf Coast climate. Our plans also include improvement of the appearance and security of our facility to make it a place that Mobilians will be proud to call their own.

An advance gift of $120,000 made in memory of longtime supporter Carolyn Saunders, and a performance contract for $150,000 from the City of Mobile, will provide a substantial portion of the funds needed to make improvements to our grounds and buildings. As a result of these improvements, we will have a more attractive entry, better accessibility and security, updated software for online sales, improved facilities, and an appealing, well-organized area for frequent plant sales and other public and private events.


The Gardens’ plant collections and educational programs are the most important ingredients in fulfillment of its mission to promote the appreciation, study and preservation of native and cultivated plants of all kinds. Some examples of success in this regard are: the scale and significance of the Aromi expansion of the Rhododendron and Azalea Garden; the new butterfly garden on our hillside which will create a splendid palette of colors in summertime; the good health of the 35 acre longleaf forest due to controlled burns, which in turn now provides one of the largest and most impressive wildflower meadows of any garden in the country; and the establishment and recognition of the WinterGarden as a Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society. Maintaining these collections and sharing them with the public requires equipment, supplies and many hours of labor. The public’s investment in this community resource helps to insure that plants and habitats we now take for granted will be available for generations to come.


In order to enhance our appeal as a destination for events and as a display garden, we need additional staff, more efficient drainage, solid surface walkways, security fencing, better lighting, and improved accessibility for those with limited mobility. In the future we will build a structure at the entrance for collection of admission fees.

Our Botanical Center is remembered fondly by many Mobilians for its use as a rustic, open air place for Scouts and square dancers to gather. Over the years it has been enhanced to become a popular site for weddings, reunions, and other celebrations; and we now have a venue management team overseeing events booked well into 2017. In order to assure that the Gardens maintains and increases its share of the market for such events, we must continue to make them more attractive and functional with amenities and accessories such as lighting, tables and a tent of a size that will accommodate large events.

The Larkins Learning Center is seeing increased usage as a location for business meetings and educational classes but it too is showing its age. It needs more modern lighting, new blinds and some general upgrades to make it a more desirable rental facility for private and public events.


One of the best ways to make available plants that do well in our climate is through regular plant sales. While the Gardens have held large spring and fall plant sales for over thirty years, the time has come to make these plants available on a more frequent basis. Funding is needed to upgrade our software so that
we may offer on-line sales, increase the number of plants propagated in our own greenhouse, and showcase what we have to offer in our Market Place.

ReBloom Mobile was conceived in 2000 to make Gulf Coast gardeners aware that they can enjoy plant color in their gardens and yards throughout the year. In 2012, Mobile Botanical Gardens installed a beautiful demonstration area to display the concept. Now, we want to offer plants that support the ReBloom idea by making them available for sale at those times of the year which are best suited for healthy growth. In addition, we are expanding our ReBloom program to achieve a regional level of ReBloom the Gulf Coast. This initiative will be well supported with strategic staff and by broader marketing activity into Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.



In summary, these improvements are planned for increasing revenue and making the Gardens a more appealing destination:

Upgrades to our drainage and electrical systems:
o Protect our roadways, plantings, walkways and parking
o New concrete walkways will also serve as flumes to direct runoff in classic Mobile rain.
o Provide reliable attractive electrical service for plant sales and events

Construction of solid surface walkways in Market Place, main parking lot, and across the lawn

Redesign of the turning circle near our main buildings

Installation of attractive security fencing

Enhancements/Acquisitions to support more profitable rentals:
o Botanical Center – Refresh surfaces (paint, new sealer on acid stained floors)
o Larkins Meeting Room – Resurface floors; wood trim; new blinds; recessed lighting
o Bistro tables (8)
o 30×40 tent (also to be used for plant sales)

Improvements for Market Place and plant sales support:
o Plant carts (15) for sales events
o Rebuild shade cloth area
o Construct a storage building to house carts, tents, risers, signage, etc.
o Replace deteriorated tables and counters with waterproof retail area

Growth and support of ReBloom the Gulf Coast brand:
o Online catalog software, plant labeling software and printer; PayPal upgrade
o Additional personnel – for marketing/management of catalog and monthly sales

Purchase of equipment in support of expanded collections and improved maintenance:
o Zero-Turn mower
o Golf carts (2)
o Chipper/Shredder
o Lift forks for tractor

Our challenge is to raise the funds necessary to improve our Gardens and thereby help meet the needs of our changing community and the reach of its influence. We cannot pass up this opportunity to make our Gardens the very best that they can be. Inspired by the lead gifts from Andrew Saunders ($120,000) and the City of Mobile ($150,000), the Board of Directors has set a total community investment campaign goal of an additional $230,000, for a total of $500,000.

City of Mobile, District 7 Representative, Gina Gregory
Andrew Saunders – In Memory of Carolyn Saunders
J.L. Bedsole Foundation

The Crampton Trust
Lilian S. Woolford Charitable Trust

Ann and Jack DiPalma
Kitty and Michael Meshad

Donna and Joe Camp
Robert and Robin Krchak – In Memory of Danielle Juzan
Betsy and John Yager
Carlos and Harold Parkman
Sherri and Lawrence Sindel – In Honor of Connor and Hawk Sindel
Mary and Charles Rodning – In Honor of Ms.Rosella Lipke

Celia Mann-Baehr
Billie and Russ Goodloe – In Honor of John and Erin Goodloe
Erin and John Goodloe
Therese and John Shields
Barbara and Tim Tillery
Greer and David Wilhelm
John Olive

The Cole Foundation – In Memory of Carolyn Saunders and Lillian Woolford
Elizabeth and Hardy Downing – In Memory of Carolyn Saunders
Holle and Donald Briskman
Anna and Robin Luce
Geri Moulton
Margaret Gordon
Judy and Mark Weaver – In Honor of Mobile County Master Gardeners
Penny and John Coleman
Jane and Dale Adams – In Honor of Bobby Green and Maarten van der Giessen
Stephen Baughman
Betty L Sharrer – In Honor of Donna Camp
Patrick McGough
Jessica and Bill Barrick

Jody Conrad
Cullan Duke
Sandi and Joe Files
The Gelineau Family Charitable Fund
David Norris
Kimi and Allen Oaks
Mary Mullins Redditt
Charles Rodning – In Honor of Mary Elizabeth Rodning
Melissa and John Roombos
Cendra and Larry Lartigue
Sybille and Sven-Peter Mannsfeld
Shirley McKinney
Judy Stout
Melissa Wold – In Memory of Betty and Richard Wold
The Community Foundation of South Alabama’s The Alabama Romanchuk Fund
Brenda and Michael Huddle

Elisa and Wes Baldwin
Connie Barron
Sue and Jeff Beard
Lee Lee and Cliff Brady
Joanne Brandt
Ruth Carlson
Sally and David Carrington
Lynne Davis
Marie Dyson
Priscilla Gold-Darby – In Memory of Nancy G. Strong
Betty and Mack Graham
Karen and Art Green
Julia Grehan
Catherine Hamilton
Birry and Thomas Heagle
Matthew Thocker and Thomas Herring
Barbara Hundley – In Memory of Kenneth O. Hundley
Bonney Irwin
Caroline Lamberth
Janet and Randy McCurley – In Memory of Margaret A. Crosby
Dorothy McGehee
Dan Miller
Garry Mitchell – In Memory of Danielle Juzan
Elise Partridge – In Memory of Carolyn Saunders
Allen Peaton
Catherine Pierce
Gerry Persons
Martha Rauch
Linda Shaw – In Honor of Mrs. Tom Dodd
Malcolm Steiner
Linda and Sam St. John
Jane and Bob Trawick
Marilyn Way
Karen Willard
Caroline Yeilding
Mary Youngblood
Katherine Zoghby
Anthony Naman
Nita Crandall
Dianne Cape

You may make donations online here. You can pay with any credit or debit card or choose to pay through a Paypal account. If you would like to make a recurring donation, you can check the box on the screen. Please let us know if you would like to designate your donation for a particular MBG project.

Community Investment Campaign Donations:

A Defining Moment for Mobile Botanical Gardens – Foreword by Andrew Saunders, MBG President

It was a beautifully sunny spring afternoon last Saturday when a large crowd gathered to celebrate the opening of our newly created Aromi Native Azalea Garden. Remarks by Gina Gregory, Aromi family members, and special guests were warm and welcoming. It seemed a great day and a fine event; then, Maarten van der Giessen took the microphone, and the world shifted.

Maarten is an accomplished horticulturalist and nurseryman, well-known regionally in the trade. He is a perennial leader of Mobile Botanical Gardens — past president (2006-07); currently, Chair of the Horticultural Committee and Executive Committee member.

A few minutes into his talk, Maarten had the crowd sighing in awareness that we were hearing powerful words and elevated concepts, eloquently spoken. He covered the history of Dr. Aromi — his extraordinary life and work. He described our Aromi Garden — its concept, its funding, its construction.

Then, Maarten brilliantly, poetically made the case for the importance of a botanical garden to any major city. He made the case for the importance of our Mobile Botanical Gardens to our City of Mobile as a refugium of both culture and horticulture — a refugium that is singular and invaluable to a city and its citizens — a place and a process of preservation for the generations.

As always, Come Here to Grow,

Aromi Opening 04-09-2016 – by Maarten van der Giessen

First, I’d like to than the 200 Facebook friends who contributed to this Garden – don’t worry, I’m not going to call their names. Their contributions were the catalyst that got this Garden off the ground. It’s one thing if I tell the Board of Directors that I want to build a Garden, it’s another thing completely when 200 people show up at the door waving hundred dollar bills.

This story really starts with a Facebook conversation I had with Tom Johnson, the Director of Magnolia Plantation in Charleston. I was talking about (whining about) how to fund this installation. Tom comes back with “You know, we really only need two hundred people to give us $100 dollars. I’ll kick in $100.” John Davies of Panhandle Growers chimed in with $100. Bill Ray in Florida, and Dr. Ken Tilt from Auburn pitched in their $100. They had me backed up to the wall, so I pitched in $100. From there it snowballed. We had donors from Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and even the Netherlands and Spain sending in their money, telling Mobile Botanical Gardens to build this Garden.

Through the whole process Tom was a relentless cheerleader. He posted photos of Aromi’s plants daily. He exhorted, cajoled, pushed and prodded. Mobile Botanical Gardens owes him a deep debt of gratitude.

I also have to thank the members of our gardening community – good, decent folks who just wanted to make Mobile a better place. I won’t name them here. They know who they are, and they have my undying gratitude. With their help we doubled the Facebook donations, and raised $40,000 in private money.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Dr. Aromi. I was honored to have known and worked with him and his wife Jane in the last few years of his life. His 40 years of dedication to hybridizing resulted in 1045 crosses and over 100,000 seedlings that he brought to flower. His work I believe is the largest hybridization project in the United States. Yet, he named only one percent of what he created. Each of those hybrids is a treasure.

Certainly, I have to thank Mobile Botanical Gardens for taking on this project when their plate was
already full to overflowing with needs, crises, and burdens. Their installation of this Garden allows
Aromi to take his rightful place in the pantheon of great Mobile horticulturalists – creative men like Tom Dodd Jr, and Kosaku Sawada whose work is known throughout the world. The author J.R.R. Tolkien called such men “Sub-Creator, the refracted light, through whom is splintered from a single white, to many hues, endlessly combined in living shapes that move from mind to mind.”

Mobile Botanical Gardens is ground zero for horticulture in Mobile. We have a gift here that our neighboring cities can only dream of. They clothe their neighborhoods in the offerings from the dime stores of Bentonville, Arkansas and the hardware suppliers of Huntersville, North Carolina, because that’s what they have. But we have a Garden.

Here’s how it works. In a few moments Gina Gregory, for example, is going to walk through our new
Garden. It’s a safe bet that she’s not going to be thinking about the history of Mobile horticulture, or
hybridizing, or even horticulture. She is going to be thinking “Wow that would look great in my yard.
Where can I get that?”
Our marketplace carries a lot of the plants that we have in the Gardens. So she plants her new azalea, and when it blooms? The neighbors are going to say “Wow, that would look great
in my yard”. Through the Gardens we create a local market for plants from our greatest horticultural minds, rather than what we are fed by the chain stores. The result? A more beautiful and unique city – a richer city. And in the larger view this spreads to our neighboring cities as well. Visitors come home and say “I saw this in Mobile. That’s such a lovely place.”

I also want us to think about Mobile Botanical Gardens as a refuge, a Refugium. Let’s say you want to collect all of Sawada’s camellias. You do your homework, buy the camellias, plant them in your garden. What happens when you pass away? The greatest collection of camellias in the last generation was at the corner of Broad and Government, now a Greer’s Grocery. Down the road at Catherine and Government Blacklawn Gardens is now an Office Depot. Rubel’s magnificent Longview Gardens with its roaring lions and giant Buddah is now Mobile waterworks. The lions sit silently in a museum. Even the garden of Dr. Aromi, where all these wonderful hybrids were created, is now a lawn.

Mobile Botanical Garden allows us to hand down what we value to our children, and to their children. It is an enduring home. It is our enduring home.

Today we celebrate the completion of a new room in that home. We can meet our friends here. We can marry off our children here. In these times of turmoil, we can find some peace here. But our home is not complete. We still have a long way to go to create a Garden worthy of the name Mobile. See, I maintain that Mobile is a reflection of this Garden, a refracted light. As we love this place, so we show our love for our families, for our neighborhoods, and for our City.

By being here today, you are showing your love for this place. I thank you. I thank you for coming here to see, for coming here to learn, for coming here to share, for coming here to grow.

On Saturday, April 9th, 2016 we officially opened our new Aromi Hybrid Azalea Garden. An extension to our existing Millie McConnell Rhododendron Garden, this new garden is filled with Dr Gene Aromi’s native azalea hybrids along with companion planting.

Members and donors were invited. Over 250 people attended the event – which featured beautiful weather, and a glorious display of plants.

Dr Aromi’s daughters, Jeannette and Marilyn, and his grandchildren were present in person AND in the beautiful azaleas named for them. They cut the ribbon and escorted attendees on the first walks through the Garden. Jeanette and Marilyn shared their memories of growing up with their father’s azaleas. Read Jeanette’s Speech Here

Gina Gregory, President of the City of Mobile Council, and representative of District 7, emphasised the benefits of the Mobile Botanical Gardens for the City of Mobile. We are honored to have her support in becoming a world-class garden.

Tom Johnson, Director of Magnolia Gardens & Plantation in Charleston,SC, was pivotal in spearheading the fund raising for the new Gardens, and is a great cheer-leader for us in the world of horticulture.

Terry Plauche, Landscape Architect, and Jeremy Carter of Total Quality Landscape, are to be commended on their thorough and accurate overseeing of the path-laying and plant-placing and installation of the new Garden.

Maarten van der Giessen, our azalea guru, and owner of van der Giessen Nursery in Semmes, AL was THE person with the vision and was the driving force behind the new Garden. He gave a very powerful and thought-provoking speech – something that all friends of the Gardens should read! Maarten’s Remarks at the Aromi Garden Opening (opens in new tab)

For more about Dr Aromi’s work and about his Native Azalea hybrids follow these links:

Video talk – Aromi Azaleas by Maarten van der Giessen (opens in new tab)

Aromi Garden Handout (PDF) -opens in new tab

Aromi Azalea Collection at MBG (opens in new tab)

Catering by Georgia Roussos Catering (opens in new tab)
Photography by Elizabeth Gelineau of Fleeting Moments Photography LLC (will open in new tab)
Also read Elizabeth’s blog about the Opening at www.fleetingmoments-photography.com/blog (opens in a new tab)

Just a few of the photos from the Aromi Azalea Garden Opening Day! These are photos that have been posted to our instagram account. Our thanks to Elizabeth Gelineau of Fleeting Moments Photography LLC (will open in new tab) for the sneak peek photos. – more will be posted soon!

You can click on any photo to see them in a slide show with the instagram captions. Follow us on instagram at mobilebotanicalgardens.

Just a few of the photos showing the Aromi Garden building progress. Posted from our instagram account.

You can click on any photo to see them in a slide show with the instagram captions. Follow us on instagram at mobilebotanicalgardens.

OPEN SATURDAYS ONLY, APRIL 16th through the end of JUNE 9am to 11am

The Market Place features many of the same unusual, interesting, native and hard to find plants featured at Spring Plant Sale, plus new merchandise arriving weekly. Staffed by our volunteers, (many are Master Gardeners) the Market Place provides not only plants, but expert advice for your Gulf Coast Garden.

The Marketplace is open Saturday mornings from 9am – 11 am until the end of June 2016

Located at the far end of the main parking lot in the fenced area.