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 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
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
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
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
Betty L Sharrer – In Honor of Donna Camp
Jessica and Bill Barrick
Sandi and Joe Files
The Gelineau Family Charitable Fund
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
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
Sue and Jeff Beard
Lee Lee and Cliff Brady
Sally and David Carrington
Priscilla Gold-Darby – In Memory of Nancy G. Strong
Betty and Mack Graham
Karen and Art Green
Birry and Thomas Heagle
Matthew Thocker and Thomas Herring
Barbara Hundley – In Memory of Kenneth O. Hundley
Janet and Randy McCurley – In Memory of Margaret A. Crosby
Garry Mitchell – In Memory of Danielle Juzan
Elise Partridge – In Memory of Carolyn Saunders
Linda Shaw – In Honor of Mrs. Tom Dodd
Linda and Sam St. John
Jane and Bob Trawick
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: