Collections and History

Collections at the Mobile Botanical Gardens:

The Shropshire Nature Trail, one of the earliest features put into place in the Gardens, leads visitors through a natural habitat of woodlands.

The Founders’ Fragrance & Texture Garden, another early project, showcases plants which offer sensory delights…prickly or soft to touch, fragrant to inhale. It was designed to enhance a garden experience for blind or handicapped individuals.

Longleaf Pine Forest on a foggy morning.

Longleaf Pine Forest

The Longleaf Pine Ecosystem contains a vast array of 165 species ranging from giant longleaf pines and southern magnolias to tiny bluets and other native wildflowers.

Northeast of the Gardens is a remnant of a Wetland Area. For centuries, these wetlands slowed the waters of Three Mile Creek, purifying and filtering them while providing prime wildlife habitat. The creek has been channelized, but some wetland plants and animals remain along its edges.

Located in an area with seepage springs, the Fern Garden is especially lovely on a hot, sultry day.

The Herb Garden was established in 1996 by the Gulf Coast Herb Society. Its members continue to maintain it and provide much general support for MBG.

The John Allen Smith Japanese Maple Garden contains the core collection of maple specimens from horticulturist John Allen Smith. Donations of plants, money, and effort have provided this exotic garden with additional lovely trees.

AzaleasThe Millie McConnell Rhododendron Garden began as a native azalea garden, planted by Tom Dodd, John Allen Smith, and Dr. John Giordano. The garden was redesigned in 2006 to showcase azalea hybrids either created in Mobile, or especially well-suited to our climate. These groups include the Eugene Aromi, Tom Dodd, and Kosaku Sawada hybrids. This Garden also boasts the largest public collection of Satsuki azaleas in the U.S., as well as an extensive collection of historic Southern Indica azaleas. These plants are set among 19th century architectural artifacts and hand-made brick pavers from Mobile’s old Broad Street. The pavers were donated by the City of Mobile Archives.

Pink Camellia bloom.The Kosaku Sawada WinterGarden began with plantings by Tom Sawada.  By 2007, this garden, under the direction of Bobby Green, was re-established with a polished design and the addition of more camellia specimens, many of which are no longer found commercially. Many of these plants are “rescue” camellias from heirloom gardens. Additionally, companion plants favorable to a winter garden are on display here. In 2010, it was designated the Kosaku Sawada WinterGarden, in honor of Tom’s father, whose hybridization skills produced many world-renowned varieties, including Gulf Glory and Tiny Princess.

In front of the Botanical Center Plaza is the Rebloom Mobile Garden, designed and planted to showcase plants from the Rebloom Mobile list established in 2002 as part of the Mobile Tricentennial Celebration.

The Piff Garden, created in honor of Mrs. Elsa Piff, features perennials, shrubs and annuals which are very attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Mrs. Piff’s beautiful plumerias can also be seen in the beds near the entrance every summer. Each Fall, they are removed to a greenhouse and returned to the Gardens when the weather is favorable.


1970 South Alabama Horticultural & Botanical Society incorporated

1974 Society agrees to develop and manage 100 acres as a Botanical Garden; City of Mobile leases 100 acres to the Society

The Fragrance and Texture Garden, 1981

The Fragrance and Texture Garden, 1981

1976Mobile Botanical Gardens dedicated

1976 First Annual Plant Sale at the home of Floyd & Millie McConnell

1979 Founders’ Fragrance & Texture Garden established

1979 Hurricane Frederic

1980 Flooding created Kudzu Canyon / washed-out road and field

1981 Shropshire Nature Trail established

Redeveloping the Shropshire Nature Trail after Hurricane Frederic

Redeveloping the Shropshire Nature Trail after Hurricane Frederic

1982-83Fall Plant Sale & Preview Party tradition established by Lily Woolford & Susie Dodd

1993 Gallery of Gardens Tours established by Lily Woolford & Thayer Dodd

1994 Education Programs established by Liz Duthie

1996 Herb Garden established with Gulf Coast Herb Society

1997 Greenhouse built

Area of the future Larkins Learning Center, 1981

Area of the future Larkins Learning Center, 1981

2002Larkins Center Grand Opening celebrated in October

2003 Second Saturday series of horticulture programs established

2004 Master Gardeners’ Presidents began serving one year term on Board of Directors

2005 John Allen Smith Memorial Japanese Maple Garden Grand Opening celebrated in November

2006 Millie McConnell Rhododendron Garden established

2007 Camellia WinterGarden established

2007 Presidents of Gulf Coast Herb Society began serving one year term on Board of Directors

The Founders

Tom Dodd, Jr.
Harry F. (Pat) Ryan
Max P. McGill
John H. Bowen
Ira H. Matthews
Floyd T. McConnell
Dr. Michael G. LeLong
Edward J. (Bud) Horder

  • Contact Information

    Mobile Botanical Gardens
    5151 Museum Drive
    Mobile AL 36608
    (251) 342-0555
    (251) 342-3149 (Fax)
  • Hours & Admission

    Admission: Adults $5
    Children 12 and under free
    Hours: Dawn until Dusk
    Directions & Maps
  • Mission Statement

    What do we mean by Come Here to Grow?

    Mobile Botanical Gardens provides experiences that help visitors of all ages appreciate and benefit from our unique Gulf Coast environment.

    The Gardens serve as a living classroom for residents and visitors alike. By providing a sense of place, we endeavor to instill passion for nature, and promote interest in gardening, conservation, and outdoor activities.