In 1974 the South Alabama Horticultural & Botanical Society Inc. agreed to develop and maintain the current 100 acres as Mobile Botanical Gardens, and leases the land from the City of Mobile. Prior to European settlement in the 1700’s, the land on which Mobile Botanical Gardens stands today was part of a vast longleaf pine forest. Because most of this land was logged in the early 1900’s, our 35 acre conservation forest area is considered second generation growth. The lake in Langan Park on the other side of Museum Drive was once Mobile’s water supply until the 1950’s, and the acreage surrounding the lake was restricted from development. As a private, non-profit organization, the MBG welcomes your support. Please help us continue our mission of education and conservation by paying admission or by becoming a member. Welcome to our living classroom!


The French who came to found the city had instructions from Louis XIV to collect and send back botanical specimens, and Iberville, busy with the establishment of a great new colony for the glory of France, was careful to obey his King’s instructions. When Mobile was laid out at its present site, one of the first things done was plant a double row of trees around the esplanade to provide a shady walk. Vegetables from France grew in kitchen gardens, and early in our city’s history it was possible to gather at short notice the ingredients for the same salad one might order in Paris. A plan of Mobile published in 1765 shows several small formal gardens with walks and parterres laid out in a fashionable European style. Most of these were probably herb gardens, but some seem to have been purely ornamental.


In 1777 William Bartram spent more than three months in and out of Mobile collecting “growing roots, seeds, and curious specimens,” which he shipped to Philadelphia to be added to his collection. Visitors to Mobile in the 1820’s wrote of the “villas” along the bay shore, where luxuriant gardens were enclosed by hedges of Cherokee roses. Ship manifests of the 1830’s show that large cargoes of camellias were consigned to purchasers in Mobile. During the Civil War, one of the great laments of the populace was that the avenues of oaks which graced the suburban estates had to be destroyed when the city’s fortifications were erected. In the 1870’s and 80’s missionaries from Mobile to China took live oak acorns with them and planted groves which still flourish there. They brought back to Mobile the tallow and camphor tree which are so familiar along our city’s streets.


And so it has been, down through our history for more than two hundred and seventy-five years.

(Excerpt from a brochure printed in 1977 by the South Alabama Botanical & Horticultural Society for fundraising purposes)


Tom Dodd, Jr – President and General Manager, Tom Dodd Nursery
Harry F. (Pat) Ryan – Assissant Landscape Engineer, Bellingrath Gardens
Max P. McGill – Landscape Engineer, Springhill College
John H. Bowen – Landscape Architect, U.S. Army Engineers
Ira V. Matthews – Assistant to the President, Mobile College
Floyd T. McConnell – General Counsel, Mobile Engineer District, U.S. Army Engineers
Dr. Michel G. LeLong – Professor of Botany, University of South Alabama
Edward J. (Bud) Horder – Ornamental Horticulturist, U.S. Army Engineers


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

1976 Mobile 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

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

1993 Master Gardener volunteers begin Greenhouse production

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 New Greenhouse built

2002 Larkins 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 replanted and expanded with new collections

2007 Camellia K. Sawada WinterGarden established

2007 Presidents of Gulf Coast Herb Society began serving one year term on Board of Directors
2012 ReBloom Garden installed
2014 K. Sawada WinterGarden recognized as an International Gardens of Excellence (one of 7 in the US)
2014 New Parking Lot installed
2015 MarketPlace rebuilt
2015 Pollinator Garden installed
2016 Aromi Garden installed
2019 MBG established Magnolia Hill at 6-acre site above Gardens
2019 Japanese Maple Tree collection added
2020 Primary Greenhouse redone
2021 Operational Support Agreement reached with City of Mobile
2021 Establishment of the Wayne Denson McRae Endowment for the Mobile Botanical Gardens
2021 Terry C. Plauché Bog Garden installed
2022 Enhancement of WinterGarden upper terraces