8 of the South’s Best Gardens
As winter recedes and spring moves in, catch the height of bloom season at these outdoor attractions.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
History: Birmingham Mayor James W. Morgan was instrumental in establishing the gardens on 69 acres next to the zoo in 1963. He envisioned it as the biggest attraction of this type in the Southeast. Today, both the Birmingham Botanical Society and city help to support and maintain the gardens. Read more about the public horticultural library located in The Garden Center here.
What’s in Bloom: Daffodils, forsythia, native azaleas, pansies, tulips, herbs, dogwoods and irises, with wildflowers at the their peak in April and roses at their peak in May.
Events: The Spring Plant Sale (Alabama’s largest) is April 10-12, Earth Day at the Gardens is April 25 and Flicks Among the Flowers movie night May 16.
Location: Pine Mountain, Georgia
History: Opened in 1952 by Cason J. Callaway, one of Georgia’s leading farmers and agricultural economists, and his wife, Virginia, as a way to share their Blue Springs Farm and surrounding land with the public.
What’s in Bloom: Azaleas (Callaway has the world’s largest azalea garden), fragrant tea olive and camellias, with hydrangeas in May.
Events: Garden workshops start March 14 and include topics like attracting birds, azaleas and making garden troughs and hanging baskets.
Gardens at Old Salem
Location: Winston Salem, North Carolina
History: Showcasing horticulture practices of the Moravians in Salem from 1769 to 1847, the gardens in this area of town are plentiful, with native trees and shrubs, historic fencing, heirloom vegetables, optimal growing space and seed saving practices.
What’s in Bloom: More of a kitchen garden than blooming one, the gardens here are planted with heirloom vegetables and herbs, as well as apple and cherry trees.
Events: Self-guided tours are available through May 25, with Garden Workshops starting March 7 and a spring festival scheduled for May 16.
Gardens of the American Rose Center
Location: Shreveport, Louisiana
History: The gardens were dedicated in 1974, when the American Rose Society headquarters moved to Shreveport from Columbus, Ohio.
What’s in Bloom: Official rose bloom season starts April 1, with more than 65 individual gardens and 20,000 rosebushes on display.
Events: Easter Egg Hunt & Lady Bug Release is March 28, and Spring Bloom Plant Sale is April 25.
Hills & Dales Estate
Location: LaGrange, Georgia
History: This garden’s story began in 1841 when Sarah Ferrell expanded a small garden into what would become one of the most widely acclaimed green spaces in the Southeast. The property was purchased by the Callaway family, who restored the gardens and added fountains and statuary.
What’s in Bloom: Banana shrub, camellias, pansies, azaleas, roses and poppies, and Southern magnolias in May.
Events: A Picnic in the Garden will be held May 9, with workshops scheduled in both April and May.
Location: Montgomery, Alabama
History: Described as a “little corner of Greece,” this garden was conceived in 1928 by Benjamin and Mary Fitzpatrick, who made more than 20 trips to Greece to purchase their sculptures and years developing what’s become 20 acres of year-round blooms blended with classical art.
What’s in Bloom: Japanese cherry trees, azaleas, irises, snowballs, Carolina jasmine, mountain laurel, wisteria, roses and daylilies, with poppies in May.
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
History: An 18th century rice plantation and National Historic Landmark comprising 65 acres of America’s oldest landscaped gardens with sculpted terraces, parterres and reflection pools laid out according to the principles of Andre Le Notre, responsible for the gardens at Versailles.
What’s in Bloom: Camellias, azaleas, dogwood, rhododendron, daffodils, magnolia, irises, and hydrangeas, with roses in May.
Events: Camellia Walks are offered through March 21, with Wednesday Wine Strolls starting April 1.
New Orleans Botanical Garden
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
History: Funded by the Works Progress Administration as the city’s first public classical garden and one of the few remaining examples of public garden design from the WPA showcasing Art Deco influences.
What’s in Bloom: Azaleas and roses in late March and April, with bulbs, lilies and irises in May.
Events: March Plant & Rose Sale is March 14 or visit the gardens for Thursdays at Twilight with live music weekly.
Photo Credits: Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Gardens at Old Salem by Deep South; Callaway Gardens from callawaygardens.com; Gardens of the American Rose Center from Facebook; Hills & Dales Estate from Facebook; Jasmine Hill from Facebook; Middleton Place Courtesy of Charleston Area CVB, ExploreCharleston.com; and New Orleans Botanical Garden from New Orleans City Park Archives.