Every year, Bellingrath Gardens and Home hosts special programs during the winter months. Each workshop covers a special feature of the Gardens or Home, tips for making your garden more spectacular, or guest lectures from renowned members of the horticultural and gardening world.
The programs begin at 10:30 a.m. and usually last about one hour. The Winter Wednesday events are included in your Gardens admission. Admission for members is free.
January 12 - Garden Tour with Chuck Owens & Susan Hill
Wear your walking shoes and join us for a tour of Bellingrath’s 65-acre estate with our very own Director of Horticulture Chuck Owens, and Display Horticulture Manager Susan Hill. Pick the brains of these plant experts as they highlight which displays they’re most excited about this season.
January 19 - A History of Mobile’s Red Light District with Tom McGehee
In the waning days of the Victorian era it has been estimated that there were 300,000 prostitutes in the United States. At the time, every significant American city had a designated neighborhood where prostitution, although technically illegal, was practiced quite openly. New York had the Tenderloin, San Francisco, the Barbary Coast and New Orleans was famed for Storyville. Mobile’s “Immoral Houses” operated in what was politely called the “Restricted District.”
How it was established, how it operated and its ultimate fate will be the subject of a talk given by Tom McGehee, local historian and Museum Director for Bellingrath Gardens and Home. Find out how a familiar architectural element of the Bellingrath Home was linked to this forgotten era in Mobile’s colorful history!
January 26 - "The Seasons of Hills & Dales Estate" with Carleton Wood
Carleton B. Wood serves as the Executive Director of Hills & Dales Estate in LaGrange, Georgia, a position he has held since 2002. Prior to moving to Georgia, Carleton was the director of the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, North Carolina and Head of Horticulture at Tryon Palace Historic Sites in New Bern, North Carolina. Carleton has a B.E.D.L.A. from North Carolina State University and a M.S. in horticulture from the University of Georgia. He also spent one year studying historic gardens in England as the Martin McLaren Scholar under the auspices of the English Speaking Union and the Garden Club of America. A long time member of the Southern Garden History Society, Carleton served as the Society’s president from 2014-2016. Carleton enjoys researching and learning about historic gardens and landscapes, and sharing his immense knowledge of the history of the Callaway family home with guests to the Estate.
Hills & Dales Estate is one of the premier historic house and gardens in the Southeastern United States. During the presentation, participants will learn about the 180 year history of this amazing property. Highlights will include the creation of the largest boxwood garden in the South by Sarah and Blount Ferrell between 1841 and 1903, and the addition of a fine Neel Reid designed villa in 1916 by textile magnate Fuller E. Callaway Sr. The story will also feature Fuller Callaway Jr. and his wife Alice Hand Callaway who cultivated the gardens at the estate for 62 years. The final chapter will tell how the estate was preserved and saved for future generations to enjoy.
February 2 - "Development of Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs for the Deep South" with Dr. Judson LeCompte
Dr. Judson LeCompte is an internationally known nurseryman, researcher, speaker, teacher and plant hunter. Based in Grand Haven, Michigan, Dr. LeCompte and the team at Spring Meadow Nursery are developing, selecting, and introducing superior woody plant genetics for the world’s leading shrub brand Proven Winners Color Choice Flowering Shrubs. Hailing from Alabama’s “loveliest village on the plain,” Dr. LeCompte earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture at his hometown Auburn University, and his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University. A self-described plant nerd, Judson keeps an extensive plant collection at home and enjoys gardening, “Pure Michigan” summers, and good eating in his down time.
Dr. LeCompte will share the journey of Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs from discovery to consumer landscape. He will also present the newest shrubs selected for the hot and humid South.
February 9 - "Reynolda Gardens: What's old is new again" with Jon Roethling
Director of Reynolda Gardens in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Jon Roethling joins us at Bellingrath to discuss bringing their 100 year old garden into the 21st century. Once part of the R.J. and Katharine Reynolds estate and now part of Wake Forest University, the 135 acres that are Reynolda Gardens encompass everything from formal gardens to woodlands, rose gardens to meadows as well as a 1913 Lord and Burnham Greenhouse. Originally designed in 1917 by Thomas Sears and renovated in the mid-90’s, the gardens are in the midst of a reawakening. Challenges such as invasive species, intensified weather events, new diseases and pests, as well as modern day uses of the gardens are all being tackled while trying to remain true to the original design intent.
Jon Roethling’s passion for horticulture began while working in the garden with his dad. Throughout high school, he worked in retail sales and landscape management with New Garden Nursery. After a brief stint at UNC-Chapel Hill, he transferred to NC State and began working for Tony Avent’s Juniper Level Botanic Garden. After graduating with a B.S. in Horticultural Science, he joined the JC Raulston Arboretum as a Horticulturist in 2002, later becoming the Research Technician. In 2005 he joined PlantHaven, Inc as Plant Projects Manager representing plant breeders throughout the US and internationally. Prior to becoming the Director of Reynolda Gardens in December of 2018, Jon served as the curator of the Mariana H. Qubein Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at High Point University (High Point, NC) for 8 years. In that time, he built significant collections of Magnolia, Cercis, Rhododendron, Crinum & Hydrangea.
February 16 - "Horticulture CSI: The Search for the Long Beach Red Radish" with Dr. Gary Bachman
This is a 10+ year old story of Extension problem solving revolving around the mystery of the disappearance and possible rediscovery of a radish, the Long Beach Red radish (LBRR). The search, from the archives from the National Agriculture Library, Nordic Seed Bank, Louisville & Nashville railroad to Beatrix Potter, holds all the intrigue of a murder mystery and all the painstaking, arduous pursuit of an archeological dig, along with a touch of serendipity.
Dr. Bachman is currently the Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at the Coastal Research & Extension Center for Mississippi State University. He hosts the awarding winning Mississippi State University Extension Service’s Southern Gardening TV, radio, newspaper columns and social media outlets. He was previously on the faculty at Tennessee Tech University and Illinois State University, but now lives with his wife Katie in Ocean Springs, MS. They are urban homesteaders and operate the Heritage Cottage Urban Nano Farm designed to be a demonstration urban farm to grow and preserve an abundance of locally grown specialty vegetables and produce all year long.
February 23 - "Japanese Horticulture and Its Continuing Impact on Southern Gardens" with Dr. Todd Lasseigne
Join our own Dr. Todd Lasseigne for a lively discussion on work that he and others have conducted in Japan over the past 25 years, introducing plants into cultivation for Southern gardens. Although many plants from Japan are well known, most of these date back to the first half of the 20th Century. Japanese horticulture is still relevant today, and we think you’ll find that a lot of “new” plants in today’s garden centers have their origins from plants introduced by Todd and others back in the early 2000s.