Q: I recently enjoyed the Historic Homes Tour and remembered something similar Master Gardeners offered, visiting various gardens around Mobile. Do you still do that and will you please provide details?

A: Perfect timing! You are remembering the Gallery of Gardens, a wonderful event which is a fundraiser offered by Mobile Botanical Gardens. As a partner organization, Mobile County Master Gardeners supports MBG, providing docent guides in each garden on the tour, answering questions and identifying featured plants at each site. A fantastic selection of home gardens will be on the tour this year.

Dates of the 2017 Gallery of Gardens are May 19 and 20, with gardens open for viewing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Unique to this year’s tour is the focus on charming private gardens in three historic neighborhoods. These gardens have been designed and are maintained by their owners. There are three gardens each in the De Tonti Square District, the Oakleigh Garden District and the Church Street East District.

(Photos/ MBG / Vaughn Drinkard) A fundraiser for Mobile Botanical Gardens (left), Vaughn Drinkard’s garden on Government Street near downtown Mobile (right) is part of the upcoming Gallery of Gardens.


Within each district, gardens are within easy walking distance. The more adventurous among you may want to walk or bicycle to all since they are within a two-mile radius of each other!

Seven of the nine gardens on the tour are in courtyards, and each exhibits its own unique personality. Two larger gardens offer broader, more extensive landscape combinations. Specific plantings are the result of many owner experiments and represent the broad variety of plants well adapted to Mobile settings. Many are varieties obtained at Mobile Botanical Gardens plant sales.

Just a sampling of what you may expect to experience on tour is reflected in some owner descriptions of their gardens:

“You are standing in an artist’s garden. I am much more a designer than a gardener. I like to use old doors, gates and discarded ‘Mobile lace’ ironwork to play house! I use plants as a backdrop to create fun and sacred spaces in the garden.”

A mindfulness garden … “As you enter my garden, there is a wall! But it is not there to keep anyone out. This wall, shared with the Church Street Cemetery, adds a sense of solemnity. Close your eyes and breathe, but don’t keep them closed for long! Come snip and sniff. Time to relax and see clearly what matters. Your garden. Easy to create. I did!”

In addition to the private gardens on tour, it is also suggested visitors take advantage of the proximity of other gardens open to the public in each district and walk by some of them. These might include the Oakleigh Mansion and Gardens, the Richardson DAR House, the De Tonti Community Garden, Spanish Plaza and the courtyard of the Malaga Inn.

Those interested in historic Mobile homes will note each neighborhood on the tour contains a separate historic home museum worth a visit. The Mobile Botanical Gardens and Marketplace at 5151 Museum Drive will also be open for shopping immediately following inspiring visits to gallery homes.

Tickets for Gallery of Gardens 2017 are $25 in advance and $30 during the tours. They may be purchased online at www.mobilebotanicalgardens.org, at ticket locations listed on the website or at each tour home the days of tours.

Plan to explore nine private gardens and discover new ideas for your own. Meet Master Gardeners and “Ask a Master Gardener” writers in person! Hope to see you there.

You are Invited to These Upcoming Gardening Events

What: Mobile Master Gardeners Monthly Meeting
When: Thursday, May 11, 10-11:30 a.m.
Where: Jon Archer Center, 1070 Schillinger Road N., Mobile
Topic: Creating a Backyard Bird Habitat by Martha Terry

What: Mobile Master Gardeners Lunch & Learn
When: Monday, May 15, noon to 1 p.m.
Where: Jon Archer Center, 1070 Schillinger Road N., Mobile
Topic: Grocery Store Botany by Dr. Judy Stout

What: MBG’s Gallery of Gardens
When: May 19-20, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Gardens in Oakleigh, Church Street East and DeTonti Square
Information: www.mobilebotanicalgardens.org
Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 during tours