By Nancy Adams, Mobile Master Gardener | [email protected]

Love grows by giving. The love we give away is the only love we keep.” — American author Elbert Hubbard

If you live on the Gulf Coast and have never experienced the Geri Moulton Children’s Park, which is alongside the entrance drive to the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital, you are in for a treat.

The entrance to the hospital complex is like an exquisite art gallery, but outside … in a park. Anchored in a setting of majestic oak trees and beautifully landscaped grounds with constantly blooming flowers, more than 50 unique, life-size bronze sculptures depicting scenes of children and animals at play adorn the campus from the entrance on Springhill Avenue northward to Center Street. Benches along the lighted path allow visitors to stroll and sit at liberty.

(Photo by Bill Starling/USA Health) Geri Moulton

This one-of-a-kind children’s park was originally the vision of the late Gordon Moulton, president of the University of South Alabama from 1997 to 2013. The park officially opened in 2001 with 12 sculptures, the first being “Tender Touch” by respected artist George Lundeen and donated by Larry D. Striplin Jr. in honor of his wife, Rhonda. This sculpture was chosen to be the first because the Moultons wanted a significant piece depicting the mission of the hospital; the protective mother with an infant and a child seemed perfect.

“Follow the Leader” by artist W. Stanley Proctor was the second sculpture placed, and from there the grounds bloomed with sculpted beauty. Sculptures are constantly being added, keeping grounds director Greg Bolin and his longtime devoted crew, McWell Hogue and John Jones, busy.

In 2009 the park was named in honor of Moulton’s wife, Geri (above), who led in its creation and development. It is now considered one of the country’s premier sculpture parks. The Moultons’ concept for the park was to create a comfortable, cheerful place where children and their families could get away from the hospital to find peace, calm and joy.

(Photo by Kym Sigler)

Over the years, patients’ families, hospital friends and other patrons have generously donated more sculptures created by world-famous artists. Each piece has its unique story. Each has been carefully chosen to represent the donor’s specific desire — to honor a lost child, a spouse, the benevolence of a physician, the caring hospital staff — all given to help others enjoy a visual gift of peaceful beauty on the hospital campus and to help support the healing process.

So if you have the opportunity to stroll through this Children’s Park, you may expect to leave with a smile on your face. As Geri Moulton has stated, “It is true … Love grows by giving. And so much love has been given to the Geri Moulton Children’s Park.”

The park is open every day of the year and admission is free. For more information, visit www.southalabama.edu/usacwh and click on Geri Moulton Children’s Park or call 251-460-7032. A fund for perpetual maintenance of the park is in place; if you are interested in participating in the fund, please contact the USA Office of Development at 251-415-1636.

YOU ARE INVITED TO THESE UPCOMING GARDENING EVENTS

What: Baldwin County Master Gardeners Monthly Meeting
When: Thursday, Aug. 10, 9:30 a.m.
Where: Gulf Coast Regional Research & Extension Center, 8300 Highway 104, Fairhope
Topic: Native American Horticulture

What: Mobile Master Gardeners Lunch and Learn
When: Monday, Aug. 21, noon to 1 p.m.
Where: Jon Archer Center, 1070 Schillinger Road N., Mobile
Topic: Straw Bale Gardening, Eric Schavey