Bellingrath Gardens and Home

Spending two weeks in Walton County, Florida has been a quiet respite for us and we have enjoyed having this beautiful beach mostly to ourselves. We chose this destination and time of year, which is on the cusp of high season, for that purpose. A mix of cool sunny days and misty rain has provided the backdrop for relaxation that we were looking forward to. As Malcolm says, “we have perfected doing absolutely nothing.”

Our morning walk

On the days that we were not “doing nothing” we explored the surrounding area, revisiting favorite places and making new discoveries. We visited Bellingrath Gardens many years ago (in summer) and it is definitely worthy of seasonal return visits. Peak season for the garden is Springtime, (March/April) but it has been unseasonably warm, so we took a chance and drove two hours northwest to Mobile, Alabama.

Bellingrath Gardens

This weekend retreat belonged to Walter and Bessie Bellingrath who made their fortune by owning Coca-Cola bottling franchises in Southern Alabama. The sixty-five acre estate boasts beautifully manicured gardens with something blooming in every season. When we visited, the Azaleas were just beginning to open and many varieties of camellias (not pictured) were in full bloom throughout the gardens.

from the greenhouse

The 10,500 sf home which was built in 1935 has guided tours on the hour and may be viewed for an additional fee. We purchased the combination ticket and enjoyed the tour and history lesson very much.

The home is a museum and displays Mrs. Bellingrath’s extensive porcelain collection and many fine pieces of furniture that are original to the home along with additional pieces that were relocated from the guest house.

The guest house displays the country’s largest porcelain sculpture collection. The piece below was created by Edward Marshall Boehm. His works can be found in many prominent institutions throughout the world, including the Vatican Museum which has a wing named in his honor. It is fitting that this collection should be located at Bellingrath, considering Mrs. Bellingrath’s love of porcelain and nature.

Inside the home was difficult to photograph and I apologize for the awkward photographs below, but this was a ‘tour’, and one must be considerate of others. ugh!

Now, this is a cook’s kitchen!
An intimate Breakfast room where Mr. and Mrs. Bellingrath dined when there were no visitors in the home. It is located just behind the kitchen.

The style of the house is distinctively Southern, with wide covered porches intentional to the high elevation and river breezes. One can almost taste the sweet tea served on the front porch or at one of the many garden overlooks. Who could tire of this view?

This is one of the most photographed vantage points in the garden. My photo doesn’t tell the whole story, but in one month or less the trees will have green leaves and the landscape will be ablaze with color from the azaleas that are just beginning to make an appearance.

This photo from the Bellingrath Garden’s website will give you a better idea of the true beauty of this graceful garden.

This was a good day and well worth the two hour drive. We took a different route home and encountered the National Sea Shore between Pensacola and Navarre Beach. This thirty-five mile drive encompasses seven miles of heaven which is protected as a national park. The endless vistas of sand dunes and crystal clear water are mesmerizing.

There are lots of convenient pull-outs for picture opps and we encountered one very nice RV Park for all you guys who are inclined to experience this pristine beach front property as it should be – naturally. Joe, Beth, you guys need to check this out. I know you will love it.

Our visit is winding down, just as surrender to relaxation is becoming second nature and we are reluctant to return to real life, but alas, we will return, refreshed and renewed.

31 Comments on “Bellingrath Gardens and Home

  1. This looks absolutely beautiful. Love that first picture especially. Looks like a place we would enjoy too. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Suzanne, thanks for a tour of the home and gardens and the secluded beaches. What a great way to spend the day. Thanks too for the heads up on the area between Pensacola and Navarre beach. We’ve been to the Fort Pickens section of the National Seashore but not to that part of it.

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  3. Thanks, Suzanne, for the tour and your beautiful photos. I know it’s awkward to take good photos indoor and during a group tour. I love the sand dunes, the beaches, and crystal clear water in this area of Florida. I had an intro to it when my family vacationed in Destin a few years ago.

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    • Natalie, I always feel pressure to get just get the picture instead of checking my settings when other people are around. It would have taken less than a minute to adjust the brightness, but oh well. Destin has beautiful beaches but it is getting a bit overrun with trinket shops and tourists traps. I like Miramar Beach and Sandestin where it is a bit quieter and more residential.

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  4. “On the days that we were not ‘doing nothing’…” I love that 🙂

    The gardens and the house are lovely. Thanks for bringing us along.

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  5. Suzanne,
    Thanks for the heads up on the RV Park. If you have the name of it, send it along. We’re going to be in the area in January. Thanks for taking us on the tour and sharing pictures. The azaleas will probably be in peak form within a few days. BTW, I can “do nothing” with the best of them! Joe

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    • Joe, I can’t recall the name, but I do remember that there was a good looking RV Park at Pensacola Beach near the ‘entrance’ of the National Seashore parkway and another small one inside the park that had one RV parked there. It looked like it had nice facilities and was directly on the ocean. Not being an RV’r I know nothing about hook ups and such, so not sure if it would be suitable for your needs. I’m sure a google search will be productive.

      Doing nothing is an art form that I highly recommend.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Views, colourful blooms & sandy beaches… what’s not to love? I too could imagine taking tea on that porch.

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  7. Suzanne, your photos are so beautiful, I particularly love the colors on that first one…your morning beach walk. Stunning! How fantastic to take it easy and relax. We could do with some of that, since our travels have been quite fast paced. Really enjoyed this post.

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  8. “We have perfected doing absolutely nothing” … I like your version of doing nothing 🙂

    I’m going to imagine a soft, warm breeze coming off the beach even as I look out over my backyard full of snow.

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  9. Bellingrath Gardens looks absolutely beautiful. Longwood Gardens, near my home, was originally the estate of Pierre duPont (chemical manufacturer). Both gardens are gorgeous and they appear somewhat similar.

    Bill and I have perfected the art of doing nothing (since retirement) too.

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  10. That was definitely worth the two hour drive! I was a little surprised to see the Hibiscus. We grow them here in SoCal and they are quite ubiquitous in Hawaii… I’ve just never thought of them an East Coast flower. I love the first picture of the (almost) deserted beach… so peaceful!

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    • Janis, Hibiscus are prolific in Florida, both on the East and West Coast, but don’t extend much further North. That one surprised me since the climate in Mobile, Alabama is significantly cooler than most of Florida. We never encountered more than a dozen people on our morning walks and loved that solitary time..

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Two of my favorite things in your post… sand dunes and azaleas! Love the beach photo, which I enjoyed on your instagram page as well. Perfecting doing nothing is an absolute skill and clearly you did well. Sounds perfect.

    Peta

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  12. Hi Suzanne,
    After our recent visit to the Bok Tower Garden I can see that this one should be on the list as well. I love that you and Malcolm have perfected your “art of doing nothing”…I wish I could say that, although I am working on it!
    Beautiful photos, as usual. The beach looks fabulous. I wish I could get Dan to appreciate the beach a bit more…he’s more of a lakes sort of guy…

    Like

  13. Doing nothing — sounds lovely, but not something I’ve ever mastered! However, I’m getting some practice during this period of sheltering in place. I especially love your top photo of your morning walk on the beach.

    Jude

    Like

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