I had a wonderful trip a few weeks ago that involved FLOWERS and SAND, so I thought I would take the opportunity to describe my trip before I continue on to my regular edition of Talkin Dirt. If you have ever longed for the smell of salt water and the sight of white sand coupled with some of the most beautiful flowers and vegetation in the South, then the Fairhope/Point Clear area of Alabama is where you need to head! On a whim, my husband and I decided to go to the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama. We had been there once before and I was thrilled with his spur of the moment trip idea.
Point Clear is located on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay only about a mile or two from the charming city of Fairhope. It was originally named Punta Clara by the Spanish during their stay in the region and was translated to Point Clear by its English successors. From as early as the 1800’s, wealthy families from Mobile, New Orleans and across the united States chose to spend their summers in Point Clear. In the days of yellow fever outbreaks, Point Clear residents believed they were escaping to what was deemed as “good air” because of the daily breeze off of Mobile Bay. Point Clear is a community of around 2,000 residents and has some of the most spectacular vegetation in the south with beautiful live oaks and azaleas overflowing in the gardens of some of the most beautiful cottages and bay front homes. The older homes are centered along the Boardwalk but there are also many beautiful homes along the rolling pastures of the old polo fields that are on larger estate size lots.
As I mentioned above, we stayed at the Grand Hotel which originated 158 years ago. “The Grand” was used as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War. Other historical landmarks are St. Frances at the Point Episcopal Church, a lovely ornate church and Punta Clara Kitchens which makes the country’s best pralines and fudge. The flowers at the hotel were so spectacular as you can see from my pictures. FAIRHOPE was founded in 1894 by a society based on cooperative community ownership. It was named for its members’ belief that their enterprise had a “fair hop” of success. It continued to evolve as a home to dreamers, becoming a hotbed of the progressive education movement of the early 20th century and a popular artists’ colony and winter escape for musicians, intellectuals and writers. Today it is a resort town and upscale bedroom community for Mobile with about 17,000 residents. It has more than 20 galleries, a major annual juried crafts show, a first Friday art walk and a dedication to excellent municipal services. The original corporation is still a major landowner and has given much back to the community, especially parks, including a popular waterfront pier complex.
The flowers in the downtown area are to die for and the Horticulture and Landscape division of Public Works is responsible for them. Floral displays are added to downtown, bayside and commercial areas every 7 to 8 weeks. Fairhope’s Horticulture Specialists work out of 5 city owned greenhouses. Instead of trying to figure out what combination of seasonal flowers to plant, I think I might just copy what Fairhope plants for each season. They are just perfect and it would take the planning out of the process!
On Sunday morning of Mother’s Day, my husband and I decided to visit BELLINGRATH GARDENS which was about a 45 minute drive for us. Bellingrath Gardens is 65 -acre botanical garden and mansion located on the Fowl River in Theodore, a suburb of Mobile. It was the creation of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bellingrath and began as a fishing camp! The gardens first opened to the public in 1932 while a national garden club meeting was taking place in Mobile. Mr. Bellingrath placed an ad in the Mobile paper, announcing that anyone who would like to see the spring garden could do so free of charge. After an overwhelming response, the couple decided to keep the gardens open year-round, beginning in 1934.
There is always something blooming every season at Bellingrath so don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to be there to see the azaleas blooming. Mr. Bellingrath once said “The gardens are like a beautiful woman with a different gown for each week of the year.” This trip made for a perfect Mother’s Day weekend and remember, it is only about a 51/2 hour trip!
KathyKathy VanVeckhoven, Realtor (318) 388-0941 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Click here for last month’s Talkin’ Dirt with Kathy Article