Mum’s the Word

Fall’s favorite bloom flourishes throughout the South, particularly at one historic Alabama home

Photo: Courtesy Bellingrath Gardens and Home

Summer might be over, but the flowers aren’t. Fall’s favorite bloom, the showy chrysanthemum, flourishes throughout the South, particularly at one historic Alabama home.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore, Alabama, creates the country’s largest outdoor mum display each year. This year’s 58th Annual Fall Outdoor Cascading Chrysanthemums runs from late October through November at the estate located thirty minutes south of Mobile.

Stroll Bellingrath’s 65 public acres, and you’ll see thousands of mums in shades of yellow, red, bronze, lavender, and white. Four-foot-long cascades of blossoms grown on-site drape bridges and balconies, wrap columns, and spill from baskets and containers.

The rambling estate of one of the first Coca-Cola bottlers in the Southeast, Bellingrath opened its gardens to the public in 1932. The mum displays took off in the 1950s and 60s. In 1962, the horticultural staff shared a newsletter with visitors that compared the display to a more famous and cherished Southern floral explosion: “Literally thousands of [chrysanthemums] ranging from the small daisy type to the huge pompons have been featured in much the same way that azaleas are featured in late winter and spring,” the newsletter declared.

Today, visitors can judge for themselves whether the fall blossoms rival those of spring. If you’re planning a trip, check the website’s “Mum Watch” for peak bloom times.