One man's vision becomes...Hoover's Botanical Dream
Eddie Aldridge had a vision.
In 1966 Eddie Aldridge, a nurseryman, was hired to plant some magnolia trees on a piece of property near the corner of Lorna Road and Rocky Ridge Ranch Road. He and his father, Loren, both noted horticulturalists, immediately realized the property was something special. They knew it was the perfect site for a botanical garden.
The Coxe Family Estate, as the property was known, did not become available for purchase until 11 years later, but the vision had survived. Eddie wasted no time making an offer and thus, the development of Aldridge Botanical Gardens began.
Eddie and his wife, Kay, lived at the estate until the mid-1990s when they conveyed it to the City of Hoover. The land was dedicated as a public garden, and a resolution was passed to ensure that the property would remain so in perpetuity. In 1997, a Master Plan was commissioned and approved, and a board was appointed. Efforts to make the property a showplace began in earnest.
In June 2002, Aldridge Botanical Gardens opened to the public. The 30-acre woodland garden, situated in the heart of Hoover, surrounds a seven-acre lake. Visitors can wander through the woods or simply rest on a bench as they enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature at its finest.
The Aldridges' trademark Snowflake hydrangeas flourish in abundance, as do wildflowers, hosta, camellias, graceful calla lilies and many other varieties of flowers, bushes and trees. Rock walls, bridges, garden sculptures and arbors punctuate the landscape, and a gently sloping waterfall named in honor of Kay Aldridge tumbles 150 feet to the lake. Since opening, Aldridge Botanical Gardens has been twice featured in Southern Living magazine and received accolades such as the Mayor's Award for commercial beautification and the prestigious Area Award from the Jefferson County Beautification Board. The Snowflake Hydrangea has been designated Hoover's Official City Flower by the Hoover City Council. Visitors have come from all over the country and many foreign countries to view the gardens.
Annual events at Aldridge Botanical Gardens include the Hydrangea Festival during May and June featuring the popular Hydrangea Sale, Hydrangeas Under the Stars garden benefit and Art in the Garden with the works of more than 60 Alabama artists on display. Fall brings the Fall Festival featuring many activities for children, including the Fishing Derby, Scarecrows in the Garden and the Harvest Celebration. The annual Greenery Sale and Holiday Open House happens in December each year. In addition to public events, the house and gardens are used for retreats, meetings, receptions, weddings and other private gatherings.
Aldridge Botanical Gardens is open year-round. Admission is free; donations are welcome. Family, individual and club memberships are available. Members receive discounts at the gift shop and on seminars, plus early bird shopping and discounts at plant sales twice a year.
More information can be found at http://www.aldridgegardens.com/ or by calling (205) 682-8019.