Days Gone By - stories from the past

Azaleas in Mobile, older than the state [photographs and video]


Photo by : Carmen K. Sisson/Cloudybright

pink pride azalea
Photo by : Carmen K. Sisson/Cloudybright


It’s a shame this interesting 1935 film is not in color so you can truly enjoy the beautiful azaleas blooming at Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile, Alabama this time of year. The city of Mobile has been famous for being the Azalea City and Bellingrath Gardens and Home has a dramatic display of azaleas every spring. in the the Gardens.4  


The Azalea’s history is even older than the state of Alabama.

” In the middle of the Eighteenth Century Fifise Langlois, returning to Mobile from a visit to his childhood home in Toulouse, France, brought three colors of Azaleas to Mobile. From that time on we find the Azaleas woven into the pattern of Mobile’s history.  When France ceded Mobile to England in 1763, visitors came to see the Azaleas; and in 1779 when the Spaniards took Mobile they marveled at the glory of these flowers.  azalea and butterfly

Since the turn of the Twentieth Century some of the bushes planted about the middle of the Eighteenth Century have become almost trees, towering fifteen to twenty feet in height and measuring over a hundred feet in circumference.

Ancient azaleas have been saved in Bellingrath Gardens near the city of Mobile.

Many of these ancient bushes have been brought into Bellingrath Gardens, where they are zealously guarded for this and other generations to enjoy and admire.” 3mobile azalea

Azaleas are so important in Mobile’s History that in 1929, with the encouragement of Mr. Sam Lackland, and the Mobile Junior Chamber of Commerce (now known as Mobile Jaycees), citizens of Mobile were asked to plant azaleas that would line local streets. This “azalea trail ran through many areas of the city and was marked by a pink line that ran through the middle of the street.”

Trail Court of Girls Greet Visitors

A Trail Maid Court of 10 girls greeted visitors to the opening on the Trail every year. The Court became so popular during the 1950’s that girls from around the Southeast bid to be a member of the court. “A decision was made to only allow girls from Mobile County to participate in the court and the America’s Junior Miss was formed as scholarship program for girls around the country.

Azalea Trail Maids become Ambassadors

The court as grown from its original 10 that only gathered for three days to 50 girls that represent the city of Mobile year round.”1

azalea trail maids

Besides serving as ambassadors for the city of Mobile, the girls have appeared nationally at “the Fourth of July Parade in Atlanta, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, the Christmas Parade in Chicago, the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, the Presidential Inauguration Parade for George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. and the Easter Parade in Walt Disney World.”2

azalea trail maids NationalAppearances

In the video below they participated in 2010 Easter Parade at Walt Disney World.



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  1. Growing up in Fairhope, a lot of things bring back memories, but azaleas have to be in the top ten.

  2. Mary Katherine Zarzour Charlotte Smith Susan Courtney Laura Holmes Grace Copeland Annie Gonzales Alison Casteix Helen Garstecki

  3. I always looked forward to the azaleas when I lived there. So beautiful

  4. Awesome ! That’s my South ! And do notice that in the old South CSA nation both races got along just fine. There never was any race problems in the South in their history until the Lincoln Carpetbaggers infiltrated. And they were always called Negroes – their proper race name, not “Blacks”, which is an insult in reality since it is not attached to the race, but to the Communist movement that actively began in the 1860’s. Communist 48er’s began their infiltration’s in the late 1840’s..

    1. You are an ignorant fool. This isn’t the place for your racist revisionist drivel.

  5. What Great OLD footage…
    Wonderful history preserved!!

  6. Fifise Langlois from Toulouse, France introduced azaleas to Mobile in 1754. My mothers maiden name was Langlois but I did not know about this relative’s relationship to Mobile until I moved here from Australia in 1992. Proud of the family tie to Fifise Langlois.

  7. My Grandmother, Eunice Moore, had beautiful azalea bushes at her home in Maplesville. She loved her flowers and would give pieces of her plants to my Mama. Unfortunately, my “Mawmaw’s” beautiful azaleas, and hard work have been destroyed, but I will always remember the beautiful blooms that would show up every year thanks to her dedication and care.

  8. Like Kimberly Loyack, my Grandmother, Bertha Bryant, raised Azaleas in Rose Hill, Al, & gave a “cut” to anyone who asked. Her favorite trip was a yearly visit to Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile. Her flower gardens were lost in a house fire years ago.

  9. Interesting video about Mobile!

  10. Pride of mobile getting hard too find

  11. If you have never been there, it’s worth the trip. Absolutely beautiful.

  12. I love that purple color azalea. Also of crepe myrtle. The other colors are nice, but nothing can beat that deep purple color.

  13. When I lived in Mobile, these were the most beautiful azalea’s bushes. When in bloom they were everywhere. When I hear Alabama that’s what I think about an also the people.

  14. I have sung the song, MOBILE, for years but I don’t know who recorded it. I’m originally from Fayette, Al, now living in North Carolina. When I ask people from Mobile if they know the song I’ve never got yes for an answer. It is such a beautiful song & tells of the southern bells swaying & how it became a heaven by the name of Mobile!

    1. I believe it was Julius LaRosa who recorded the song “Mobile.”

  15. Denise Fowler Panter

    1. Wow!! Carolyn Fowler check these out! 🙂

  16. Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that purple color before!

  17. Thanks for sharing this beautiful picture and these interesting facts.

  18. loved the old film and love my Mobile. Best time to visit Bellingrath Gardens when the azaleas are in bloom. miss those days. How about our Trail Maids!! Southern Belles, one and all!

  19. Having been born in Crenshaw County, Alabama, we traveled to Mobile several years to see the beautiful azaleas trail. Thanks for this article that brings back so many memories.
    My father attended a Veterinary College in Mobile in the 1920 or 30s. I heard that it burned and was never rebuilt. Do you have any knowledge of or facts on this college??

  20. Robert Adams, lawd look at the azaleas! Lol

  21. Catherine Smith Garrett

  22. Mobile used to be called the Azalea city for good reason.

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