Alabama Bound: The Land Of Camelias And Oakleaf Hydrangeas

As part of our State Flower Project, we are asking people from around the country to share some of their favorite places in their local communities to see their state flower. Ben Johnson, a playwright, author and avid gardener, says these are the best places in Alabama to see flowers in their natural habitat.
He also says that to buy flowers in Alabama, one should visit Stephanie Cook at Cullman Florist.
Oakleaf Hydrangea, the native wildflower of Alabama

“Anything can grow in Alabama and does. You can put a thorn in the dirt at dusk and have an armload of roses by dawn.”

That’s a line, the narrator, Miz Ruby, uses in my comedic play, “So Southern: The Seven Keys to Cullman County.”
Pink Camellias at Bellingrath Gardens
But it is oh so very true. Our Alabama state flower is actually an immigrant, the Japanese camellia. Camellias came to the U.S. via the tea trade in the 1900s. My favorite place to see mounds of gorgeous camellias is at Bellingrath Gardens in sub-tropical Mobile.

Aldridge Gardens Specializes In Hydrangeas

Not only does Alabama have a state flower, we also have an Official State Wildflower, the indigenous Oakleaf Hydrangea. Aldridge Gardens just outside Birmingham, in the middle of the state, is the prime place to see clouds of Oakleaf Hydrangea blossoms. Y’all come!
                                               Ben Johnson South, playwright and author