By Mona Moore
Photography by John O’Hagan
The people of Mobile, Alabama, have a way of cherishing the past while building upon it for the future. From restored hotels to revamped gardens, this South Alabama city continues to delight and amaze visitors with its history, Southern charm, and reverence for nature. The state’s third-largest metropolis sits on Mobile Bay along the Gulf Coast, where it has served as a military stronghold and a thriving port of call for generations. But Mobile’s roots run deeper than its roles in historic battles or commerce. Indeed, the master gardeners who reside within its county lines are legendary.
Nearly 90 years ago, Mobile earned its Azalea City moniker when Junior Chamber of Commerce members (now known as Jaycees) encouraged residents to plant the longtime favorite perennial in their yards. Meanwhile, volunteers blanketed the blooming bushes along streets and public spaces. From that campaign came Mobile’s Azalea Trail Maids, Southern belles tasked with greeting guests while the azaleas were in bloom.