For more than 75 years one of the most photographed areas within Bellingrath Gardens has been its Rockery. This series of flag stone steps with small terraces, waterfalls and pools descends between an elaborately built rock garden. Like the Gardens themselves, this area offers a winding path with surprises ahead.
The area had a less than glamorous beginning. The hillside was washed out by water draining away from an artesian spring. It left a muddy trail leading down to what is now Mirror Lake.
Architect George Rogers designed Bellingrath Gardens and the couple’s home. The design for the Rockery belongs to Bessie Morse Bellingrath. It is not known what her inspiration was for this space but her nephew recalled overhearing his aunt and the architect standing and looking down at the washout.
Mr. Rogers was showing his client his plans for the area. She listened politely and then shook her head. “No, Mr. Rogers, that’s not what I had in mind.” The stunned architect was not accustomed to having his designs discarded and he asked what she was thinking.
In great detail she described a rock garden, steps angled and turning with terraces and waterfalls. The architect listened in surprise and finally said, “Oh I don’t know now Miss Bessie. What you described sounds very complicated and could run into a great deal of money.” “Well,” she answered, “whose money is it?”
Mrs. Bellingrath personally supervised the construction of the Rockery and the placement of every rock, flower and shrub. The result is a masterpiece in garden design and now that it has been carefully restored is sure to delight visitors for another 75 years.