A woodland garden planted for an array of color throughout all seasons, Aldridge Botanical Gardens is the legacy of Eddie Aldridge and his wife Kay. In 1977, they bought this forested valley to preserve it from development.
It became a showcase for a very special flowering plant, a wild hydrangea that the Aldridge family discovered, propagated, and patented before sharing it with the world.
The Snowflake hydrangea is notable for its intricate blossoms. Thanks to the family, this species is now grown in garden settings around the world. During the summer months, the woods here come alive with their blooms.
Eddie and Kay Aldridge lived on the property until gifting it to the City of Hoover as a botanical garden. This 30-acre woodland garden opened to the public in 2002.
Plan Your Visit
Location: Hoover, AL
Address: 3530 Lorna Rd, Hoover AL 35216
Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM winter, 8 AM to 7 PM Daylight Savings Time
Fee: Free. Donations appreciated.
No pets, bicycles, or smoking. Please don’t feed the geese or ducks. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Most of the gardens are accessible. Groups of 10 or most should notify the gardens prior to arrival.
Restrooms are located at the Aldridge House on the lake.
From Birmingham, Alabama, take Interstate 65 south to exit 252. Cross US 31 and continue south on Lorna Rd to the garden entrance, 1.8 miles south on the left.
Inside the Gardens
Many of the densest plantings are close to the entrance, so those with limited mobility or limited time can enjoy what lies along the meandering paths between the parking area and the boathouse.
At the entrance, expect day lilies and other annual color around the gatehouse.
Along the Main Walkway, hydrangeas, of course, are the highlight, but colorful dogwoods and azaleas also steal the show.
The first of more than 150 species coming into bloom during our March visit, the hydrangeas – in addition to the notable Snowflake – include Alabama natives like Oak Mountain, Snow Queen, and Harmony.
Whimsical artwork with natural themes will catch your eye as you reach the first intersection with its Pindo palms in planters.
While much of the art is oversized, the mother duck and ducklings by the pond had us fooled from a distance.
In front of the Aldridge House, gardens seamlessly blend together, showcasing camellias, azaleas, and dogwoods in early spring.
The Arbor Garden features maple species, clematis, and moonlight roses.
Identification is cleverly written on stones at the base of notable plants, complementing use of the usual metal tags.
In the Shade Garden, look for many different colors of hydrangea in bloom each summer beneath the pines. Rhododendron flank a stepping-stone path.
Hostas and ferns thrive here, especially near the recirculating stream. Flowing through this garden, carefully crafted cascades feed the seven-acre lake at the heart of the gardens.
A tiny Bog Garden is tucked along the base of the stairstepping cascade, with pitcher plants drawing our attention.
An open wildflower meadow attracts both birds and butterflies during the spring, summer, and fall blooms of native species. It is traversed by a short loop trail.
The half-mile trail around the lake begins here as well, surprising us with how steep the grades were in several spots.
The lake is a dammed natural waterway, with the footpath crossing the outflow on a bridge. Watch for the frog pond in this area.
In early spring, when the leaves were still off the trees in this urban forest, we had excellent views of the lake and gardens from every vantage point along the loop trail.
As the footpath returned to the planted area, it provided a set of stairs down to an ornate bench as it drew close to the boathouse.
It’s in this final woodland garden along the loop that you’ll find the densest concentration of hydrangeas.
Called the Michael Dirr Collection, it contains hydrangeas donated by this notable University of Georgia hydrangea expert.
Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic. Picnic tables are in the woods near the entry gate and at the boathouse, a pavilion with vending machines that extends over the lake.
The Aldridge House is available for rent for meetings and gatherings, and is frequently used for bridal preparation for weddings. The Arbor Garden and the Pavilion are two of the more popular wedding locations.
If you’re a birder, bring your binoculars. Check at the front kiosk before you walk in for a take-along list of birds spotted in the gardens. A birding deck is along the nature trail, and the wildflower meadow is fruitful for songbirds.
Walk through Aldridge Botanical Gardens with us by viewing our photographs from our visit. Click to open the gallery.