Cornerstone Gardens and Arboretum was created as a place of meditation, rest and reflection for Carriage House Repose & Restore, Inc., a Christian support ministry for ministers, missionaries and evangelists. The Carriage House is situated on the property close to the gardens, and the pastors and others come to stay there as a short-term respite. The caretakers and stewards of the Carriage House ministry have opened the gardens to the general public so as to share the natural beauty and wonder of over 5,000 plants and trees comprised of over 150 different species.
Cornerstone Gardens is within walking distance of downtown Mobile, Alabama at 1066 Government Street, situated among the old homes and landscapes of the nationally recognized Oakleigh Garden Historic District. The Garden derives its name from Jesus Christ, referenced by The God of Israel in Isaiah 28:16. Dr. Charles Ryrie says: “Jesus Christ is a foundation stone in His atonement, a tested stone in His temptations, and a costly (precious) cornerstone in His relationship to His people.”
The Gardens offer interesting and appealing natural beauty at all seasons. Come visit and take time to learn more about the plant collections while enjoying one of the area’s finest private gardens.
Cornerstone Gardens is comprised of a collection of gardens. From the Government Street gate, the guest enters a formal British Garden made up of all white flowering plants and trees, including Natchez crepe myrtles, Frostproof gardenias, Mine-no-yuki C. sasanquas, Autumn Ivory azaleas, Snow White indian hawthorns, and others. The British Garden is bordered by magnificent pathways that lead to one of the largest privately owned Koi Ponds in the area.
Once over the Koi Pond bridge, the visitor enters a Fragrance Garden with plants of various fragrances for the visually impaired. This pathway takes you either into the working greenhouse, replete with new flower cuttings and young plants, or to the next larger venue, a Japanese Woodlands Garden.
The Japanese Woodlands Garden features a winding pathway which takes the visitor past a vase fountain pond, a Shishi Odoshi bamboo water fountain, then to a delightful Lotus pond. Two bridges lead over a long dry stream bed of water worn rocks. This secluded garden contains many native Japanese plants and trees.
The Blanding V. Drinkard Camellia Garden, named after the “Dean of Mobile’s camellias”, is spread throughout Cornerstone Gardens. This garden features many old and new camellia cultivars, including, C. japonica Walter D. Bellingrath, C. japonica Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, C. reticulata Ray Gentry, C. sasanqua Leslie Ann, C. non-reticulata hybrid Freedom Bell, and many others.
Smaller gardens surround the larger British Garden and Japanese Woodlands Garden. These include the Nelsie T. Harris Rose Garden, Cliffs’ Shade Garden, a Hemerocallis (daylily) garden, a herb garden, and a sedum garden, all made up of representative plants.
The arboretum of trees is spread throughout Cornerstone Gardens and is comprised of many varieties of trees, including Live Oak, Drake Elm, Southern Magnolia, Sweetbay Magnolia, Cherokee Princess Dogwood, Sycamore, River Birch, Camphor, Redbud, Japanese Maple, Japanese Magnolia, Crepe Myrtle, Mulberry, and Long Leaf Pine, among others.
Cornerstone Gardens offers guided, instructional tours for all ages by one of the founders, a master gardener. The origin, nature and description of the plants and trees are discussed. Tours by schools, churches and other organizations can be set by appointment.