Loren L. Aldridge
Loren L. Aldridge, a native of Boaz and a 1926 agricultural education graduate of Alabama Polytechnic Institute, won many honors during his years as a student at Auburn. Football letterman, Spade, Phi Kappa Phi and vice president of the Ag Club are just a few listed in that year’s API yearbook. He was therein described as the most popular man to ever grace the Auburn campus. Combined with a keen intellect and uncommon diligence, Aldridge’s personality certainly did contribute to the success he enjoyed later in life.
After leaving the Plains in 1926, Aldridge began his career as a vegetable farmer. The farm evolved into a greenhouse and, later, a nursery business. Founder of both the Bessemer Floral Company and Aldridge Garden Center and Nursery, he became well known in the nursery and floral industry and served as president of the Alabama Florist Association, predecessor to the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association.
In 1969, an encounter with an inquisitive neighbor led to the accomplishment for which Aldridge and son Eddie are perhaps best—or least—known. The neighbor brought Aldridge, by that time a respected horticulturist, a cutting that bore a resemblance to the native oakleaf hydrangea, but with several differences. Over the course of the next two years, Aldridge and his son successfully rooted cuttings from the same plant and, in 1971, were awarded a patent for the Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’, or the Snowflake hydrangea.
In the years since, the Snowflake hydrangea has become a favorite garden plant not just in the American South, but around the globe. In addition to Auburn University’s campus, the plant can be found thriving in New York’s Central Park, the grounds of the White House in Washington, D.C., and in gardens throughout Europe, Japan and New Zealand.
The younger Aldridge, a 2017 inductee into the Alabama Agricultural Hall of Honor, credits his father both with his own success as a horticulturist and with the idea to establish Aldridge Gardens in Hoover, Alabama.
Aldridge and his wife, Zeta, had two sons, Mac and Eddie. Aldridge passed away in 1978.