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Friday, September 20, 2013

My View of Rosedown Plantation (Part Three)

Rosedown Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana.

Today's post is the final look at the historic garden plantation, Rosedown.  After our introduction in part one, and our interior tour of the house in part two, we'll now take a final walk around the grounds.  And as promised, I'll introduce you to a friend we met along the way.

Just off the southwestern corner of the house, you'll find the formal gardens.  Admittedly, during our visit, there were not many flowers in bloom.  It was early September, and most of them were still in heat-check.  However, we did see plenty of marigolds, ageratum, phlox (white and pink), as well as flowering crepe myrtles and butterfly bushes.

But don't worry, in this view on the left, from the formal gardens, you can see that even the pond looks picturesque in the late morning sun.  
As I mentioned in the first post on Rosedown, Martha Turnbull was inspired by her trip to Europe in the 1850's to build these gardens, which eventually expanded to 28 acres of lush, carefully planned walks and gardens.  The old brick wall in this picture is what is left of the original conservatory, where many of the plants would have been carefully raised.

According the Louisiana State Park web site, these were some of the largest private gardens in the United States in the 19th century.

Midway down the grand Oak alley that approaches the house, you will see this view of the North Garden's fountain and summerhouse on the left.  There is a corresponding summerhouse in the South Garden.  The playful sounds of the fountain were a special addition to the stillness of the gardens.  

It would be very easy to lose yourself in the solitude and peace that shrouds these grounds like the Spanish moss on the oaks above.

  As soon as we arrived in the parking lot, this tough-looking fella crawled out from under a car and introduced himself.  He was eager to show us around.  After we paid the entrance fee (as of this date, the entrance fee is $10 a person) he accompanied us as we began our walk through the paths of the North Garden.  He was not in the least interested in the spider-webs that spanned the pathways, nor the menacing banana spiders that brooded in the center of them.  He was short enough to pass under them without giving them the least thought.

However, he was happy to have company, rubbing himself against my ankles as I stopped to take a few snapshots.  He even made sure to get my attention so that he would make it into my blog.  I only noticed he was gone when I heard him crashing through the bushes after a very noisy and frightened pigeon.

The sun-dappled privet hedges and paths provide plenty of opportunity for visitors to take in this breath-taking plantation.  For those of you who are gardening enthusiasts, the bookstore at Rosedown sells copies of Martha Turnbull's extensive gardening journals, which detail the intricacies of the preparation and maintenance processes necessary to create and sustain such impressive landscaping.

A link is provided at the end of this post if you are interested in the diary.

This map, which is provided at the beginning of the tour, gives you an idea of the scope of the Rosedown gardens.  During the 1950's restoration, great care was taken to use the most accurate varieties of plants they could find.  Using Martha's diary, they were able to recreate her antebellum world.  

Many thanks go out to the staff of Rosedown Plantation for their friendliness and hard work.  It made for an enjoyable stroll beneath spreading oak trees, cypress trees, and even the oldest pine tree in the state.  We won't soon forget this world that is well off the beaten path of all that is ordinary.

And one last bit of advice for visitors:  There is no restaurant on the grounds.  However, just down the road in St. Francisville, you'll see Sonny's Pizza, a local joint with some of the best pizza I've had in a long time.  Don't hesitate to check them out.

Like the photograph of the approach to Rosedown at the top of this post?  It is available as a coffee mug at the following link.

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