Behind the Scenes of a Plantation

Farms, ranches, and plantations require equipment for planting, harvesting, and storing crops.  Some of those items can still be seen at Rosedown Plantation in St. Francesville, LA.

Guests are free to wander around the property.  Around the house, there are plants and fountains.

it’s difficult to know which things have been restored.  This brick doesn’t look old enough to be original.

Further away are the formal gardens.

Then, there are old buildings used to store equipment and vehicles.

Could not find any signs to explain the purpose of the different items.

A purple Salvia and maybe a butterfly bush.

An area of clover makes a soft pathway.

The kitchen building is quite a distance from the main house.  This served two purposes:  eliminate the fire danger to large main house and to avoid heating up the house in the long hot, humid summers.

A brillant red Celosia.  I wonder how well it reseeds.

Surely, the metal grate around the bottom of the house is new.  This allows for airflow under the pier and beam building, but also keeps out wild critters.

The kitchen house would also have been used to store food stuffs.

Beautiful pots of Spider Lilies on porch.

Ta da – the kitchen.  This large cooking fireplace explains why the kitchen is away from the house – fire risk and lots of heat.

Some beauty before a goodbye to the plantation.  Love, love Gomphrenas.

This is the last post about St. Francisville.  Hope you love history as much as I do.

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”  Maya Angelou

Plantation House

No matter how much we abhor the idea of plantations and slaves, it is a fact of history.  There is no justification for the slave system.  So visiting a plantation in no way condones what happened.

Around the main house is shady.  Considering the heat and humility and no air-conditioning, shade was necessary.

The entry way shows the opulence of the house.  The floors looked like linoleum, but the guide assured us that everything is either original or time specific.

Interest in Greek and Roman decor during the 1800’s in Europe and the U.S. seems strange.  But it was considered classy.

Plantation houses provided upscale living for its time period.

No running water, so this was the method of taking a bath – a metal sitting tub.  Is this where “sitz bath” comes from?  The upstairs window was opened and buckets of water were pulled up by servants using a pulley system.

Look at those thin little towels.  They look like cup towels.

The nursery was used for the youngest children.

The area close to the house had walking paths and some water features and shrubs.

Boxwood hedges edged the paths leading to the fountain and the house.  The flower garden was away from the house where it was sunny.  The small building left of center was for garden supplies.

In the sunlight, many different flowers could be grown.  Some Marigolds remain.

At first, I questioned the use of the rebar stand but learned that it was used way back in the 15th century.  They used high quality cast iron that did not corrode.

Not sure if these are Foxglove, Plumbago, or something else.

The deep color of these Globe Amaranth, also known as Gomphrenas or Bachelor Buttons, are stunning.

Life today with our conveniences is easier and hopefully, our respect for all peoples has improved.  But the daily news proves otherwise.

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves” ― Abraham Lincoln

Rosedown Plantation

Across the South, there are several plantation houses still standing.  One of the most intact ones left is the 8,000 square foot house at Rosedown Plantation. It was built in 1835 outside of Saint Francisville, Louisiana.

From the front gate, seen here, a long driveway under a canopy of overhanging trees and drooping Spanish moss leads to the stately house.

Can’t you just see Scarlett O’Hara with her parasol and hooped skirt waiting at the front portico to welcome guests that step down from their carriages.

The house and expansive grounds around it are in exceptional condition.  The cotton fields and slaves’ quarters have disappeared, but about 50 acres remain that show the grand scale of this place.

This plantation is well known for its formal gardens.

Couldn’t figure out what kind of small tree this is.  The flowers look like roses, so maybe it’s a small bush beside the tree.

Don’t ya love the modern fire hydrant in that strategic location?

Each section of this large formal garden was surrounded by Boxwood shrubs.  It all seemed rather neglected.  However, it was October.

No indoor plumbing but water to fountains.  How does that work?

At one time, the area probably wasn’t as overgrown and scrubby looking.

Total mystery what this is.  The leaves and flowers look like Begonias.

Love Spider Lilies.

Although it’s difficult to admit and way harder to understand, plantations are a part of the South’s history.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

Shady and Serene

One of the meeting places for the Southern Gardener Symposium was in an annex building of a stately church.

Grace Episcopal Church in Saint Francisville, LA was completed in 1829.  It was shelled during the Civil War and rebuilt in the 1880’s.

Beside the church, a large cemetery with old gravestones is a quiet place to wander around.

There’s something sobering to be reminded of people who lived so long ago.  History reminds us of the accomplishments of people who came before us.  It also serves as a warning of mistakes not to repeat.  The problems and worries that occupy much of our everyday thoughts and time don’t seem quite so important.

The land in this area is so fertile, but I did not expect ferns growing on tree trunks and branches.

A sense of the past hangs in the air, along with the Spanish moss.

Seriously, how much rainfall is needed for ferns to sprout roots in tree bark?

Old churches make me sentimental and grateful for life and all its opportunities and obligations.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”   Bill Keane

Southern Garden Symposium

The Southern Garden Symposium met in Saint Francisville, Lousiana, in October, 2019.  Although I knew that gardening conditions are very different there than they are here in Central Texas, it was a chance to see some old southern gardens and hear some interesting speakers.Saint Francisville is a small town with few large meeting venues.  So attendees could choose different sessions held in small buildings in different parts of town.  On the first day, a catered lunch was provided at Afton Villa Gardens.

The antebellum home was destroyed by a fire in 1963.  The gardens remain and are used as a park.

Not sure if this concrete basket is as old as it looks, but it fits perfectly in the setting.

My kind of flower bed – massive plantings with different kinds of flowers.  There are red Zinnas, white Cleome Spider plants (Cleome hassleriana), Marigolds and Pentas.White and Pink Cleome Spider flowers look like sparklers.

Bright Marigolds mixed with Mexican Bush Sage.

English Ivy clinging to the old bricks, more Marigolds, and small purple flowers in the clay pot make a stunning display.

The same flowers were repeated in many beds.  I don’t know if that was intentional or because those flowers were suited for autumn.

Pink Cleome mixed with a wood fern and some kind of shrub.

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) is what I consider to be a Central Texas plant, but it obviously does well in other types of climates.

It is native to subtropical and tropical conifer forests in central and eastern Mexico.  This area is about the same latitude as Central Texas.

Brazilian Black and Blue Sage, also called Blue Anise Sage (Salvia guaranitica), needs some shade from midday sun.

Gardening book sales are always a hit anytime gardeners congregate.  Purple Plumbago or Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) in pots flanking the statute.

These large old tree with Spanish Moss hanging down just screams “southern garden.”

After lunch, there was plenty of time for wandering.Peaceful setting for wandering and relaxing.

“Southern living:  where the tea is sweet, words are drawn out, days are warm and faith is strong.”  unknown

Tyler Roses

Tyler, Texas, hosts Smith County Master Gardeners’ bulb sale every October.   A drawing card for the 2019 sale was Greg Grant.  He is a Texas plant guru, who has discovered and named quite a few natives.  Before the actual sale started, he spoke about the attributes of each bulb that would be for sale.  Naturally, this created interest in the sale and made us all lust for each type of bulb.

Tyler Convention Center was the sale location.  Behind the center are the famous Tyler Rose Gardens.

Following the long, long, dry summer was not the best time to visit the rose gardens, but we didn’t want to pass up that chance since we were there.

Tangerine Streams Rose is a Floribunda, which tends to be shorter bush roses.  Floribundas bloom with flowers in clusters.

Also a Foribunda, Charisma, looks like a poster child for roses.

Perfume Delight is a hybrid tea rose. Tea roses are repeat bloomers and were named because their fragrance had the scent of Chinese black tea.

Hybrid teas were created by cross-breeding two types of roses.  They bloom with one flower at the end of a long stem.

It was a cold, misty day, so we walked quickly through some of the gardens.

Coretta Scott King is a Grandiflora, which is a cross between a hybrid tea rose and a floribunda rose.  This is a florist rose with flower center taller than the outside petals.  Plus, the long stems make it easy for use in bouquets.

Black Bacara is a hybrid tea.

Christian Dior – another hybrid tea

Proud Land – hybrid tea

Iceberg Rose is a good example of a Floribunda.  Just look at all those blossoms.

Cherry Parfait – Grandiflora

There are hundreds of different roses.  I love them all, but to have them in my yard requires raised beds, amending the soil, and watering them.  That limits my choices.

Tyler is in East Texas, with high rain-fall and good soil.  Perfect spot for roses.

In one corner of the gardens, the Master Gardeners have a demonstration garden.  Love, love this plant.  I have one but don’t know the name of it.  It looks like the bush form of Gomphrena.

“Life is short.  Smile while you still have teeth.”  unknown

Garvan Gardens, Part Two

Garvan Gardens in Arkansas has a long history.  It was purchased by Arthur B. Cook in the 1920’s.  He owned Wisconsin-Arkansas Lumber Company and Malvern Brick and Tile Company.  When he died in 1934, his daughter, Verne Cook Garvan took over the companies.  As the female CEO of a major company in the south, she served in a unique position.

Today the gardens are owned by the University of Arkansas.

Verne Garvan was the first to develop the land and make it into a show garden.  The property is one of the fingers of land that juts out into Lake Hamilton, so it is surrounded on three sides by water.

Someone had fun creating ghoulish scenes.

Since this is a woodland gardens, it’s pretty shady in most areas.  But clearings, like this one, allows a space for sun loving plants.  Yellow Chrysanthemums grow in a formal design.

Not sure what this is.  The flowers look like Morning Glories, but I don’t think this is a vine.

We’ve visited Garvan Gardens before.  Their children’s section has always been a disappointment.  It mostly consists of large boulders that children can climb.  But this new attraction is well done.

The Tree House is entered through a raised bridge.

A side view of the Tree House shows three different levels inside.

Workmen are unloading pumpkins for a special Halloween event.  Not sure what the pattern will end up looking like.

On the left side of the walkway is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha), an excellent plant for central Texas, also.

I waited for this peacock to pose, but he was more interested in preening his feathers.  Duh.  Beautiful feather colors.My favorite part of all the garden is Anthony Chapel with its glass walls and ceiling.

It is used for weddings and other events.  There’s a separate building with dressing areas for brides and grooms and their attendants.

The whole inside/outside design makes it extra special and peaceful.

The nearby electronic Bell Tower is built from steel columns. Visitors can walk into it and look up to the sky.  The computerized chimes ring the hour with familiar tunes.

Brides and Grooms can select specific songs to be played as they exit the chapel.

Adding to the serenity of this place is a lumbering turtle: an example of the pace to enjoy all the beauty of nature.

“Be decisive.  The road of life is paved with flattened squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.”   unknown

Garvan Woodland Gardens

Garvan Woodland Gardens, outside of Hot Springs, is a 210 acre botanical garden.  The University of Arkansas owns the gardens for the purpose of education and research.

We visited in October, so chrysanthemums were prominent.   Yellow Cannas behind them are blooming, also.

At first, this bench tricks the eyes, but the back of the bench is actually a photograph.

Love how the sunlight makes the tops of this grass sparkle.

I think these are Azaleas, although it seems the wrong time of the year for the blooms.  It was still warm but shady in most parts of the gardens.

The peaceful, quiet spots are one of the attractions of these gardens.

More Azaleas?

On a weekday, we encountered very few people.  Except for all the paved paths, there is an allusion of being alone in remote woods.

American Beauty Berry has a few berries with a lone purple Plumbago flower.

Preparation for a Halloween event included several clusters of pumpkins and gourds.

Most of gardens consist of wooded areas.  There are a few open glades where sunlight  allows displays of shrubs and flowers.  A circle of Boxwood has a pot in the center to highlight purple and lime green potato vines.

Behind this grouping, metal butterflies look like they’re flying.  This was part of a partially set up exhibit.

One section shows off fairy or gnome houses.

Sorry for the bad photography conditions.  Strong sunlight shining into a shady area makes it difficult to get good pictures because the lighting is not the same in all of the picture.

Two workers in the background stopped to watch me take pictures.  Not sure if they were curious to see what I was photographing or just wanted a break.  We actually saw more workmen than visitors that day.

Garvan Gardens is a lovely place to take a slow walk and just enjoy a beautiful day.

“There are times in everyone’s life when something constructive is born out of adversity, when things seem so bad that you’ve got to grab your fate by the shoulders and shake it.”  Lee Iacocca

Hot Springs, AR

On our trip to Arkansas in October, we made a stop in Hot Springs.

From a high point, it’s easy to see that the town mostly occupies valleys between the hills or mountains

Hot Springs Mountain Tower is 216 ft tall and provides a 360 degree view of the area.  This tower opened in 1983.  Two other towers previously were installed there. In the 1800’s a 75 ft. wooden one was built, but struck by lightning in 1906 and burned down.

In 1906, the Rix Tower, a wireless telegraph tower was moved to the mountain.  It was constructed for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis. Just imagine  loading and moving the tower during that time frame.  It was taken down from Hot Springs Mountain in1975, due to instability.

The tower has an glass enclosed observation room with some historical exhibits.  Above that is an open air deck.

I should mention that there are stairs, which my husband climbed, and an elevator, which I used.  No need to be crazy.

Then we visited the Mid America Science Museum.  To greet visitors, an assortment of dinosaurs roar as people walk pass them.

There was a presentation on Tesla – nope, not the car.  But the man, Nikola Tesla, and some of his inventions.  He was a Croatian who immigrated to the US in 1884.

He worked for Thomas Edison, who by all accounts, tricked Tesla into improving Edison’s DC dynamos by promising him big money, which was never paid.  After working there for one year, Tesla left.

He was hired by Westinghouse, who gave him a lab and sponsored his launch of the first Alternating Current power grid in Boston.  Edison arranged for a New York murderer to be put to death using an AC powered electric chair to mock and ridicule Tesla.

That’s me with my nose to the globe, which caused the coil to spark towards me.  In the 1890s Tesla invented the Tesla Coil.  The Tesla coil produces high-voltage, low-current, high frequency alternating-current electricity.

Some of the other patents he received included electric oscillators, meters, improved lights, radio communication.

Together, Tesla and Westinghouse lit the 1891 in Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition and partnered with General Electric to install AC generators at Niagara  creating the first modern power station.

Several exhibits demonstrated Rube Goldberg type movements and reactions.

One of the things I enjoyed about these is how they reflect the time frame of the early 1900’s.

Outside was a rope trampoline about 14 ft. up in the air.

Also, rope bridges connected one area to another one.  They definitely wobbled and bounced like the more scary ones seen over raging rivers in movies.

But these are safe.  A fun place to explore and learn.

“The progressive development of man is vitally dependent on invention. It is the most important product of his creative brain.”   Nikola Tesla

Grand Old Ladies

Stately old houses have a unique charm.

This Queen Anne was part of a large estate built in the late 1800’s.

In 1926, it was sold for $7,000.  The original third floor tower with a finial was removed for safety reasons.

The woodwork throughout the house is stunning.

The magnificent parquet floors are in excellent condition.

Just look at the craftsmanship and challenging detail.

A large group of people were touring, so I couldn’t get many pictures inside this house.

This Queen Anne is a well-known landmark that sits on a hill beside a main highway at the edge of Weatherford.  Its location on a hill provided breezes that kept it cooler in the summer than most homes.  Five fireplaces kept it warm in the winter.

Detail woodwork added to the grandeur.  The house has ten bedrooms.  Originally, it had only one bathroom.

Many stained glass windows lets in some light without allowing the hot Texas sunlight inside.

I love old style stained glass – very nostalgic.

The house is currently a bed and breakfast.

The rooms are furnished with large scale beds.  Closet space has been turned into small bathrooms for each room.  One room has access to a hot tub in an enclosed area just outside the room.

A Greek Revival house build in 1890 suffered severe damage in a 2008 fire.  New owners restored the house with careful detail to keep its original style.

They made some concessions on material, covering the wraparound porch with this new, modern metal that is stronger and is fireproof.

These stained glass windows are hung as art pieces along with the old wooden panel.

Sorry for the blurry picture.

While doing renovation, this glass mirror was found under the house.  H. P. Newman company was founded in England in 1909 but the name was changed to Dorothy Perkins in 1919.  They specialize in women’s clothing and fashion.  The company was adept in changing styles in each decade and still manufactures women’s clothing.

The purses belonged to the homeowner’s aunt.

Cute way to utilize old family pictures.

This is the last of the Weatherford Christmas home tour.

Hope your Christmas is celebrated with friends and family and merry and bright.

“The reality is that old houses that were built a hundred years ago were built by actual craftsmen, people who were the best in the world at what they did. The little nuances in the woodwork, the framing of the doors, the built-in nooks, the windows—all had been done by smart, talented people …”  Joanna Gaines