Rosedown Gardens


Historical Society


Nationally famous Rosedown gardens are outstanding examples of what unlimited time, wealth, labor, and horticultural knowledge combined with rich loessal soil and a happy climate could produce during the ante-bellum culture.

Begun in 1835 to complement his new home and please his young wife, the formal gardens originally contained only five acres of Daniel Turnbull's vast plantation. The gardens became the pride and joy of Martha Barrow Turnbull, and were greatly expanded under her care. After thirty years of recording daily experiments made with unlimited resources, her diaries dolefully record the disintegration of the gardens during the Civil War. "Cleaned up my yard entirely by my own hand, and now hauling manure and trash from Eliza's side," reads one entry.

Through years of poverty the gardens were somehow kept from complete degeneration, a tribute to the determination of slim Bowman sisters, grand-daughters of the Turnbulls.

A complete restoration begun in 1956 when the property was purchased by the late Catherine Fondren Underwood because of her desire to save a landmark and preserve one of the great gardens of the 19th century.

Description begins:

The white gateway reflects an age that couched functional purpose in classical design.

Statues of gods and goddesses of Cararra marble are mounted between the avenue oaks on pedestals of white-washed brick.

Five smaller statues form a semi-circle nearer house. The fat little Indian girl with her pet alligator represent Louisiana.

Three lath summerhouses stand along garden paths to combat the heat of a Southern day.

An old tool house contains a collection of worn and out-dated gardening equipment which gives insight into the labors of the past.

The Doctor's Office was originally the plantation office. The bell nearby called the slaves from cabin and cotton field.

The wagons and mules collars and harrows form the days of cotton are housed still in the old barn.

On the grounds are other original dependencies including the milk house, hot house, and kitchen with its herb garden.

The 28 acres of gardens included in the grounds today are maintained by an underground sprinkler and drainage system.

A 1930 WPA survey aided immeasurably in the location of paths, potting shed, conservatory, and greenhouse.

A modern greenhouse makes possible a propagation program which regenerates rare old-fashioned roses, hop gardenias, and hydrangeas from the original 19th C. stock.

 

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