Walt's Look Around: Varina's Garden - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: Varina's Garden

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BILOXI, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is still rebuilding from Katrina in many respects. But at Beauvoir, they are building back even beyond what was here before. For example, a formal 19th century garden has been established at the old home, and should be a budding attraction for the gulf coast.  

Mississippi historical artist Jerry McWilliams is putting the finishing touches on a painting of Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis' last home. Here lately, the emphasis has turned to the grounds, and recreating something that was here when the Davis' family lived here but hasn't been here in a while, Varina Davis' formal garden.  

Bertram Hayes-Davis, Jefferson Davis' great-great grandson, who is the Director of Beauvoir, says the idea came from Varina Davis herself.  

"We went through all of Varina's letters many, many years ago and we found a drawing of Varina's garden that she actually hand drew on a letter in the 1880's," said Hayes-Davis. "And it depicts what it is that she had here. In other words she was one who loved roses. Briarfield she had roses, Montgomery she had roses, Richmond. And when she came to Beauvoir, she had Varina's garden. which was a rose garden with obviously vegetables and other plants associated with them. So it was a detailed hand drawing with her own words and a description of the actual plants that were here during her time."

 State archives and history resources, as well as the National Park Service, all helped in the research and design and execution of the garden to get it as close as it could be to what used to be here. The rose varieties are the modern descendents of the antique roses that Varina Davis would have had. The wooden towers are where the climbing roses will grow and cascade.

The garden was just planted about three months ago, but will be a showplace in no time. Bertram's wife, Carol has her eye on the future of this garden from the past.  

"I think we may have one of the few historical gardens of this time period and that's pretty exciting for us, just to be able to say this," said Carol. "These gardens now are very immature, but as they grow, it's going to give us the opportunity to do a lot of things such as weddings and I can see photography happening in this area as these gardens get to be larger and more beautiful."  

"A design from the past that will become a destination for future travelers to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, planted and growing on the grounds at Beauvoir in Biloxi.

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