In Case You’ve Forgotten, This Is How Summer Looks

So cold! I hope this is Old Man Winter’s last hurrah, his last 1-2 punch before he makes his retreat for another year. I could use a little reminder that spring is coming, soon to be followed by warm summer days. How about you?

Last May a friend who loves old homes as much as I do, took me on a wonderful tour of some of the beautiful historic homes in Louisiana. I took way too many pictures on that trip which is why in February 2015, I’m still sorting through them all. I can’t wait to take you inside Houmas House and I hope to do that very soon. But for today, in pure defiance of this bitter cold weather, we’ll enjoy summer again as we stroll through the beautiful gardens surrounding Houmas House Plantation.

On the day we visited, they were busy watering the grass. Remember green lawns? Can you hear the sound of the sprinkler as it sput, sput, sputters around watering the freshly mowed lawn?

Houmas House Plantation 3

 

The Live Oaks in front of Houmas House are beautiful and majestic. At one time there were 24 of them and Irishman, John Burnside who purchased the plantation in 1857 for  one million dollars, nicknamed them “The Gentlemen.” The name stuck and future generations referred to them that way, as well.

Sadly, many of the trees were cut down one hundred years later when the levees were built on the river and the road outside Houmas House was widened. At the Houmas House site online it’s described this way:

“But as the levee construction crews approached, their big saws brought Gentleman after Gentleman crashing to the ground. Up from the river toward the great house marched progress. The levee was raised, and the road was widened and paved.”

Houmas House Plantation 4

 

High on the balcony you can see one of the many tour groups visiting “The Sugar Palace” as Houmas House was known during its antebellum heydey. Let’s go up and take in the view of the surrounding lawn and gardens.

Houmas House Plantation 2

 

Notice how all the trees are leaning. I promise I hadn’t had one too many Mint Juleps in the Houmas House Restaurant prior to taking these pictures. The trees really do lean that way. I thought perhaps they leaned due to past hurricanes or the winds from the river but the story behind the leaning Gentlemen is much more mysterious than that.

Apparently, when the other Gentlemen were being felled to widen the road, 16 of the workmen schemed to make a profit by floating the huge trees down the river to be milled in New Orleans. The 16 “profiteers” literally sat on the backs of the trees as they floated down the river and in the end, every one of them died. There bodies were never recovered from the mighty Mississippi.

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Creepy, huh? But here’s the really scary part. The caretaker for the home was named Mr. Green. His wife got up one morning about a week after the last man had died and gone missing and she made her usual morning trip out to the outhouse. She returned scared out of her wits and completely hysterical. Overnight all the remaining Gentlemen” had bent over in a what’s described as a deformed, disfigured manner. The Houmas House site describes it this way:

“Literally overnight, the 8 remaining “Gentlemen,” which had maintained their stately symmetry through hurricanes, droughts, floods and seasons of sub-tropical pestilence, had re-shaped themselves into grotesque sculptures of grief and agony, heads bowed and limbs drooping like mourners at a funeral.”

The engineers working on the levee thought it was possibly due to a change in the water table or trauma from the equipment and trucks used during the road work and removal of the other trees. But the Greens and other local residents in the area felt the trees became disfigured when the wandering spirits of the 16 dead workmen came back during the night. Can you imagine awakening and find all 8 of the remaining trees leaning and “disfigured” as described by those who saw them.  That would be quite a shock, wouldn’t it? I know how shocking it is to wake up and find one tree leaning after a big storm…can’t imagine eight!

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The view to the right of the trees is truly beautiful.

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We can see a small portion of gardens down below. We’re going down there in just a moment for a much closer view. Houmas House’s gardens are some of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen surrounding an historic home.

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There’s the Garconniere. I wonder why they had all the shutters closed.

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Here’s how it looks with the shutters thrown back in this picture from the Houmas House website. Let’s go down and check out the gardens!

Dining in the Garden at Houmas Plantation_wm

 

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There are actually two beautiful houses on the plantation. Behind the mansion is the original home for the property. It’s a French Provincial house built by Maurice Conway and Alexander Latil who purchased the land from the Houmas Indians in the mid 1700’s.

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I’m going to hush for a bit now and just let you enjoy the garden as we did.

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Beautiful fence!Houmas House Plantation Gardens 09

 

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There’s a vegetable garden located right behind and to the side of Houmas House…let’s take a closer look.

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I loved seeing the vegetable gardens as much as the floral ones.

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I thought the wood structure was possibly for climbing beans and such, but I wonder what those window box things are on top. A watering system of sorts?

Houmas House Plantation Gardens 20

 

We can see the house from the garden.

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I love, love, love this view of the house. It feels like a real home in this view where people live and work (which it is since the owner does live there) and not just an historic home that’s open for tours.

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Is that an artichoke growing in the garden? I think it may be! First time I’ve seen them growing in a garden.

Artichoke in the Garden_wm

 

 

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Lots of pretty statuary in the garden…

Houmas House Garden Statuary

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Further away from the house we came upon a Japanese garden.

Houmas House Japanese Garden

 

Japanese Garden at Houmas House Plantation

 

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Love the waterfalls in the Japanese garden.

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A view of Houmas House in the evening from the Houmas House website.

Houmas Plantation House Lit up at Night

 

I love this view of Houmas House in the mist…so mysterious looking. Looking forward to taking you inside for a tour real soon!

Houmas House Plantation House in Mist

Photo from Houmas House Plantation and Garden Website

 

Tour some of the other beautiful historic homes we toured by clicking on any of the pictures below:

Oak Alley

Oak Alley

 

Laura Plantation

Laura Plantation, Vacherie Louisiana 2

 

Greenwood Plantation

Greenwood Plantation Greek Revival Home in St. Francisville, Louisiana

 

You can read more about Houmas House Plantation and Gardens at their website here: Houmas House Plantation and Gardens




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Comments

  1. Absolutely breathtaking! The gardens are so beautiful, so many beautiful photographs! Thank you for sharing them!

  2. Well, that was a nice way to thaw out after an hour of trekking through 10″ of snow in my neighborhood today…..I am very attracted to the Japanese garden plants and structure, and I agree with you, that side garden is beautiful. That archway – holy moly! Thanks for sharing, looking forward to seeing the inside of the house.
    Rita

  3. Beautiful tour! What a neat story to go with such amazing gardens. You are very lucky to tour such wonderful places. Thanks for the warm looking views on this cold snowy day.

  4. Susan,
    This is a very nice way to spend a very cold afternoon. There’s nothing thing better than looking at a beautiful garden in bloom, and trying to be patient for mine to awaken.
    A friend and I toured Oak Alley last May. It was beautiful inside and out. The oaks were fabulous, and we felt we were surrounded by history.
    I love going on your tours which makes me want to actually travel to those places, even the home and garden tours in your area!

    • Thanks, Pam! My daffodils are trying to come up. I bet they wish they had stayed down with the cold we’re having now. Oak Alley is wonderful…that long alley of oaks is breathtaking!

  5. Very pretty! Of course there is always some great mystery in Louisiana! Missing the green of Spring/Summer.

  6. Wow what a beautiful place Houmas House is. I so appreciate that “warm” reminder of what we have to look forward to, especially today when we have ice and snow all around. Yes that is artichoke growing in the veggie garden! I was blown away by the picture of the humongous arbor with the wisteria growing on it. What a picture that must make when in bloom! The flower boxes on the trellis in the veggie garden have me intrigued. Maybe they had them planted with sweet peas in the early spring and they flowed down the trellis instead of up? Vikki in VA

    • Is that what that was? I was hoping someone could identify what was growing on it. It must be a really strong arbor to support that much Wisteria. Oh, it would be magnificent in bloom! I added a better, bigger picture of the artichoke to the post…so fascinating to me to see one growing in a garden. 🙂

  7. Yes, I have forgotten. Thank you for this beautiful reminder! I was so annoyed by today’s snow that I packed away my plaid winter comforter and broke out my spring Rachel Ashwell one. Sure, I might freeze but it reminds me that warmer days are coming. =)

    Jeanine

  8. Oh my goodness. Thank you Susan. I enjoyed the beautiful lush green surroundings. I almost forgot I was in the heart of a bitter cold winter day outside. Thank you for the brief moment of splendor. So refreshing. Can’t wait to see the pictures of the glamorous inside.

  9. Ahh. Sweet summer. How I miss the garden and the flowers, and cooking outdoors. It won’t be long. Love the pretty pictures.

  10. bobbi duncan says:

    I could almost feel the warmth on my skin…don’t I just wish! We just had 5 more inches of snow dumped last night. It looked so pretty with the bright blue sky, but now I’m so ready for Spring. Thanks for the tour of these gorgeous properties. BTW, I’m glad you got your bed skirting made…looks lovely!

    • Bobbi, I know you guys are over it by now…ready to see the ground again. My birds are feeding like crazy these days at the feeder. They are ready for a break in the cold, too.

  11. What a terrific way to handle cold days. We have been blessed with very warm weather here, but I would never turn down a trip through a garden no matter the time of year.

  12. Okay I live in Connecticut where we had yet another snow storm this morning and they are telling us to expect another one this Thursday. I am tired of the SNOW. Thank you for sharing the green grass, flowers and leaves on the trees. I will truly appreciate them this spring. I think all this snow has finally convinced my hubby that it is time to move to a warmer climate. Thanks again.

  13. Spring wonderful spring, can’t wait, I live in New England where we to had more snow today, I heard Saturday we will have more? I think the snow will still be here in July.

  14. Beautiful home and gardens – thanks for sharing your trip with us. Interesting story about the trees.

  15. Susan ,you mentioned that one of the pics. of the house looked like some one really lived there and not just a tour house . Well the owner really does live there ,his bedroom is actually shown on the tour and we met him walking his dog in the gardens . I can not understand how that was not made known on your tour as it was greatly emphasized on ours, we were there last October , not this past one but the one before. Enjoyed your tour , brought back those wonderful memories. Thank you

    • Yep, I know he does live there, we saw his bedroom and office area while on the tour. And they did tell us he lives there. I just meant, that particular view really makes it feel like “home” to me…seeing it from the garden. It’s just such a different feel/view than seeing it from the front with a group of tourist on the balcony.

    • Deborah, I just added a little clarification to that sentence in the post so folks don’t get the wrong impression and think the owner doesn’t live there. 🙂

  16. **Sigh** I am so ready for Spring. So cold here in Pittsburgh – more snow is on the way today. And then the deep freeze. Well, it might be bone chilling cold outside, (I have no control over that), but inside Spring is in the air! I am shifting over décor from evergreens and pine cones to bunnies, tulips and hydrangeas. It is a slow process but in that way it feels even more like Spring! Thanks for the warm pics. Can’t wait to see the inside of that house!

  17. Thank you so much for the breath of spring on this cold day Susan. Your photographs of the gardens are just beautiful. The fuschia flowers near the vegetable garden look like Rose Campion. Do you remember if/what they were? I love them so much. Beautiful flowers against silvery green foliage. And super easy to grow.

    • I don’t remember now but it does kind of look like in the pictures. It has that same skinny branching look that Rose Campion does but the flower part doesn’t look quite right. I use to have some Rose Campion growing in my garden in the front yard. I had it both pink and white. I’m not sure I still have any, now.

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