With few exceptions, the beautiful plantation homes in Southeast Louisiana that can now be viewed by the public were in various states of disrepair throughout the early parts of the 20th century. Thanks to wonderfully dedicated and caring individuals, these homes have been restored to their former glory and opened to the public for all to enjoy the beauty and experience the history of the antebellum South. Although the restoration efforts of these homes receive a great deal of attention, many people don’t realize that the gardens and grounds also undergo serious renovation when plantations are restored. One such plantation that has been restored in an especially remarkable manner is the lovely Houmas House Plantation. The plantation rests on the so-called Sugar Coast of the Mississippi River and was once the wealthiest plantation in the country, boasting a 300,000-acre property and 19 room mansion. Today, only twleve acres remain, but they have been turned into a series of stunning gardens, both old and new, offering a window to the past alongside a new vision for the future. When the current owner of Houmas House purchased the estate and began its restoration ten years ago he researched archives describing the gardens using newspaper articles going as far back as the 1870s. Combining the information with the help of artist and historian Jim Blanchard, he was able to recreated detailed plans for the home’s formal gardens. Of course, no historical record is complete, so there were holes that had to be filled in using Blanchard’s knowledge of typical plantation gardens from the area and time period along with inspiration from Houmas House’s head gardener, Craig Black. Black is also responsible for the modern gardens that can be found around the property as well. Any visitor to Houmas House Plantation and Gardens may be surprised to learn that these beautiful grounds, which include more than 300,000 plants which are changed out a minimum of three times annually to ensure the gardens are visitor-ready year round, are not completed. Kelly and Black have plans to eventually incorporate every species that can be found in Southeastern Louisiana into the gardens. Houmas House’s stunning grounds can be viewed at your leisure on both our Half Day EastBank Plantation Tour and our All Day Plantation Tour.
Revival in the Garden
May 10, 2013 | History