BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A garden that once graced the grounds of Beauvoir will be springing back to life. On Thursday, Beauvoir held a groundbreaking for "Varina's Garden at Beauvoir." The project is considered the first comprehensive restoration of the historic garden since 1889.
Visitors returning to the grounds of Beauvoir this summer will see a vibrant transformation. Crews are preparing 8.5 acres surrounding Beauvoir House for a landscaping project that's about to come out of the ground.
"It is one-of-a-kind. I know of no other gardens in Mississippi that are going to be like this, and very few in the country," said Kenneth P'Pool of the Mississippi Department Archives & History. "There have been attempts to restore portions of it, but this is the first comprehensive effort."
The Varina Davis Garden Project will restore the historic garden created by Jefferson Davis' wife. Remnants of the old garden were wiped-out by Hurricane Katrina.
"It's going to be one of the most outstanding gardens in the south. We have actually replicated something from 1889, which is going to be distinctive, and unusual, and Varina had very good taste," said Bertram Hayes-Davis, the Davis' great-great grandson and Beauvoir's Executive Director.
The state Department of Archives and History recreated the garden by relying on documents, maps, photos, even letters Varina Davis wrote to her daughter.
"She described the work which she was doing, and even made sketches of the gardens," said P'Poole. "We were very fortunate that Mrs. Davis left a lot of good records about the work here in creating the garden."
Soon, several hundred plants, shrubs, and flowers will bloom, including vegetables and herbs, and common and exotic fruit trees. The star attraction will be a rose garden featuring 16 different varieties of Antique Roses. Beauvoir officials believe the Victorian-era garden will become a major tourist attraction.
"We're going to have one of the most unique destinations for people to come see a complete historic replication of 1889 in the country," said Hayes-Davis. "I can't wait. I wish it was tomorrow that they would be finished and we're so excited to get rid of the remnants of the devastation of Katrina and replace it with the beautification for the Gulf Coast."
The garden should be finished by June 30. The $300,000 project is being funded by the MS Department of Archives and History and the National Park Service.