Beauvoir gives visitors a look at Varina's Garden

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - There's a new attraction at Beauvoir that's been years in the making. The re-creation of Varina's Garden is now open for visitors. On Thursday morning, Beauvoir hosted a special tour and dedication of the garden project.

"Varina was very proud of her grounds and we took a lot of effort, time, money to get this to where it is today," said Bertram Hayes-Davis, as he welcomed his visitors.

The great-great grandson of Jefferson Davis let invited guests enjoy a "sneak peek" stroll through the garden. Since no known photographs of the original exist, experts relied on historic documents. The most critical was a sketch of the garden that Varina Davis included in a letter to her daughter, Winnie.

"Really is the single most conclusive piece of evidence that we have as to the size of the garden, the layout of the garden, its axial alignment with the main house," said landscape architect Brad Tackett.

The garden itself is roughly two acres with 4,500 plants. One focus is antique roses.

"They're wonderful roses. They're not as fussy as the hybrid tea roses a lot of people love. They're incredibly beautiful. They have a great fragrance. And Varina talked about the fragrance of the roses, even when she moved here," said Liz Barber, a master gardener who helped give visitors a tour of the grounds.

Vertical arbors fashioned from wooden branches are a unique element of the landscape.  Fruit trees are also a part of the garden.

"As many satsumas on the property as possible. Because they were written about and talked about so much. People described the orange blossoms and how wonderful they smelled," said Barber.

"It's fabulous. I saw it the day they broke ground and simply cannot believe that they've accomplished all this in such a short period of time," said Melanie Clark.

"I love it. I'm a gardener at heart and garden all the time. I love this. It's beautiful. I was here for Christmas at Beauvoir and this is just wonderful, the garden," said Linda Schonewitz.

The actual planting began at the end of March and was finished by the first of June.

The planting of the garden required 850 bales of pine straw.  It also includes 600 cubic yards of top soil, which amounts to 25 semi trucks loaded with dirt.

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