A visit to The Oaks’ garden is a trip through
time. As you step through the front gate, you enter a late
Victorian garden, similar to the one pictured in the 1890s
photograph of the property. Follow the gravel pedestrian path
and see old roses climbing the front picket fence and native
perennials filling the planting beds. Victorian carpet beds
grace the front grass lawn. Diamond-shaped cypress trellises
adorn each end of the front gallery of the house. Morning
glories and four o’clocks twine about them in summer. Imagine
the vines curling around the graceful arches and a family member
sleeping in a hammock under the shade of the gallery.
|Plants from The Oaks Garden
An early family letter describes the oak trees in the front
and states they gave the house its name. Two of the original
oaks have been lost in recent years, but, in the late fall of
2006, a replacement for the one closest to the house was
planted. Heritage seedlings are maturing in the front yard near
The garden abounds with examples of flora common to the
mid-1800s. At that time, plant exploration was wildly popular,
and many plants from Asia and Europe had made their way to the
Deep South. At the Oaks, you’ll see the imported hydrangea,
sweet olive, althea, azalea, and crepe myrtle, as well as
natives such as cherry laurel, hackberry, and magnolia
grandiflora. Indigenous flowering plants provide seasonal color.
Look for violets, purple coneflower, rudbekia, obedient plant,
spiderwort, Joe Pye Weed, and goldenrod. Volunteers from
the Metro Master Gardeners, the Garden Club of Jackson, other
local garden clubs, and Boyd family members have generously
given of time, talents, plants, and money to help bring The
Oaks’ cultural landscape project to fruition.
A recent addition to the grounds is the camellia garden planted
with 19th-century varieties of camellia japonica. This garden
honors a granddaughter of James Hervey Boyd – Mary Nell Boyd
McIntyre (1903-2001), who made many visits to The Oaks. She
loved and cultivated camellias, the heart of the Southern
As you walk along the north side of The Oaks, you walk back in
time. Archaeological research indicates there originally was a
row garden in this part of the lot, and Metro Master Gardener
volunteers have planted a small kitchen garden where the Boyd
family grew their vegetables and herbs. A pawpaw tree is growing
on one side of the kitchen garden; fig trees, on the other side.
In the far northwest corner of the property, is the site of the
barn. The Boyd family undoubtedly had horses and perhaps a cow
and a mule. Of course, there would have been chickens and pigs
about the yard.
The area immediately behind the house was a work area from The
Oaks’ earliest time. Here you see the cistern, milk house, and
the location of the original detached kitchen and the privy
behind. Part of the area is paved with brick rubble to provide a
firm surface for the household work that was done there.
Farther to the south, the work area continues with a swept yard.
Activities in this area may have included making soap and using
it to do the laundry, chopping wood for cooking and heating,
slaughtering and butchering animals to feed the family,
preparing vegetables for cooking, and burning and burying of
At the present time, there are no clues to the use of the south
yard. Hopefully, further archaeological investigations will
provide us with information to guide our restoration and
interpretation of this area.