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Tour The Oaks 
The Oaks Gardens  

The Gardens

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.

The Oaks Garden
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 fence.

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 garden.

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 solid waste.

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.

823 North Jefferson Street  -  Mail PO Box 4240   -  Jackson, Mississippi  39296-4240  PH. 601.353.9339 Click for map