But the real thing about Houmas House--the magic of it--is in the gardens. The gardens weave an almost mystical spell, one that draws me into the midst of the vivid flowers and the gauzy veils of Spanish moss and makes me wish I had the time and the money to go there every single day. To stroll through those gardens is to be kissed on the forehead by Mother Nature and rocked gently in her arms. They are that soothing. If there are not fairies living there, then it must be true that fairies don't exist, because when I walk those paths, I can believe they do.
I'll give Mother Nature and God Himself plenty of credit for the awe-inspiring beauty of those gardens, but they didn't do it all by themselves. The head gardener, who has been at Houmas House for many, many years, is a wonderful artist who expresses his ideas through multiple painting techniques, various forms of sculpture, and, yes, plants and seeds and fertile soil. The 38 acres of the plantation grounds are his canvas.
My stepsister and I spoke with him on our recent visit. He let us wander through his studio to see the wide range of his inanimate creations (non-garden-variety art in more ways than one). Afterwards, when we asked him about his designs for the gardens, he said he approaches them the same way he does his other art forms: "I wake up every morning and ask myself what I feel like doing."
Take a little walk with me now, and I'll show you a few of the things he has felt like doing:
(I've kept these images small in hopes that they'll load faster for you, but please be sure to click on them and view the larger versions. I think you'll be glad you did.)
PS: A portrait of Houmas House's head gardener is the featured image on my photo blog today. Click here to check it out.