“I have a secret garden, Where I can laugh and play. I have a secret garden, Often it's there I stay.” Excerpt from “Secret Garden,” by Catrin Hitchcock
The Great Front Lawn- As you drive from the main house, live oak trees covered with Spanish Moss, the Catalpa, Magnolia, Crepe Myrtle and Cedar trees stand as a framework to the entrance of Monmouth.
With redevelopment of roads in Natchez, the construction of John Quitman Boulevard now separates the property from its original entrance. If you look into the brush at the northwest corner of John Quitman Boulevard and Melrose Avenue, you can still see the formal brick columns announcing the original entrance to Monmouth.
The Courtyard- is always an abundance of annual plants and colors. Seasonal plants include ornamental peppers, pansies and snap dragons, vinca, marigolds and moss roses. Caladiums and impatiens are prolific at their season of blooming. The Courtyard is framed with Natchez white crape myrtles along the patio beds.
The Herb Garden- to the right and behind the Gift Shop is usually flourishing with fresh herbs for our kitchen and for mint used in our "signature drink" Mint Juleps. Confederate jasmine and boxwood surround the garden.
Approach the Lions Head Fountain on the upper terrace area where seasonal flowers are always in bloom. White Dogwood, Pecan trees and Jasmine along with Maidenhair Fern are abundant. If you look closely into the fountain, you will see blooming water lilies and an assortment of goldfish, and perhaps a frog or two, that reside here year round.
Continuing on the path to the right you will cross the fishing pond by the bridge to the Sanctuary, which is styled as a Palladian Temple.
The pond is stocked with fish and is home to the wild Monmouth ducks. These ducks are free to come and go and ducks will leave when they have found their partner in life. Do not be surprised to see a group of these ducks marching up to the Courtyard and spend a portion of their day frolicking and bathing in the egret fountain. The ducks have been known to stay and enjoy parties frequently held on the terrace. The ducks are fed by Monmouth's grounds crew and are partial to cracked corn. None of these ducks have, nor will they ever, find their way onto our menu in our Restaurant 1818.
Take note of the Cypress trees and Cypress "knees" found on the shallow side of the pond. The Resurrection fern can be spotted in the branches of the Oak trees. This fern gets its name because it can survive long periods of drought by curling up and appearing dead. When just a little water is present, this fern will uncurl and reopen, appearing to "resurrect.”
The fenced and gated Family Cemetery dates back to the Hankinson's era and the first burial plot for General Quitman. The General was finally put to rest in the City Cemetery in Natchez, Mississippi. If time allows, you should make a point of visiting this historical cemetery on the northern outskirts of Natchez.
In keeping with natural forestry, the "Larry Stewart Trail" was carved into the woods and is a pleasant walk. You may complete the trail or return on the path by the Pergola, one of several wedding locations at Monmouth.
The Rose Gardens are a flourish of hybrid roses featuring every color and bloom for eight months of the year. The Angel Statue overlooking the Rose Garden is one of fifteen Angel statues found in special hideaway places throughout the gardens.
The ground cover at the Pergola is always a mass of white seasonal flowers to enhance this picturesque wedding location. The Wisteria Arbor and Pergola are a mass of purple flowers in the Spring. Take note of the size of the vines as they climb up the arbor, an indication of over two decades of growth.
Continuing down the path, the wooded area has annual bulbs planted and this path will take you to the Garden Room, Monmouth's breakfast rooms and meeting site. Monmouth is an ideal location for weddings, retreats, business meetings and just about any other special event.
After your leisurely walk, don't forget to visit the Gift Shop or stop at the Front Desk and make dinner reservations at Monmouth's exquisite Restaurant 1818, one of the few remaining authentic antebellum dining experiences, in the Main House.