Gaineswood preparing for A Day in the Garden

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 27, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-Officials at Gaineswood have kept busy during the spring months preparing Gaineswood Mansion for the June 2 Day in the Garden. The program will take place from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. and will focus on heritage plants at the mansion with Jason Powell, from Petals from the Past, presenting a program.

A guided tour of the grounds will follow along with a discussion of the changes planned for the landscape.

Matt Hartzell, historic site director, said they plan to set up the drawing room of the mansion to accommodate the guests.

“We will take all the furniture out of there and set up about 30 or 35 chairs,” Hartzell said. “We’ll have a slide presentation Jason will do which will preview the afternoon and we’ll talk about the plants. That will all start at 4 p.m.”

Those who attend the meeting and tour will also receive a special treat. Hartzell said they plan to raise the windows like they would have in the early 19th century.

“One of the neat things about this tour is we are going to take the storm windows off and open the shutters,” Hartzell said. “We don’t do that very often. We are going to slide the doors and lift the windows up just like they did back in 1816.”

Following the slide show guests will be invited to step onto the front porch and enjoy lemonade. They will also be told about the improvements to the mansion and landscape.

While many new plants are coming in, Hartzell asked people to keep in mind they are doing nothing to harm the authenticity of the mansion. He said they were simply making the grounds as attractive as they had been in the past.

“One of the things I would like to stress about the changes is that we are primarily supplementing the grounds,” Hartzell said. “We are not tearing anything down or pulling anything up. We are basically enhancing the appearance of the grounds with additional plants at this point.”

In fact, some of the changes coming to the landscape are not changes at all. Hartzell said some of the plans include reestablishing additions that have strayed from the grounds.

“One thing we want to try to reestablish in the future is a lovers lane,” Hartzell said. “It was a twin row of crape myrtles. There was an alley that extended from the bay window in the general direction of the gazebo. We want to reestablish that.”

Naturally, before any new work is done archeological work is done.

The work has been possible in large part because of public support. Hartzell said a recent fundraiser had done wonders for the improvements.

“I would like to acknowledge the support we got from the community for the fundraiser that we did with the Marengo County Historical Society,” Hartzell said. “Kirk Brooker and I sent out some letters to about 50 different businesses and organizations in town. We raised over $4,000. Our goal was $4,000 and we exceeded that.”

Hartzell said they mansion and historical society split the money and used their funds to plant lady banks. It costs roughly $200 to plant them making the fundraiser all the more important.

Next Thursday’s tour will be free to the public. For more information please call 334-289-4846 or email mhartzell@preserveala.org.