Although I've spent most of my life in central Mississippi, I had never visited Mynelle Gardens in Jackson, until just recently.
I'm not sure why, in all those years, I never thought about going ... perhaps, I was too busy raising children ... but, whatever the reason, I am surely glad I took the time to go last week.
From the moment I entered the gardens, it was as if I stepped into another world, and I thought, "Oh, be still my heart!" A photographer's idea of Paradise lay before me — there were winding paths lined with lush flowers and plants, beautiful statuary and bronze works of art ... birds were singing, and towering trees were gently swaying in the cool April morning breeze. It just doesn't get much better than that, folks!
But before I take you down one of those winding paths, I'd like to tell you a little about Mynelle Gardens and its history.
Mynelle Gardens was created through the lifelong dedication of Mynelle Westbrook Hayward, a Jackson native of national reputation in flower arranging and gardening. Mrs. Hayward traveled extensively, gathering rare flowers and exotic plants, and gaining inspiration for her gardens located on seven acres near downtown Jackson.
In 1952, Mynelle and her husband Hal brought the gardens to life planting Azaleas, Camellias, flowering trees, and perennials. Distinct horticultural areas were developed and enhanced by bridges, fountains, and statuary. The gardens were open to the public in 1953, and were sold to the City of Jackson in 1973. Since then, they have been maintained by the City of Jackson, with the help of many devoted community volunteers.
To begin my tour of the gardens, I first stopped at the historic Westbrook House, a Mediterranean Revival style house, which was built by Mrs. Hayward's father in 1917.
Designed by Mississippi architect, N. W. Overstreet, the exterior of the house was completely restored in 1998. Future plans include complete restoration of the interior to its original design (you can click on the images, if you'd like to get a closer look).
All along the main path were smaller paths meandering through the garden, almost like a maze.
But it was a maze you wouldn't mind getting lost in (which I did a couple of times) ... because everywhere you look there are little, what I call "outdoor rooms," with benches and gazebos and swings beckoning you to "come sit a spell" and enjoy the peace, tranquility, and natural beauty of the garden.
Here are just a few of the plants and flowers that caught my eye ...
But the plants and flowers were not all there was to see. There were bridges reminiscent of Monet's paintings ...
And bronze statues worthy of fine art galleries, but breathtakingly beautiful in their natural surroundings.
This incredibly life-like sculpture was created by Cynthia Sparrenberger, and is called A Wing and a Prayer. It faces a large pond and fountain, and is probably one of the most photographed landmarks in the gardens.
The Butterfly Garden is home to this little Butterfly Cowboy sculpture, which was created by Dan Hill.
And in the heart of the garden is the Circle of Peace bronze of three children playing. The circle they form represents the "continuum of humanity," according to the sculptor, Mr. Gary Price.
These graceful herons make me think of the Garden of Eden, for some reason ...
I had fun capturing the reflections of the yellow Louisiana Irises at water's edge ...
To every thing there is a season, and the beautiful and carefully landscaped gardens change with the four seasons, as represented by these statues (you can click to enlarge them, if you'd like) ...
Come August, this lovely pond and fountain are going to be very tempting to visitors, I'm sure.
As I was leaving, I passed by a bed of purple pansies and noticed gravity-defying dewdrops sparkling like diamonds on the petals. I couldn't resist stopping to get a closer look through my lens.
I loved exploring Mrs. Hayward's beautiful gardens, and my only regret is missing the peak blooming season of the Azaleas by a week or so. I'll have to go back next Spring and capture it in all its glory when the Azaleas are in full bloom.
If you are planning a trip to the Jackson area, I hope you can take time to tour Ms. Mynelle's garden for yourself. I promise it will be a memorable experience. To read more about its history and visitor information, you can visit the website at Mynelle Gardens.