Video: 150 year old Perennials! Sarah’s Garden at the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, Illinois

On one of my legendary Amtrak trips, I met my daughter Lisa in Bloomington, Illinois for a mother/daughter weekend.  Knowing how I love historic homes and gardens; Lisa took me for a tour of the David Davis Mansion.  David Davis was a lawyer, then a supreme court justice and senator from Illinois from 1862-1877.  He was also a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln.  After Lincoln’s death, his son, Robert Todd Lincoln consulted with Judge Davis and considered him to be a second father.  David and Sarah Davis purchased a tract of land in Bloomington, Illinois in 1843, 5 years after they arrived.  They named it Clover Lawn and it would be their home for 36 years.  Sarah had a succession of flower gardens and carefully transplanted her favorite plants from one to another.  Davis built this magnificent mansion in 1871-72.  The restoration of Sarah’s Garden began in 1990 with Scott Kunst, a historic landscape preservationist.  He did research, evaluated the garden and came to this conclusion: “The upper garden is a national treasure, a very rare and fragile artifact.  It has an unusual degree of documentation and an unusual amount of historic plant material saved.” This short video shows this wonderful garden and plants that are still alive 150 years later!  I was delighted to see a variety of peonies, a gas plant, honeysuckle tree, and a yellow rose and others that were originals to the garden!  What an encouraging thought to know that a perennial can live to be 150, and still going strong!

“All nature looks refreshed with the light shower of rain-and the roses will be more lovely than ever, I wish I could send you a basket full with the letter.”  Sarah to sister Fanny, June 1874.

“There is a wealth of flowers in the garden-now- and I should like you to bury your nose in a basket of my heliotrope.  The asters too are very pretty and you would enjoy a variety of colors-and some double.”  Sarah in a letter to her sister Fanny, August 1875.

If you are in the area, this is definitely worth visiting!  You can see more photos,  learn more about events, hours of operation, the Davis family and the mansion by doing an internet search. 

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