June 25, 2016
Today we’re visiting Dunleith Historic Inn, one of the grand mansions in Natchez. What do you say we explore the grounds a bit? One of the interesting ideas I like are the huge baskets hanging from the live oaks. Have you ever seen a basket hanging from a 30-foot chain with mixtures of vinca, salvia and Swedish ivy hanging over the edges? Moving around back, we find the courtyard surrounded by the perimeter boxwood parterre and plantings featuring heritage type flowers. In the center, the multi-tiered fountain adds the soothing sound of moving water. And there is a working cistern holding rain water collected by the gutter system. The featured flowers are the old fashioned Zinnia elegans with their big pompom flowers. These zinnia feature long stems that are perfect for cutting and bringing inside to enjoy. The variety grown at Dunleith are Magellan with their enormous flower heads that don’t require staking. The planting mixtures resemble a colorful carnival. Mexican petunia is a perennial that forms colonies about three feet tall. The strong stems add a distinctly vertical aspect wherever it’s grown. The purple flowers are trumpet shaped about two inches in diameter and displayed at the tips of the stems and blooms like crazy during the heat of the summer and into the fall. Also on the grounds is a working greenhouse that dates back to the 1790s and is actually heated with a fireplace in the winter. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.