Elma Sue Mccallum | 7/20/2018 4:11:00 PM
Strolling through Windrush Gardens you will marvel at the majestic live oaks and ancient crape myrtles that create a shady canopy over the numerous azaleas and camellias. Only gardens like these, which are isolated from urban areas with connections to an earlier time and place, can evoke such a sense of tranquility, peace and yearning for a simpler, less hectic lifestyle.
The semiformal garden areas include symmetrically designed beds, allees, open lawns and water features. Steele Burden acquired a taste for sculpture and garden ornamentation on European tours, and he collected many pieces to adorn these gardens.The garden areas provide intimacy, with each "room" offering a different design expression.
Steele Burden filled the gardens with his favorite hardy plants, such as aspidistras, nandinas, crape myrtles, azaleas and camellias. Liriope and mondo grass edge the borders. The vigorous southern Indian hybrid azaleas were available by the mid-1800s, and he used them abundantly. For fragrance, he included banana shrubs, gardenias, sweet olives and butterfly gingers.
Even though there are flowering shrubs and trees in Windrush, Burden emphasized the "green garden," using the form and texture of plants, rather than flower color, to create the lush Louisiana landscape indicative of his style.
He used colored foliage to brighten dark areas, interspersing golden euonymus and gold dust aucuba among the azaleas.
The bright red berries and evergreen foliage of the hardy nandina made it one of his favorite plants. The canopies of mature oaks, pines and magnolias now tower over these garden spaces, giving protection from the sun and increasing the sense of enclosure.