Our week at the beach started out with a trip to Eden Gardens State Park in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. What a delightful park this is and what a wonderful morning we were able to spend walking around and exploring. The park includes 163 acres of land that were part of the Wesley Homestead. While the main attraction is probably the 1897 mansion, Chris and I found plenty to love as we walked the property.
A well laid out and marked trail around the property including a view of Tucker Bayou led us to view a lot of the beautiful plants and trees that are labeled on a map for easy identification. Amongst the long leaf pines and live oaks we found a great variety of beauty to take in on a crisp and sunny day.
The above signage tells a little bit of the story behind the Wesley family who owned this land. The lumber business was a good business to be in at this time and even though conservation efforts like we have today were not in place, somehow this area became a landmark and a beautiful spot to preserve.
Beautiful trees are everywhere on this property and some like the one above grow a little unconventionally.
This live oak, often called the Wedding Tree, graces the middle of the massive lawn and is the focal point.
Estimated to be 600 years old, this tree is magnificent.
One of my favorite things, along with the moss draping the trees, are the resurrection ferns that find life on the sprawling branches.
This unusual tree is actually two trees that grafted together and grew into one.
The park has an amazing azalea and Camilla bushes and some were in full bloom as you can see.
The house itself was lovely to tour and although no photography is allowed inside, you can imagine what it looked like.
William Henry Wesley, owner of the successful Wesley Lumber Company, built the house for his wife and family near the mill in 1897. They lived there until 1953 when his wife, Katie Strickland Wesley, died. The house was sold along with 10.5 acres. The house fell into disrepair and ten years later, Lois Mason purchased it and converted the Victorian style house into a more antebellum type of house to showcase her antiques and heirlooms. She created the ornamental gardens and sadly was never able to live in the house on a permanent basis as she fell ill. In 1968 she donated Eden Gardens to the State of Florida. What a gift.
The reflective pool and fountain were installed and are home to some koi although we could not see them.
If you are in the area and need a lovely and relaxing place to walk and take in some of God’s beauty you definitely need to check out Eden Gardens State Park. Admission currently is $4 per vehicle and $4 each for the house tour. The park is open from 8 am until sunset 365 days a year. he Wesley House is open for tours Thursday through Monday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. hourly and closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Location: 181 Eden Gardens Road, Santa Rosa Beach FL
For additional information check out their website here.