The Rosemont Garden

Well it is that time of year again. The days are getting longer and the weather is warming up, although, I am not sure that it ever got cold enough to call it winter. February decided that spring was coming early, but, early March had different plans. Anyways, one of the earliest signs of spring approaching are those beautiful daffodils, or as I call them, “buttercups”, that come shooting up everywhere that they have ever been planted. I always remember my mother saying how gorgeous they were every year when they would bloom. Then, all the other flowers and trees follow suit.
Spring is also the time of year to start gardening. Whether you are planting fruits and vegetables or flowers and shrubs it is always good to wait until that last frost hits. N ow gardening has evolved since the early 1800’s. As settlers moved west into Tennessee, gardens were planted close to the door, making it easy to protect, maintain and harvest. These gardens were not planted for beauty, but for survival. You would mostly find fruit trees, vegetables and herbs planted in the gardens. Flowers took a back seat to food and medicinal plants.
Things started to change during the mid-1800s. Produce markets began opening and this made it a bit easier to garden as a hobby and not out of necessity. Instead of planting fruits and vegetable gardens, ornamental gardens were becoming popular. Different garden plant varieties were becoming available and research was being done to fight pests and diseases.
Now when I think of an ornamental garden here in Sumner County the first one that comes to mind is Rose Mont. Rose Mont was built in the 1830’s by Josephus Conn Guild. Rose Mont’s façade features majestic white columns that connect the two-story veranda. The name Rose Mont stems from the once exquisite rose garden that was located on the north side of the home. The home is a blend of Greek Revival and Palladian design. What is now a bridal suite overlooks a smaller replication of the original rose garden.
The garden that you see today is one-fourth of the size of the original garden. Josephus Conn Guild’s wife, Catherine Montgomery Blakemore Guild was the caretaker of the garden. Josephus would regularly make trips to New Orleans and bring his wife different plants and flowers from the nurseries there.
The garden was a French parterre design. The garden had a geometric plan and symmetrical patterns. The garden was located to the north of the house. There were orchards on two sides with a gazebo in the center. The hilltop consisted of all roses. The garden also consisted of creeper shrubs, irises, crate myrtles, smoke fringe trees, and lily of the valley. The drive in had cedar trees, daffodils, and crate myrtles alongside.
Cass Guild Holly was one of the last members of the family to be born and live at Rose Mont. He knew as a child that gardens that were there were the remnants of the once much larger garden. He remembers the Easter egg hunts that once took place every year, with the most common hiding place being nestled up against those beautiful blooming buttercups.
By 2001 the garden no longer existed at all. That’s when Carolyn Mundy sprang into action. She recreated a smaller version of the original garden. She used the same parterre design as the original. The rosebushes she chose to plant were hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda. Boxwoods were also planted at four different points. It was also important to have an irrigation system in place as roses require an adamant amount of water. This allowed the roses to thrive. Now since then any rose bushes that have died have been replaced with knockout roses. Carolyn says, “the reason for this is because, knock out roses do not require any maintenance, just plant them and they will grow.”
Roses generally bloom from the first week in May through October. They do have a few enemies though. Japanese beetles have been in our area for twenty years now and love to devour roses. Liquid seven is a great way to kill those beetles. The beetles will disappear on their own by early August. Deer also love roses, and we know Sumner County is full of them. One tip from Carolyn is to always winterize your roses by putting peat on the bases of the rose bush after temperatures reach twenty-five degrees.
To learn more about Rose Mont be sure to swing by and take a tour. They re-open to the public April 15th. For more on Sumner County history come by the Sumner County Museum Tuesday thru Friday from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM. Group tours are available. Give us a call at 615.451.3738 to schedule a guided tour.

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