Living the Sweet – Eden Gardens

The stately Wesley House at the Eden Gardens.

Hey Sweet Lifers! Well, I spent most of the tail end of my summer and into fall stomping up and down the roads all along 30A in Florida. There are so many parks and unspoiled sea lines – it’s breathtaking. A peaceful and preserved place for every creature great and small to “live a sweet life.”

Florida surprised us as we were delighted with the tall pines reminding us of our North Carolina heritage and a sea that is as beautiful as we have ever dipped into.

One special place is a garden called Eden where publisher Lois Maxson purchased the garden in 1963 for around$12,500. It is beyond breathtaking and a place where you can almost see the grounds filled with ladies sipping lemonade and children playing all around. There’s the beautiful Wesley house, and there’s the 600-year- old wedding tree, which cannot be missed as she stretches herself sprawling leaving a path for squirrels to scamper and butterflies to meander in her dappled shade.

The gardens are surrounded by serene water.

Originally, the land was purchased by William Henry Wesley in the 1890s, and their home was the base for their lumber company from 1890 until after World War I. The property sits against the unspoiled Tucker Bayou on the southwest corner of Choctawhatchee Bay.

By the time Lois Maxson found and purchased the property, it had suffered several years of disrepair. She spent a million dollars in restoration of both the gardens and the house with 163 acres of majestic oaks and installed a looking glass pond. On Christmas Eve in 1968, Miss Maxson donated all of her estate to the state of Florida.

Eden’s 600-year-old wedding tree.

Brian and I spent an afternoon wandering through the gardens, and you could feel the spirits of those who had once escaped into her loving arms so long ago. We saw a raccoon walking about near Tucker Bayou. He nodded to us as if to say, “Have a wonderful day ma’am!” and went on about his business. We smelled sweet, delightful roses in the garden, and we stood under the moss-covered stately trees watching as the breeze swayed their hang.

Eden Gardens is a place where I envision myself setting up an easel and painting, dropping a pole and waiting for some supper to catch my hook, and of course, with yellow butterflies sprinting about, a place that I will write most likely many books God willing. It feels like home.

Take care of you, and stay “sweet!”