An Acadiana paradise: Rip Van Winkle Gardens

A popular spot to absorb the beauty of Louisiana nature is Jefferson Island. It sits on a mammoth salt dome, and is home to the Rip Van Winkle Gardens.

Right next to Lake Peigneur, the Rip Van Winkle Gardens is a horticultural sanctuary. It has interlocking smaller gardens, each with distinctive features. Strange flowers bloom, peacocks fly up trees they're just some of the things that make you feel like you're in another country.

Michael Richard owns the gardens and has worked here for more than 40 years.

“Right now we're entering the Japanese Tea Garden. It specializes in Japanese varieties of camellias. Built in 1974, its called the Camellia Pavilion. ” said Richard.

These flowers are exotic and unique.

“These are different types of mutations this one is a genetic mutation and this one is caused by virus.” said Richard.

The interwinding paths allow visitors to chose their own way around. You can find a variety of bamboo from all over the world. This thorny cactus like bush is known as Hercules Club. This temple is the spot where couples get married.

But perhaps the most famous place has to do with the infamous Pirate Jean Lafitte, and his buried treasure.

“Right where I'm standing in 1923, 3 boxes of buried treasure were discovered. Full of gold and silver coins. So now these two oak trees are forever known as the Lafitte oaks” said Richard.

You can look at some of those coins, while visiting the Jefferson House, an old plantation home that sits at the highest point on the island. Along the way you'll see some grand and ancient live oaks. This one stands out as the undisputed king. It's more than 350 years old, and gives a spectacular photo opportunity.

The Rip Van Winkle Gardens a mysterious place filled with eye opening wonders that will leave you coming back for more.

Michael Dupre

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