A Day in the Fields and in the Gardens

Today’s touring started out at the Belle Meade Plantation. This was a very interesting visit, especially with the ability to compare and contrast it to Carnton Planatation yesterday. All plantations are not created equal! Belle Meade Plantation was started by John Harding around 1807, and then passed on to his son CSA Gen. W.G. Harding, and later to CSA Gen. W.H Jackson. Whereas Carnton specialized in raising pigs and other stock (Tennesse was not home to King Cotton), Belle Meade was known for their horses. In particular, there were two famous horses: Bonnie Scotland, who was in the sire line for most famous thoroughbred horses today including Seabiscuit and Seattle Slew, as well as Barbaro, and Iroguois, the first American horse to win the English Darby. So Belle Meade was a wealthier plantation, and it showed in the layout of the main house and the furnishings. They were also decorated for different periods: Belle Meade was decorated for the Jackson period, around 1880; Carnton was decorated for the Civil War period, about 1860. What a difference 20-30 years makes in the styles. In short, we felt that both plantations were worth seeing.

After the plantation visit, we had a yummy lunch at Martha’s at the Plantation, the restaurant at the Belle Meade. Very, very good.

After Belle Meade, we next went to Cheekwood Art Gardens. This is an over 55 acre property once owned by Leslie Cheek, who made his fortune through Maxwell House Coffee. Unlike the Huntington, the Cheekwood features a large expanse of open fields, wooded areas, and small gardens, and a few buildings with specialized exhibits. Outdoors, the main exhibit was an installation called “Once Upon A Garden“. This exhibit featured “fairy tale” themes installations that whimsically told their various stories. We had quite a bit of fun walking around those. gf_guruilla, however, enjoyed the Faberge exhibit even more, and those items were extremely beautiful.

I should note that driving to Belle Meade we saw our first actual synagogues since we got to Nashville. West End Synagogue, which is the local Conservative syngague, and The Temple, also known as Congregation Ohabai Sholom, which was the first Reform synagogue in Nashville… and one that the Weinbaum family was extremely involved in during its formative days.

Tonight, we’ll probably hit Shoney’s for dinner. After all, we are in the south. Tomorrow, it is off to The Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson. In the evening, we’ll likely pack, for Thursday it is off to Memphis TN!