Meet Edgar Allan Poe in his Enchanted Garden

Posted on May 7, 2016 in Featured Tour Experience


Poe’s Enchanted Garden

    You’ve read the poems of Edgar Allan Poe, but have you ever walked through one? In Richmond you can, at the Edgar Allen Poe Museum and its lush Enchanted Garden.

   Poe was born in Boston and died in Baltimore, but he spent much of his life in Richmond and it was the city he considered his home. Richmond is proud to claim this master of the art of the English language and honored him with the opening of this museum in 1922. It contains one of the best collection of Poe artifacts and related objects housed in the oldest surviving building in Richmond.

   Out back is the Enchanted Garden, a favored spot for weddings as well as a summer weekly social known as “Unhappy Hour” in honor of the famously unhappy subject of the museum. Brickwork and garden structures are constructed from salvaged materials taken from buildings that Poe either lived in or worked in.

   If you are a Poe devotee, wander through the lovely garden, which dates to 1921, and see if your mind does not recall Poe’s work To One in Paradise:

Thou wast that all to me, love,
For which my soul did pine—
A green isle in the sea, love,
A fountain and a shrine,
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,
And all the flowers were mine.

   If it seems familiar consider yourself a true fan because in fact the garden was designed based on that poem. The garden itself is a “green isle” in the middle of which is a splashing fountain. At the back of the garden is a shrine – a pergola constructed from materials salvaged from the ruins of the building that once housed the offices of the Southern Literary Messenger, a publication that Poe edited for years in Richmond. Within the pergola is a bust of Poe that has on occasion been “purloined” only to be returned.

edgar-allan-poe-museum gardens

Edgar Allan Poe Shrine

   Most of the flowers, trees and shrubs in the Enchanted Garden were mentioned in Poe’s poems and short stories. Begonias, clematis, geraniums, hyacinths, hydrangeas, pansies, roses, violets and tulips are found throughout. The grass is lined with ivy said to have been started from a sprig taken from the grave of Poe’s mother who is buried nearby in St. John’s Churchyard. The exterior staircase is shrouded in jasmine. Enormous and ancient boxwoods line the garden along with dogwoods, camellias and a magnolia. Poe, who found peaceful moments in gardens, would have loved it.

   A tour of the Poe Museum and its Enchanted Garden is part of some of our Richmond itineraries such as our Working Among Flowers and Gardens, Ghosts, Stories and … Mushrooms packages. Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself with an eerie feeling. The spirit of our friend Mr. Poe may well visit the place, as tens of thousands others do each year. If so, he certainly lingers in the garden and recalls verses he wrote long ago about an ethereal light that shined –

Upon the upturned faces of a thousand 
Roses that grew in an enchanted garden
(To Helen, 1848)