An avid gardener, Britt surrounded his home with ornamental shrubs and exotic trees, which he started planting in the 1850s. Among Britt's most unusual botanical specimens was an Abyssinian banana tree, which reportedly had to be dug up and taken indoors each winter. Rhododendrons, palms, cypress, and wisteria also graced the grounds. In 1862 Britt planted a giant sequoia redwood to honor the birth of his son Emil. Fieldstone steps and terrace walls, a bubbling fountain and goldfish-filled lily pond added a touch of romance to the park-like grounds. To keep his garden watered, Britt installed an innovative irrigation system fed by a mile-long ditch that ended in a system of underground pipes. Several out-buildings, including a carriage shed, water tower, dog house and winery, were located close by. In addition to the botanical gardens near his house, Britt encouraged the growth of a timber stand of Douglas fir that by 1894 was valued at nearly $5,000. This forest can be enjoyed today by strolling the Jacksonville Woodland Trails that meander through Britt's former estate.
PHOTO: SOHS 01641 Peter Britt and banana tree