At this stop, please take time to take a look at our Cleveland Oak. It was named for Grover Cleveland, President of the United States for two terms from 1885-1889 and again from 1893-1897. He was a close friend of the famous actor, Joe Jefferson, who owned nearby Jefferson Island; another extruded salt-dome formation. In about 1891, Cleveland came to Louisiana to stay with Jefferson and made a visit to Avery Island for lunch. Cleveland had two oaks named after him during that visit to Louisiana, one on Jefferson Island and this one on Avery Island. The story the McIlhenny family tells is that Grover Cleveland hugged the trees during his visit and so in his honor they were named after him. The Cleveland Oak of Avery Island is approximately 23 feet in circumference and over 300 years old.
Across the road from the Cleveland Oak, there are a few unique and unusual trees that are native to Chili, called Araucaria or Monkey Puzzle Trees. Their leaves are dark green and triangular, stiff, sharply pointed, and overlap each other. It has been said that the common name of the Monkey Puzzle Tree is the result of a comment made by an Englishman in the early 1800’s after he observed this well-armed tree. The Englishman said that it would be a puzzle for a monkey attempting to climb such a tree. Even though there are no monkeys in its native habitat, the comment somehow caught the public’s attention and became the tree’s common name.
The walking path beyond the Cleveland Oak leads to the Survey Tree where you can read more about the surveying of Avery Island in 1810. The Survey Tree is one of the oldest surviving corner or witness trees in Louisiana. Continue walking past the Survey tree on the walking path and it will lead you to our Asian inspired gardens created for an over 900 year old Buddha or continue driving through the Holly hedges and access Buddha’s garden through the red traditional archway or Torii Gate.