Some of our best gardening and landscaping suggestions come from the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Center, 21549 Old Covington Highway.

One-hundred-year-old pine trees tower over the research center in woods about six miles from the city of Hammond. Visitors are welcome Monday through Friday. Groups must call (985) 543-4125 to plan a visit.

Established in 1922 as the Fruit and Truck Experiment Station, the center has traditionally served the strawberry and vegetable industries. Today’s research focus is landscape horticulture, including plant selection, fertility, weed control and plant growth regulators. Scientists evaluate more than 500 ornamental plants per year and each spring and fall release a list of Super Plants that grow well in all parts of Louisiana.

The center’s recommendations for fall color in the landscape include the Chinese pistachio tree (Pistachia chinensis) and the October Magic Inspiration Camellia sasanqua.

Look for other new camellias in the Southern Living Plant Collection which include October Magic Orchid, October Magic Snow, Pink Stella, Jessica’s Ruffles, Alabama Beauty, Bella Rouge and Diana.

For more information on the Hammond Research Center, visit

Ed Cullen

Advocate staff writer