The LSU Hilltop Arboretum will hold its fall garden tour “Eclectic Fall Gardens in Old Baton Rouge” on Sunday, Oct. 26.
Take a garden stroll between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. through seven gardens in the Southdowns, Old Goodwood and Afton neighborhoods in the heart of Baton Rouge. The tour includes a variety of garden spaces and styles including one christened “Heaven on Hyacinth,” a cozy courtyard with pass-along plants from gardening friends, a secret garden, a textural garden with an orderly but diverse mix of native and tropical sun-loving plants, a home and office garden with cottage garden spaces and a secluded pool with a tropical landscape, a formal garden with a magnificent registered century live oak and a truly grand garden with a historical connection to artist Conrad Albrizio only a block from the hustle and bustle of restaurants and shopping centers.
The garden tour hosts are:
Bertha and Travis Taylor, 3865 Hyacinth Ave.,
Betty Whitt, 6593 Goodwood Ave.
Dr. Richard and Judi Atkins home, 7070 Goodwood Ave., and office, 7059 Jefferson Highway
Susan Hamilton, 7722 Sevenoaks Ave.
Drs. Judy and Kirk Patrick, 1923 Old Carriage Lane
Cynthia and John Graves, 1933 Old Carriage Lane
Tour tickets are $20 and available at the LSU Hilltop Arboretum, 11855 Highland Road, or lsu.edu/hilltop or at each garden on the day of the tour. For students with ID, tickets are $5. You can start the tour at any of the gardens. A tour map is available at the website. Plants will be for sale at the Arboretum from 1-5 p.m. on tour day.
The Taylors say their garden was christened “Heaven on Hyacinth” by a dear friend and neighbor and it has also been called “Hummingbird Cottage.”
“We are passionate gardeners and avid collectors. Our garden design is best described as a series of ‘cottage garden vignettes,’ each with a variety of tropical plants, natives, annuals, perennials and garden accents. A magnificent Southern live oak anchors the front yard encompassed in a bed with a holly tree, crape myrtle, azaleas, hydrangeas and camellias,” the couple says. “A kitchen herb garden is right outside the kitchen door as we love to cook and enjoy creating dishes and using fresh herbs. Flower beds with roses, lilies and citrus trees, and garden accents of old iron gates, birdhouses and fountains are design elements that reflect a blending of our different cultural backgrounds.”
The backyard “garden vignettes” include an English garden, parrot room, Taylor vineyard planted with Concord and Riesling grapes, and a chicken yard situated under an old fig tree given to the couple by his parents years ago. A large plantation sugar kettle has been transformed into a fountain with water plants and goldfish creating a lush relaxing environment. A variety of wildlife calls the garden home,
When a small sliver of an existing lot in Old Goodwood became available for sale, Whitt says it was her opportunity to design and build a new home. The landscape already had great structural plants including two gorgeous live oak trees, a Japanese maple, mature camellias and a beautifully designed front yard.
“Since so many Louisiana plants were already in place, to continue with natives made sense,” Whitt says. “Pass-along plants from gardening friends and Hilltop finds along with hydrangea, sago palms, crape myrtles, toad lilies, angel trumpet and ligularia greet you in the courtyard. A walking path along the side yard takes you to the secret garden in the back where shady places to sit and relax or sunny spots when the weather cooperates, are great gathering spaces for friends to enjoy.”
Atkins home & office
“In 2003, we began a total transformation of our Goodwood Avenue home with the goal of creating a cozy and inviting place to entertain family and friends,” the couple says. “While it’s still very much a work in progress, much has been done to enhance our home and the garden. Using stone, brick and other salvaged materials from the Double E Ranch, we created a secluded outdoor room that includes a courtyard, pool with tropical plantings for color and texture and outdoor kitchen on the east side of the property. The landscape design maintains the subtle ‘cottage’ appearance we love, and is a good example of how we like to combine elements of hardscape, stone and plants in creative ways.”
Only a few blocks away, Richard Atkins’s dental office has undergone a similar transformation. Collaborating with Robert Seidenglanz, the design for the front and rear courtyards are inviting as well as soothing for clients who enjoy beautiful views of the garden through the office windows. The arbor in the front courtyard was made from a sinker cypress log given to the couple by a dear friend.
“Six years after re-constructing my garden from the ground up after Gustav, it is finally coming into its own,” Hamilton says. “No longer the tangle of tropical shade plants that once threatened to overtake my space on Sevenoaks Avenue, the garden now consists of a somewhat orderly but diverse mix of native and tropical sun-loving shrubs, trees, perennials, fruit trees and vegetables. The berries of native hollies, flowers of colorful perennials and many small trees and shrubs provide habitat and food for birds and butterflies. A screened-in cabin overlooking a small pond is my favorite spot to relax and watch the wildlife. My raised stone vegetable garden is dominated by three agaves, with a few vegetables and herbs thrown in for good measure. The stone path leading to the vegetable beds ends in a hand-constructed fire pit that is in the process of being converted to a fountain. This past spring I added a glass fire-pit on my patio which will be a favorite gathering spot when winter comes.”
“Although our garden has been on tour before many years ago, those who have seen it will see many new things,” the couple says. “The formal front garden, designed by landscape architect Rene Fransen in 1998, has been replanted next to the house. The adjacent rose garden is gradually being completely planted in Perle d’Or’ (Pearl of Gold) a highly regarded old garden rose bred by Joseph Rambaux (France, 1875), and introduced in France by Francis Dubreuil in 1884. The dainty little blossom from nearly orange to golden pink has a powerful perfume that can scent an entire room. The foliage is a soft apple green, healthy and full on a plant that is seldom out of bloom.”
The main feature of the back garden is a registered century live oak, which reaches into every corner of the yard, underplanted with a lush carpet of monkey grass. In addition to the two main garden areas are the secret spirit garden, the herb garden, the new side courtyard, the greenhouse and storage shed and the hospital/holding area.
“Our story at 1933 Old Carriage Lane began 30 years ago with the purchase of an older A. Hays Town home, complete with a horse stable, swimming pool, barn, cabin and two-story artist studio, in the center of Baton Rouge,” the couple says. “After two years of clearing the over-grown property and redesigning the home to accommodate the needs for a family of seven, Cynthia Cash was contacted to provide an overall landscape plan. Our oldest son, Kurt, then in medical school, meticulously implemented garden by garden, year after year, as a means of offsetting his school expenses.”
Time passed and the acre-and-a-third property originally filled with oaks, elms, hackberries and crape myrtles saw a decline in the trees due to lightning strikes, hurricanes and age.
In 2012, the Newton Landscape Group designed and implemented a plan incorporating the recently constructed New Orleans-style courtyard, fountain, outdoor fireplace and kitchen and pigeonnier, with lovely walk ways, herb and citrus gardens, sugar kettles and a new water feature. A picket fence, covered with climbing roses, encloses the cypress cabin — brought from Huey Long’s Winnfield property in the 1940s — to serve as the gardener’s cottage for a former property owner of the time, artist Conrad Albrizio. St. Joseph, spider, crinum and agapanthus lilies under tall pine trees surround the pigeonnier. An abundance of azaleas, camellia sasanquas, palms, crape myrtles, ferns, hydrangeas and mondo grass, combine old and new plantings to fill the gardens.