Weaving along the line of bluffs that served as a natural barrier to the Mississippi River floodplain, Highland Road will be the path to four gardens on the LSU Hilltop Arboretum’s spring garden tour, “Historical Highland Road Gardens” on Sunday, May 3.

Tours will run from 1-5 p.m. at the four garden sites in three subdivisions — Highland Ridge, Myrtle Hill and Knox Hill.

On tour will be the gardens of Charla and David Wade in Highland Ridge subdivision; Dr. Anthony and Susan Ioppolo in Myrtle Hill subdivision, and Belinda and Charles King and Sherryl and Bob Tucker, both in Knox Hill subdivision.

You can start the tour at any of the four gardens. Visit lsu.edu/hilltop for tickets and a tour map. The LSU Hilltop Arboretum, 11855 Highland Road, also will be open during tour hours for plant shopping.

On tour are:

Wade garden, 16612 Autumn Ridge Ave., Highland Ridge subdivision

The Wade home sits at the back of the subdivision with a unique elevation change undetectable from the street. From the front ridge, a 30-foot slope leads to the bottomland floodplain of Bayou Fountain.

Alongside the driveway, a 100-foot stream begins with a waterfall, flowing downstream to a koi pond at the bottom. In the shade garden under the deck at the rear of the home, ferns and hostas thrive. In their midst, a miniature train circles the garden, crossing two streams that flow into a pond. Bordering the shade garden are coral bark maple and bloodgood Japanese maple intermingled with parasols and a forest pansy redbud. The large drake elm offers nice shade to the deck.

At the infinity edge pool, a colorful display of tropical plants and small gardens encompass the pool house. Just outside the pergola, a sugar kettle water feature is hidden beneath the parasols, banana shrubs and pineapple guava. A variety of trees — including cypress, white oak, tulip poplar, nuttall oak, American sycamore and a rare ginkgo — are rooted on the hill. The outside stairs lead to an observation deck that provides an aerial view of all the gardens.

Ioppolo garden, 846 Myrtle Hill Drive, Myrtle Hill subdivision

Four acres of gardens and outdoor living spaces encompass the Ioppolo property. At the front of the house are two fountains, one of which is surrounded by a secluded rose garden. The rose garden leads to a small patio with another fountain emptying into a sugar kettle planted with water lilies.

Nearby is a three-quarter acre pond with a central fountain and patio for watching the fish — bass, bream, catfish and carp — eat the food thrown by the automatic feeder. The pond is surrounded by cypress trees and lush plantings.

Behind the house is the main patio which features a large bottlebrush tree and a koi pond, where some of the fish are more than 20 years old.

The patio also includes an outdoor kitchen, arbor and outdoor fireplace.

Near the pool is a small vegetable garden and a fruit orchard.

Scattered across the property are numerous trees including live oak, cypress, magnolia, vitex, Japanese tulip, river birch, redbud and Japanese maple. Azalea, ginger, camellia, hosta, fern, gardenia and lots of Louisiana annuals also flourish on the property.

King garden, 10245 Knox Hill Court, Knox Hill subdivision

In early spring, the pathway into the Kings’ old-fashioned southern garden is filled with blooming Japanese magnolia trees and crape myrtles, while sweet olives and orange blossoms lend their fragrance to the air.

In 1999, the couple’s yard was transformed from a sloping grassy backyard into a beautiful oasis.

The original landscape and pool designer/architect, Eduardo Jenkins, held on to the home’s original redwood octagonal deck and designed around it to create a series of waterfalls cascading into lagoon-style pools.

The caladium-lined pond adds to the calm and cools the vine-covered deck, creating an almost year-round refuge. An abundance of ginger, plumbago, split leaf philodendron, roses, agapanthus and a variety of ferns, cast irons and day lilies grow in the numerous beds providing fodder for beautiful arrangements.The couple also loves to use their outdoor spaces for entertaining.

“One of our most memorable was when my daughter graduated from LSU and we had a party that included a blues band set up on the pool deck, the adjoining stone deck made a great dance floor, bar set up on the northern deck between house and pond, and candlelit tables dotted the landscape on each of the round decks surrounding the pool. What a night!,” says Belinda King.

Tucker garden, 10229 Veranda Court, Knox Hill subdivision

The Tuckers built their house in 1987, planting numerous azaleas and trees to complement the lot and saving an old pecan tree from the original Knox estate. A pond in the back of the yard borders Bluebonnet Swamp.

“We have to deal with quite a bit of wildlife out of the swamp, including numerous desirable and undesirable critters,” Bob Tucker says.

They constructed gravel paths through their backyard, winding among numerous large George Tabor azaleas, dwarf azaleas and Indian hawthorns. Their plantings include river birches, Japanese magnolias, holly hedges and beds for a small raised vegetable garden, annuals and hydrangeas. The paths connect the pool area with a recently added outdoor cooking pavilion and the pond, where bald cypresses and dawn redwoods, which were acquired at the Hilltop Arboretum Plant Sale over 25 years ago, stand.