St. Francisville — Lynn and Don Zeringue’s garden is anything but formal. A long gravel drive separates two distinct areas, with natural vegetation on the right and an assortment of beds and garden boxes on the left. The overall effect is a lush palette of color that runs throughout the Zeringue’s acre and a half lot on Lake Rosemound.
“When we moved here 28 years ago, this yard was nothing but pine trees and pine needles, and under that a lot of ivy, but it appealed to me,” said Lynn Zeringue, whose garden is one of four private gardens and several school gardens on the St. Francisville Spring Garden Stroll on April 30. Proceeds from the tour fund 4-H scholarships, school gardens and other community projects.
For Lynn Zeringue, it all started with a little bed of lettuce years ago, shortly after the couple moved from the Garden District in Baton Rouge to the St. Francisville area.
“At the time, there was no store close by where we could get fresh vegetables like we had in Baton Rouge,” she said.
So the Zeringues cleared a little area and began growing lettuce in a few raised beds Don Zeringue, an architect, built. The lettuce did so well that the Zeringues sold to Calandro’s what they didn’t use themselves.
Over time, the couple expanded its garden to cover most of the property with arbors, raised beds and garden beds filled with a variety of plants, including many seasonal blooming plants.
At the entrance to the yard is a tall arbor with antique roses, a bottle tree and several large bridal wreath plants, original to the property. Inside are beds of irises and agapanthus; a bed of day lilies; a bed with mainly yellow, white and blue blooming annuals; and a massive red loropetalum. Two original raised lettuce beds are now combined into one large bed planted with citrus.
“We were getting too much shade for tomatoes, so we decided to try the citrus,” Lynn Zeringue said.
A third original lettuce bed now has tender asparagus and lush mirliton vines. She continues to plant lettuce, as well as broccoli, okra and herbs, which she uses in her cooking.
“I tried kiwis, but they never would do,” she said. “The seed catalogs all say they can grow in Louisiana, but a friend told me everyone has trouble with kiwis in Louisiana. He said to get grapes. They do much better.”
Many of the Zeringues’ roses are in pots to make it harder for visiting deer to make a meal of them. Throughout the garden are plantings of rudbeckia for color and to discourage the deer.
“Rudbeckia is deerproof,” she said. “They bloom all summer through the fall.”
The battle with deer is constant, and the Zeringues are forever trying new tricks to keep them away. Hanging in the middle of one bed is a bar of soap.
“I heard they don’t like Cashmere Bouquet,” Lynn Zeringue said. “The deer haven’t come yet, but I may wake up one day and find everything gone.”
Many of the beds are double-planted.
“After the snapdragons play out, I have shasta daisies that will come up,” Lynn Zeringue said. “Poppies are coming up now by the foxglove.”
She likes to experiment with plants and varieties. She gave up on strawberries and filled the strawberry bed with herbs and lettuce and planted her old strawberry pot with violas.
Amid the plantings are several interesting focal areas including an arbor covered with blooming honeysuckle and a blooming plant nestled in the stump of a palm tree that died when the temperature dropped to the teens.
An old clawfoot bathtub from the couple’s camp is filled with plants in an assortment of colors. A comfortable seating area is situated around a fire pot in a trellised area overlooking the more naturally landscaped section of the yard.
Keeping up the garden is a huge project, especially when the seasons are changing.
“In the spring and fall, I can spend six to eight hours a day in the garden,” Lynn Zeringue said. “Sometimes I pray for a rainy day, so I can just stay in the house.”