The LSU Hilltop Arboretum Fall Garden Stroll will take participants into the premier neighborhood of the Lake at White Oak Landing on Sunday, Nov. 22.
Four gardens will be open for touring in the private, wooded, nature-rich community of custom homes on acre lots.
The garden tour hosts are Virginia and Charles Yarbrough, 18626 Tranquility Court; Michael Ann and Grady Crawford, 19173 Hickory Bay Court; Vicki and Jay Brooks, 4756 Elm Shadow Drive; and Kim and Mark Morgan, 5016 Woodlake Drive, where refreshments will be served.
From 1-5 p.m. on tour day, a selection of plants will be for sale at the LSU Hilltop Arboretum, 11855 Highland Road.
The house is set back in the beech magnolia woods, extending via two peninsulas into the lower lake of the subdivision. It also enjoys access to adjacent subdivision common grounds, which visually extends the forest. After a few years, the couple purchased an adjacent lot to insure the forest environment remained intact, bringing the site to about three acres. Charles Yarbrough’s success with shade gardening grew, extending into the woods. He developed over the years a garden style similar to a Japanese stroll garden, where not all of the garden is seen in one view. Different paths lead to different vistas and various garden rooms. Charles Yarbrough designed and completed all of the garden’s construction projects — decks, bridges, arbors, gazebos, boardwalks — as well as the planting, terracing, path-building and stone work, with design ideas and extra hands from Virginia and children Julia, Marie and Nathan.
This garden has grown over the past 20 years to now resemble, its homeowners say, “a southern forest of sorts.”
Species on the property include red, black and white oak; magnolia; loblolly and shortleaf pine; water hickory and water elm, along with river birch, sycamore and yellow poplar. The front yard boasts a flowering pear tree that looks snow covered in the spring.
The house is situated on a lovely pond, with a gently sloping lawn down to the water. The trees provide a canopy over the grass and flower beds. Instead of cutting down trees to allow more sunlight, the Crawfords decided to make the most of their yard’s natural habitat.
“We do have to bring in top soil, and replant grass, but the trees and the ground cover we now have make a lovely view with all the natural beauty of native Louisiana plants,” the homeowners say.
Birds, squirrels, raccoons, possums, fox and deer can be found on the property.
The Brooks’ home is set under the canopies of majestic oaks, elms and pines blanketed by Christmas berry and cast iron plants beneath. With input from their son, Josh, a landscape architect with Design Workshop in Denver and former LSU Hilltop Arboretum intern, the Newton Landscape Group created a master plan for the property that ties the home to its surroundings and creates more usable outdoor space.
Alongside the driveway a sweeping curvilinear bed incorporates an oak, a Chinese fringe tree, azaleas, indigo and native plants of palmettos and wood ferns. A French Quarter-style lamppost lights the paved walkway to brick steps that expand the full length of the columned porch. Fern-draped urns flank the entryway, while rocking chairs and an antique church pew give the house an inviting Southern charm. Chinese fringe trees and giant elephant ear are at each side of the porch, and two large stone containers and hanging baskets bring in seasonal colors.
A winding path leads to an expansive backyard encircled by a deep woods setting. Sweet bay magnolias line the brick and peacock paver pool decking on one side of the home and wraps around the master suite on the other side.
After years in their home, the Morgans did an extensive renovation in 2010, which altered the rear footprint of their home and called for a backyard reno, too. With the help of Smith and Baker Landscape Architects, the yard came to include multi-level patios of bluestone and wood decking perfect for entertaining.
The patios are surrounded by brick planters, and planting beds hold an abundance of Shi Shi Gashira and Yuletide camellias, gardenia, Red Ruffles azalea, blue agapanthus, a variety of hydrangea and abundant variegated flax lilies. Sweet bay magnolia and Japanese maple trees provide vertical interest to the beds, and numerous pots and urns placed around the deck and patios provide seasonal color.
On the lower deck, which provides gorgeous views of the walking trails and lake, is an outdoor kitchen and living space with a large water feature adorned with custom ironwork. A hammock, once belonging to Kim Morgan’s dad, hangs in a shaded spot for relaxing and reading. Landscape lighting provides the perfect ambiance to enjoy the spaces after dark.
The front gardens also got a recent update, with boxwood hedges creating symmetry and formality to the front entrance’s seasonal color beds.