ST. FRANCISVLLE — Where others might see problems, LaDonna and Roy Landry saw opportunity in the hills and valleys of their West Feliciana property. They have created a backyard paradise, and they did almost all the work themselves.
The Landrys designed and built their home and then created one of the town's nicest downtown gardens, which will be among five on the Spring Garden Tour on April 27 hosted by the Feliciana Horticulture Society.
"We cleared the property by hand so we would know what we had," LaDonna Landry said. "We wanted to save some of the smaller trees."
The Landrys took advantage of the topography of their 1-acre lot, which is divided into two main parts — the more formal, planned garden nearest the house and a completely natural area in one of the deep ridges found throughout the area. Their ridge, a steep drop from the rest of the yard, is part of a dry creek bed filled with all sorts of native plants including red bud, forsythia and a stand of native irises.
"Now I don't even go down there to plant them," LaDonna Landry said. "I just throw the bulbs down the hill, and they take off from there."
The more formal part of the yard is laid out in beds with a long brick-lined one along the right side of the property.
"I knew I wanted river birches, azaleas and spirea — things that are low maintenance — in that part of the garden," she said.
A collection of birdhouses decorates the wood fence that separates the Landrys' property from their neighbor on the right, and a stand of satsuma trees filled with fragrant blossoms shields the driveway area.
Separating the more formal part of the garden from the drop to the ridge is a rock garden patio, which Roy Landry made with stones of assorted sizes. This garden is delineated by a small wrought-iron fence, one of several architectural elements used throughout the yard.
In the open area at the center of the yard are three round beds circling six tall oak trees that were on the property when the Landrys built their home 15 years ago. The middle bed is planted with bulbs and has a traditional white wrought iron bench, chair and table.
The left side of the yard is filled with daylilies, many from Leroy Landry, Roy Landry's father.
"He was big into daylilies," LaDonna Landry said. "The ones we have from him are all award-winning."
As a result of this collection, the Landry garden has been recognized by the American Daylily Society as a Display Garden. To achieve this designation, all the daylilies in the garden must be tagged with the name of the variety of plant.
Throughout the garden are sculptures and other garden ornaments carefully selected by the couple.
"We don't just put things in," LaDonna Landry said. "It has to be something we both like."
There are life-sized statues, a metal Eiffel Tower planted with roses and petunias and an antique sugar kettle where Roy Landry built a fountain. A blooming clematis, a stand of red amaryllis, camellias and numerous other plants selected and cared for by LaDonna Landry add spring color to the yard.
As with all gardens, the Landrys' garden is a "work in progress."
They are planning now to brick their concrete patio and build a pergola over stone columns that are already in place.
"We are always doing something," LaDonna Landry said. "We are never finished."
St. Francisville Spring Garden Tour
A self-guided tour of special West Feliciana Parish gardens hosted by the homeowners and the Feliciana Horticulture Society benefiting 4-H scholarships, school gardens and other community projects.
WHEN: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27
TICKETS: $20, cash or check, available on tour day at the St. Francisville Town Hall, 11936 Ferdinand St., St. Francisville
INFORMATION: West Feliciana Parish LSU AgCenter, (225) 635-3614