At the very back of their Glenmore Place property, Robert and Judith Levy found the unexpected beginnings of what would become their citrus orchard.
The previous owner had stored several citrus trees in plastic pots, planning to bring them to his duck camp on Pecan Island. He never got around to it.
“They were there so long that they were mature trees that had grown through the pots and rooted themselves,” Robert Levy said.
From that humble start, the Levys’ citrus orchard now fills the entire back of the property.
“My father always said, ‘If something is good, more is better,’” Robert Levy said with a smile.
The orchard contains at least 17 large trees, including satsumas, blood oranges, grapefruit, Louisiana naval oranges, kumquats, Meyer lemons and Louisiana sweets. The trees bear so much fruit that some years the Levys send full boxes to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.
“We might easily get 300 oranges from one tree,” said Robert Levy, who is retired from a family business in Shreveport. Judith Levy is a practicing psychologist.
Several large old live oaks dominate the front yard of the home that is screened from the street by a bank of azaleas interspersed with heirloom camellias.
“The camellias have flowers in all different colors that go across the front of the house and down the east side,” Judith Levy said.
Most of these mature shrubs were planted by the original owners, but the Levys replaced some of the old plants and defined the front beds to give the yard a more finished look.
Because the home’s lot is on a corner, the Levys were able to build their driveway from the side street without interfering with the screen of plants along the front of their property.
The driveway side is planted with sasanqua camellias, azaleas and gardenias in the area of three “mysterious” objects — two vents and a steel trap door from a 1950s bomb shelter built by the original owners. The Levys converted this relic of the Cold War into a wine cellar and a conversation piece.
The backyard is defined by a brick patio outlined by flower beds now filled with blooming sasanquas in shades of pink and red. Among the large shrubs are herbs and some small blooming plants.
Between the patio and lawn area and the small orchard is a garden house that’s now Robert Levy’s woodworking shop.
The east side of the backyard required major repairs after Hurricane Gustav, when a large limb took out two magnolia trees, the major trunk of a maple tree and all of the camellias on that side.
“We planted some Little Gem magnolias and replanted most of the bed,” Robert Levy said. Amazingly, the maple survived to give the yard a deep red color each fall.
Not long after they moved into the house, the Levys, both gourmet cooks, planted a small bay tree close to their kitchen so they would have bay leaves for seasoning.
“It kept getting knocked over,” said Robert Levy, who moved it near the citrus trees, where it now thrives.
“It took off,” he said with a laugh. “It’s so big that it would take a lot of cooking to use all the bay leaves now.”