Sunday garden stroll in LSU’s Hammond Camellia forest -awesome

If you haven’t been to the LSU Hammond Research Station to see the Camellia collection in its full-blooming glory, you are sadly missing out on one of the best kept horticultural experiences in the state. You don’t have to be a plant lover to thoroughly enjoy this wonderful garden. See the fascinating article by Stephanie Bruno on the collection at the link (oh, and photos from yesterday) below.


my friend Charles Allen with Loblolly pine and old timey camellias.

click to enlarge of the photographs to check out the landscape of towering Loblolly pines and a zillion colors and shapes and sizes a la Camellia. Its a magical feeling walking through this garden. Charles Allen and family, etc met Candi and I there for a stroll through.


stately pines with an understory of hundreds of old flowery Camellia shrubs


I don’t know a single Camellia name was told this one is Rebel Yell, nice name. 🙂



and this one’s Carter’s Sunburst

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After the Camellia walk we took a side trip just a couple of miles away to Chapapeela Sports Park, off of Airport Road in Hammond. The gardens at the park are really robust and I consider them to be top notch and super diverse; very beautiful. The Little Bluestem there is thick (or “tick”, as they say down the bayou). These are the same gardens that provide a cool natural habitat that Dr. Bill Platt and his students with his Conservation Biology class use as an outdoor lab. It was the first time that I had had the pleasure of showing the gardens off to Dr Allen, who is a major mentor of mine and the person who, along with Dr. Vidrine and others, is the inspiration for my prairie landscape business. It was a great treat to show it off to him and to the others in attendance. whoop-whoop!! Go Micro-Prairies!!!

thanks to nasa and awesome technology, here are two google earth maps with locations of the Camellia garden and the prairie grass gardens. they’re self explanatory. You can go to these public spaces during daylight hours to visit. Go often.

Chapapeela and Hammond station map



EXTRA!    —–news flash!!  


prairie grass gardens


Awesome Native Grass gardens went in this weekend in Folsom, Louisiana at the guest house of a client. The client spread the garden areas out with herbicide during the summer a few times to reduce the likelyhood of perennial grass competition. I like this grass island concept but I would scratch the tree design I originally presented a year or so ago and do a Long Leaf pine meadow as a forty foot strip at the road edge to connect the south end of the property with the meadow on the north end of the property. The purpose is to build a baffle between the road and the house as natural baffle; a separation from the road creating a more intimate garden room. This would also allow for a much easier, less rigid management program for the the area, a softer touch.


Dallas Blue Switch grass. Its a pretty thing….


Tripsicum floridanum in foreground of this bed, with Muhlenbergia lindhiemeri in the rear. An island of Tripsicum dactyloides and Muhlenbergia capillaris to the left island and Dallas Blue Switch on the right. Lindhiemers Muhly is one of the top three grass plants for effect in Louisiana gardens, at least ornamentally speaking. A bad-ass grass.

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in a largest island garden, next to my truck, is a non-cultvar native Switch grass that fills the bed, with 5 Aralia spinosa, Devil’s Walking Stick, gracing a central area. Aralia spinosa’s a cool looking plant with pulpy berries that birds love and a flower head as big as a basketball. cool.





going, going, almost gone…

In October I made my regular visit to a meadow planting at Chappapeela Park, part of the recreation department in Hammond. Last year I had been hired to create a crazy-great diverse prairie savannah there and I’ve done maintenance since. I was done, in the truck, and about to make my way out of the property, when I saw in the distance what looked like a nice stand of Little Bluestem. I pulled over and got out to see if my eyes were working right and sure enough, I found what is a high-quality pine savannah relict. Its really nice (on a meadow-biodiversity scale of 1 to 10, I’ll give it a 9.7). I spent a good bit of time there, taking it all in, like breathing fresh air. Like stepping into a time machine, going back 200 years. It was a great little grassland parcel with a lot of substance but since I was on a schedule and had to run, I made my way back to the truck to go! I’ll come back Saturday morning and photograph it, I thought.

I got up early Saturday and drove to Chapapeela, pulled in, and immediately saw that it had been mowed. No big deal, right? I had already called and left a message with the Landscape Architect I worked with on the project and I told him that we should get together and try to get it preserved, maybe incorporate it into the already-existing walking-track that loops through the park. Not a word came as a response.

Today I pulled in and saw why.


Cool! You can buy an awesome prairie savannah! and whatever the price is, it’ll be dirt-cheap.

The City of Hammond should save this before its gone. The property next door has already been dozed and graded and is ready for a nice, new concrete slab and parking lot.

I have a feeling that another one will bite the proverbial dust.

...Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson