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.





Hammond Station worker-bees make good!

While we were enduring our three back-to-back polar vortexes, the worker-bees at The LSU  Hammond Research Station were indoors, being very productive.

I stopped by yesterday for the second time this week to get a further update on progress with prairie and savanna seed activities at the station. Tuesday I met with Dr. Yan Chen, Joey Quibideaux, and Gina Hebert. We talked some more about the seed inventory and we discussed specifics for the planting projects.

Yesterday I met with Gina again, and we finally got a chance to go into the lab where they are doing their first real experiment, sowing Cajun Prairie and Louisiana Long Leaf pine herbaceous savanna species in order to get a feel for seed viability.

That was more than great! I was so impressed with the effort they have made to clean the seed that I’ve provided for them. They have obviously been really busy and taking their work very seriously since they have bags and bags of the most beautifully clean wild-seed that I have seen.


Their refrigerator is full. We were searching for some seed that had been in unmarked bags, trying to ID the “ones that got away”. It is pretty tedious work collecting individual species a-la-wild-collect, so I missed marking a few bags. This(photo above) is one unmistakable species that was unmarked, Narrow-Leaf Bluestem (Schizachirium tenerum), one that holds so much promise for Gulf coastal horticulture: a beautiful, dwarf-sized native grass, much-needed in the ornamental nursery trade.


One of four or five cleaning stations in the labmanned by the seed cleaning crew. This is a mix of Little Bluestem and Virginia Bluestem collected for native grass demonstration plots.


Seed, some starting to germinate in agar.  (click photo to enlarge)


Cool stuff.


blazing stars, bottom left, and a couple of milkweeds #3 and #11

Next on the agenda is sowing seed in seed trays. They’ll also be doing some cold stratification on a good portion of seed and will eventually sow that into seed trays, as well. They’ve got some good plans and are making steady progress.

The intention is to grow the plants and will use them in demonstration beds for display and for future propagation purposes. Eventually, the seed from these plants will be offered to nurseries interested in growing some for commercial availability.

Special thanks goes to the worker-bees, Gina Hebert, Ashley Edwards, Richard Vander Muellen, JJ Gulley, Vincent Noil, Laura Giacone, and Master Gardener Voluneer, Carolyn DeRouen for their very productive work! But also, thanks, so much to Dr. Regina Bracey, Dr. Allen Owings, Dr. Yan Chen for their interest in working with these precious prairie plant species.

whooty hoot, ya’ll!!!