Fall Garden Trip
The Art of Nature Abounds In Louisiana’s Northshore
Members: $135 / Non-Members: $170 (Includes Annual Membership)
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
7:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
The Louisiana Northshore is a beautiful place to visit, with a rich culture and community of artist, incredible food, scenic rivers, and the home of extraordinary gardeners. Our first stop of the day will be in the quaint town of Covington. With help from our friend Johnny Mayronne, a noted landscape architect and one of Louisiana’s foremost native plant experts, Hilltop trippers will have a special opportunity to visit the extraordinary garden of Charlotte and Jean Seidenberg and the garden spaces of the Southern Hotel.
Charlotte (the gardener) and Jean (the artist) live in an idyllic country setting surrounded by a native woodland garden filled with blooming flowers, colorful butterflies and Jean’s splendid sculptures. Their unique contemporary house is nestled among tall trees, perched over a wetland that descends through an adjoining woodland property to the Tchefuncte River. The almost acre of land was once part of the extensive Bechtel family estate. It is a peaceful and quiet landscape where Jean paints, draws, and sculpts, and Charlotte plants beautiful flowers, shrubs, and trees, while communicating with nature. Charlotte is also a writer and was the keynote speaker at the 2011 Hilltop Annual Symposium where she gave a presentation about the principles in her book, The Wildlife Garden: Planning Backyard Habitats. At her garden, you will see native plant gardening at its best! Jean is the author of an impressive large coffee table book devoted to his art, Jean Seidenberg: Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture.
The Southern Hotel’s history of hospitality dates back to 1907. Established as a physical and spiritual retreat where visitors would re-energize amidst the area’s cool breezes, piney woods and mineral springs, the hotel has hosted guests for more than 50 years. When the hotel’s new owners purchased the property in 2011, they were motivated by a desire to return the building to a modern interpretation of what it once was. After a two-year meticulous renovation and restoration, the hotel reopened on June 1, 2014, 107 years to the date from its original opening. Johnny Mayronne, working in concert with the hotel owner, designed the hotel’s garden spaces and will lead us on a private tour. BBQ lunch will be served at the hotel’s Garden House Patio after the tour. The Garden House has an equally interesting history, as it was originally the 1937 Covington Post Office which includes a 1939 WPA mural “Tung Oil Industry” by renowned artist, Xavier Gonzales.
After a short drive to Folsom, the bus will pull into Doug Green’s Underhill Bonsai, the only full-service bonsai nursery in Louisiana. We will enjoy a short program about the history of the Japanese bonsai tradition developed over the course of 1,000 years and the emerging American bonsai movement, as it is practiced by Evan Purdue the nursery manager. Evan’s artistic style focuses on what he sees in nature rather than the traditional idealized tree form of the Japanese bonsai tradition. On display will be bonsai specimens that focus largely on plants native to the Deep South or thrive in our climate. The nursery also carries a full line of supplies, including a proprietary bonsai soil mix, fertilizer, tools, wire, and pots that include a full range from plastic to one-of-a-kind, artisan, and hand-crafted.
After a short drive through the tranquil rolling countryside of Folsom with picturesque views of horse farms, we will arrive at Doug and Mary Green’s home garden. The Green’s successfully converted a 3-acre plot into a natural habitat meadow within a covenant restricted neighborhood. The garden includes walking paths where we will see colorful fall blooming natives, annuals, perennials and butterflies of the longleaf pine forest habitat. Marc Pastorek will lead a tour and discuss the development of the garden. Another goal of Doug and Mary was to provide a template for others that expands the use of native plants in all kinds of landscapes in residential settings.
The last stop of the day is Mizell’s Camellia Hill Nursery with over 200 varieties of Camellia including Japonica, Sasanqua, Vernalis, Hiemalis and Sinensis (Tea Plants). The nursery is a Camellia lover’s dream! Paige Mizell is so excited about our visit she has prepared gift bags and will give us a short program on the history of camellias, planting and care tips, flower types, and even the history of tea production in the US. The nursery grounds are heavily planted with Camellias, and Paige said the Sasanqua will be starting to show off their fall blooms during our visit. You will be able to buy Camellia and if we buy enough, Paige will deliver them to Hilltop. Check out their website for an availability list. They also have a large selection of azaleas, gardenia, and other garden plants.
On our return trip to Baton Rouge, Hilltop will provide the wine and snacks for a bus party all the way home!!!