Saturday, April 15, 2017

New Orleans Botanical Garden

 By Margaret S. Hamilton 



During my recent visit to New Orleans, I visited the Botanical Garden in City Park several times, both to photograph the gardens and attend an early evening Motown concert in the Pavilion of Two Sisters.


The Botanical Garden dates from the original WPA-funded rose garden, planted in 1936. The art deco influences of the period are evident in the architecture and sculpture. Surrounded by the largest stand of mature live oaks in the United States, the Garden has over 2000 plant species in its twelve-acre site, filled with butterflies, raucous mockingbirds, and a purple martin colony nesting in hanging gourds.


The Rose Parterre is a collection of modern varieties—tea roses, hybrid teas, and grandiflora roses, planted in geometric beds defined by boxwood hedges. Coretta Scott King is a dazzling cream grandiflora rose frosted with coral, Mr. Lincoln a stalwart hybrid tea rose, its tall limbs topped with brilliant deep red blooms. I saw many old favorites, including two that share my daughters’ names, the pink grandiflora Queen Elizabeth and the butter-colored floribunda Julia Child.


One of my earliest memories is picking Japanese beetles off my mother’s roses. Visiting an extensive rose garden is like seeing old friends again, and making new ones.


The geometric boxwood gardens are surrounded by side gardens with trellises supporting varieties of climbing roses. Antique roses, including the light pink Blush Noisette, date from the early nineteenth century. They have one treasured short bloom time and overpowering sweet scents.


A rectangular water garden filled with water lilies separates the two sides of the rose garden, with a more modern wall garden surrounding a fountain nearby.


The butterfly garden is a jumbled planting of nectar and larval host plants for butterflies and caterpillars. I saw masses of lantana covered with butterflies next to large clumps of phlox. The shade garden showcases a collection of shade-loving plants and shrubs, a cool respite from the intense southern sun.


The Pavilion of Two Sisters anchors one end of the garden, a cantaloupe-colored stucco structure lined with French doors opening to a terrace. Outdoor weddings take place in the adjacent azalea and camellia garden. The gardens adjoining the pavilion are planted with white and vivid blue perennials and annuals.


The roses were in full and opulent bloom during my late March visit, the azaleas nearing the end of their season. Vivid red oriental poppies provided a backdrop in the flower beds.


I discovered a large bed of Louisiana iris in the adjacent sculpture garden, in hues of red, yellow, and shades of purple. Through volunteer efforts, the many varieties of Louisiana iris are being identified throughout the state.


Readers, do you have a favorite botanical garden?


E. B. Davis said...

Where I grew up in PA, roses never bloomed until June. But here in NC, and as I saw from your pictures, they bloom much earlier. I'll always associate roses with the beginning of summer (and the end of school!), but I'll try to get used to them as a signal of a mature spring. Thanks for your post with the wonderful pictures.

Kait said...

What lovely pictures, Margaret! I never expected to see such glorious roses so near to salt water. The garden looks like the perfect place to take a laptop and write. Roosevelt had an amazing inspiration in the WPA (I credit Eleanor, but that's another conversation) using the WPA not only to build infrastructure but to create parks and gardens.

Japanese beetles, oh my, haven't thought of them in years. Yes, they formed a backdrop of my childhood as well. Never see them anymore. I wonder if the now banned pesticides did away with them, or if they were simply driven from this area of Florida by other causes.

Thank you for the perfect glimpse of spring.

Becky Michael said...

Wonderful pictures! I see that the Botanic Gardens in Fort Worth, Texas, are having their iris show, right now. Haven't been there for years, since moving back this time. They also have the Japanese Gardens, where the kids loved feeding the plentiful koi in the ponds. Those sure were fun times.

KM Rockwood said...

Thanks for the beautiful pictures! Roses aren't out here in PA yet--we're in the middle of daffodil season--but I do look forward to seeing them.

I love to visit botanical gardens when I travel.

Warren Bull said...

Portland is called the Rose city. It has a magnificent rose garden.

Gloria Alden said...

What beautiful pictures, Margaret. As others said Roses don't come out here until June in the north. Whenever I go on vacation with my sisters or my daughter, we visit gardens, too many to mention here, but some of my favorites are Longwood Gardens in Delaware, Massachusetts Botanical Gardens, Fioli Gardens south of San Francisco, and the Golden Gate Gardens. The only problem with my visiting them, I get too many ideas and end up expanding my own to more than one person can manage.

Shari Randall said...

What a gorgeous garden. I can see why they do weddings there.
Up north, we're in the middle of daffodil and forsythia season. Roses come a bit later here.
I have to second Warren's shout out for the Portland rose gardens - everything in the Pacific northwest grows magnificently. The roses we saw were spectacular, and the dahlias out there are huge.

Unknown said...

I've been to a wedding there, and it was lovely. We were met by waiters with fresh mint juleps. then moved on to the lace-covered table that held cans of OFF. All that beauty comes with mosquitoes! The American Rose Society has its official gardens here in Shreveport. Come visit and you can see more than 20,000 rose bushes on 118 acres.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Elaine, discovering the roses in full and glorious bloom was a delight. I have knockout roses in Cincinnati which have their initial bloom in late May and early June.

Kait, the Botanical Gardens are designed with many "rooms", including a shade garden under the live oaks. The perfect place for quiet inspiration.

Becky, I was fascinated by the many colors and varieties of Louisiana iris which are collected and catalogued in the NOLA sculpture garden.

Kathleen, Cincinnati is also in daffodil season with all the flowering trees: crabapples, ornamental cherries, redbuds, and this weekend, dogwoods.

Warren, I would love to visit the rose gardens in Oregon and Vancouver.

Gloria, I've visited Longwood Gardens but not the others you mention. A good excuse for a trip to the west coast!

Shari, enjoy nature's bouquet of forsythia and daffodils.

Amy, I can imagine how lovely a wedding in the Botanical Gardens must be. I put the ARS gardens in Shreveport on my bucket list. Years ago, I visited the Jackson and Perkins gardens in upstate NY.

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