Secret Gardens: Tour offers a peek into lush landscapes of the city

Tour offers a peek into lush landscapes of the city

When Sue and Charlie McMahon moved into their house in Uptown in September, they looked out over the lawn and saw potential.

“The house had been beautifully restored, but the yard was just grass,’’ Sue McMahon said.

The bones of a garden design are now nearly in place, and echo the X’s of the iron railings. Bricks in the back are laid out in X’s, plans are for jasmine to be trained on an X on each side of the back garden, and in front there are petite clipped X-shaped shrubs.

Besides showy hibiscuses in bloom, McMahon has planted sweet olives and gardenias, as well as the very fragrant David Austin rose in front. “I really love a fragrant garden,’’ she said.

McMahon, a self-taught gardener, has numerous books on the topic attesting to the depth of her training.

“My husband, Charlie, is as dedicated as I am,’’ she said, “and has really helped with design and installation.’’

The home is one of 11 on Saturday’s Secret Garden Tour, starting at the Milton H. Latter Library, 5120 St. Charles Ave.

The multifaceted day of tours, yoga, music and gardening tips was designed to raise awareness of and funds for brain injury recovery in Greater New Orleans.

Yoga Lagniappe, a local newsletter and yoga resource, will offer a variety of yoga classes for guests at all levels throughout the day on the library grounds. The classes are free, but a donation to the Secret Gardens Tour is requested. Bring a yoga mat if you have one.

Other attractions at the library include live music by local artists, a floral labyrinth, food vendors and Secret Treasures, a boutique with garden accessories, plants, art and gifts from regional artists and merchants.

The Master Gardeners of Greater New Orleans will be at 1635 Valence St. to offer tips on creating a compost pile, establishing a butterfly garden and the best plants for pond gardens.

The events also celebrate the debut of the SGT Serenity Garden, which will be open free to the public year round.

It is at the back of the library, near the driveway so that it is handicap-accessible, and offers a place to relax, unwind and enjoy the healing power of nature.

Eventually, brain injury recovery groups may use it as an outdoor space for meetings.

Participants may choose between guided and self-guided home tours. Guided tours take place every 30 minutes from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., cost $60 and include a short garden presentation by professionals in each venue. Self-guided tours are from noon to 5:30 p.m. with ticket sales ending at 4:30 p.m.; the cost is $30.

Most gardens on the tour are long established. The McMahons’ offers a glimpse at a work in progress.

However, the house and garden, clearly designed for the delight of residents and guests, have already been put to good use — for entertaining neighbors and celebrating the blessing of the house by the Rev. Carol Winn, pastor of Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church.

For information on the tours and other events, call (504) 838-3098.