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Longtime family home in Woodgate focuses on comfort, ease of living

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Dr. Ronnie and Louann Bombet moved into Woodgate in the mid 1980s are probably the only family left among the original families in the subdivision.

Louann and Ronnie Bombet are certain of one thing — a formal house is not for them. Their idea of home is a welcoming place for four grown daughters, their husbands, three young grandchildren and an assortment of family dogs. “Our house is about children and dogs,” Louann Bombet said. Their large family… Continue reading →

‘Mr. Owita’s Guide to Gardening’: A late gardener’s spiritual wisdom

Photo provided -- Carol Walls and Giles Owita

My bookshelves are filled with guides to gardening. There’s a book about container gardens, another about topiary, a few on kitchen gardens and one on family gardening, whatever that is. Roses, perennials, native plants — I have books on every topic. But “Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening” stands apart because rather than share how-to tips (there… Continue reading →

Gardening news: Fall is for planting shrubs

Advocate file photo -- Fall is a great time to plant shrubs in your yard and azaleas are an area favorite. To make sure you select the best shrubs, choose them based on their expected mature size and shape.

Shrubs make up the main background plants for most home landscapes, and fall is the best time to plant them. When selecting shrubs, choose those that will ultimately meet your design expectations, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. If you have a plant that will mature to the wrong size, he says, chances are you’ll soon… Continue reading →

Peek inside: Baton Rouge couple shows how music part of their unique, grand home

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The living room, which features a large bay window, a fireplace, two seating areas and a formal dining area, along with Beth Fuller's two harpsichords and a small grand piano.

The walled front of Beth and Butler Fuller’s home creates an aura of mystery by concealing a large courtyard enclosing two separate “houses,” one on each side. The entrance to the courtyard, the only opening in the wall, is a gate behind three arches just three steps from the street in their Stones Throw neighborhood.… Continue reading →

Tomato Disease Workshop scheduled Oct. 5-7 in Baton Rouge

The 30th Annual Tomato Disease Workshop will be held Oct. 5-7 at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capital Center in downtown Baton Rouge. The workshop provides an opportunity to discuss all aspects of tomato pathogens and disease management, said LSU AgCenter extension plant pathologist Melanie Lewis Ivey. All members of the plant health community are… Continue reading →

Garden news: Mulch promotes healthy plants, soil

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS, LSU AgCenter  Oaks and other shade trees are often improperly mulched in the landscape. Mulch should be spread under the tree dripline and not piled around the trunk.

All ornamental plants greatly benefit from mulching when it’s done correctly, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. Good mulching can have several beneficial effects on plants, the soil and the surrounding area. Mulch can conserve soil moisture, maintain ideal soil temperatures, reduce weed seed germination and growth, prevent soil fungus from splashing on leaves, lessen cold… Continue reading →

With spectacular views of pond, wildlife and occasional meteor showers, architect's Hammond home truly a dream retreat

Photo provided by MARC LAMPKIN --- The Pond House living room's walls of windows make it feel like you're in a treehouse.

Twenty years after he began with a master plan for the 16-acre former Sontheimer dairy farm, architect Michael Holly finally has his dream house. The Pond House at Ten Oaks Farm is an award-winning getaway retreat for Holly and wife, Denise, having recently won the Baton Rouge Chapter of the American… Continue reading →

Garden news: Native beauty berry creates fall color

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS -- American beautyberry produces berries in fall and is a great native shrub for attracting birds and other wildlife to your landscape.

American beautyberry is putting on a great display as we head into fall. It’s a great Louisiana native shrub that deserves increased use, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. “These plants have abundant fruit production in the fall, and with their wildlife benefit, they fit well into a woodland garden setting,” he says. Native Americans… Continue reading →

Dramatic ginger blooms spice up landscapes

Photo by R. Stephanie Bruno -- Gingers -- Costus, 'Crape'

Ginger is much more than a delightful spice used in baking or a garnish for sushi. As most local gardeners know, it is a family (Zingiberceae) of tropical plants that come in many sizes and a dazzling array of blooms. Most varieties are well-suited to our warm, humid environment and can thrive pest-free… Continue reading →

Master Gardeners present information on cool season, bulbs, pets

The East Baton Rouge Master Gardeners are presenting two programs in area libraries from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, and from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12. The free educational presentations provide research-based information targeted toward home gardeners, according to publicity chair Donna Montgomery. The program on Sept. 17 will be held at the Fairwood Branch library… Continue reading →

Garden News: Start fall garden, and don’t forget carrots

Photo by Kiki Fontenot/LSU AgCenter -- With seeds planted now, fresh-from-the-garden carrots will be ready to enjoy with your holiday meals this fall and winter.

Gardening is a great form of exercise. Not only will you stretch and use various muscle groups, your hard efforts will produce a lot of healthy produce. “Don’t wait for a New Year’s resolution,” says LSU AgCenter vegetable specialist Kiki Fontenot. “Get ahead of the holidays and start a fall garden.” Carrots are a “must-have”… Continue reading →

Several renovations, additions later Baton Rouge couple finish downsizing

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Landscaping, including a parterre garden and native plants and trees, form a beautiful setting for the Batemans' home in Meadow Lea.

Sissy and John Bateman planned to downsize. They really did. They sold their large house on Jefferson Highway and moved to Meadow Lea. But in the 20-plus years in their present home, they have continued to “upsize” with two major additions, several renovations and a complete landscaping of their property. Because their big house sold… Continue reading →

Garden News: Seasons change differently in Louisiana

Photo by DAN GILL/LSU AgCenter  While the start of fall is only weeks away, warm-season flowers will continues to bloom here for a while.

You may often hear people say Labor Day is traditional end of summer, and, according to the calendar, fall will officially start at the fall equinox on Sept. 23. In south Louisiana, however, the summer season extends a good bit longer. You might begin to notice more vigor in your warm-season bedding plants in September, says LSU… Continue reading →

Story of Clinton's 175-year-old Marston House one of revival and survival -- and there's the bank vault

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- The Marston House in Clinton is now restored and ready for community cultural events. The building was started in the 1830s by the Union Bank of New Orleans, but never finished. In 1835, Henry Marston made a deal to complete the bank, the Union Bank of Clinton, and, in 1837, added the family residence to the building.

James G. “Jimmy” Marston III lives in Shreveport, but his roots are in Clinton in the 175-plus-year-old Southern classic Marston House. For decades, the once-grand home stood as a reminder of one of Clinton’s great old families and of the town’s years as a commercial center. At a Marston family… Continue reading →

Garden news: Time to divide, plant your Louisiana irises

Photo by DAN GILL/LSU AgCenter  Now's a great time to plant or divide your Louisiana irises, which can be found around the world.

Louisiana iris is the name used worldwide for a unique group of Louisiana-native iris species and, in particular, their hybrids. They are now grown in gardens from Europe to Australia. The best time to plant Louisiana irises is in August and September when they are at their most dormant, or October just as they begin to grow,… Continue reading →

Massive patio, pool, koi pond, outdoor kitchen punctuate Baton Rouge home after major makeover

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- The large den-kitchen area features a  recessed ceiling alcove faced with original paneling  from the home. Rich Major and son Alex carefully removed every piece of the old paneling so it could be reused in the renovation. The fireplace separates the living room-dining room from the den-kitchen.

Claire Herthum Major and her husband, Rich, searched for months for a mid-century modern house. “Janet Schwartz, from C.J. Brown, took us to quite a few, but the ones she showed us had already been renovated, fooled with or added on,” Claire Major said. Finally, she showed them exactly what they weren’t looking for… Continue reading →

Naturalist William Bartram's travels in Louisiana to be commemorated

William Bartram

The Friends of LSU Hilltop Arboretum in cooperation with the Bartram Trail Conference will commemorate the 240th anniversary of naturalist William Bartram’s visit to Louisiana, starting with an opening reception on Sept. 3 and continuing from Sept. 8-12 with ceremonies at each of the sites where historical markers will be placed. The culmination of the event… Continue reading →

Garden news: Watch for drought stress, chinch bugs

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS, LSU AgCenter -- Lawns and landscapes across Louisiana are showing signs of drought and summer stress. Water correctly and watch for insects to keep your lawn in shape.

Record-setting heat and below-normal rainfall over the past weeks have led to drought symptoms in most landscapes. Lawns and landscape beds have been suffering. Even with recent rains, it’s vital to keep up with irrigation when necessary through the rest of summer and fall to prevent long-term damage to plants, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.… Continue reading →

Davis family enjoys longtime love affair with Broadmoor house filled with 'many happy memories'

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The Davises' spacious and open kitchen offers plenty of counters space and stainless steel appliances.

Wayne and Marilyn Davis moved to Broadmoor in 1977 as much for the convenient location of the neighborhood as for the curb appeal and floor plan of their home. Over the past 38 years, they have thought about moving once or twice. “But we have never found one we love as much as we… Continue reading →

Gardeners plant small scenes to instill love for nature's beauty, all under the eyes of fairies

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG --  Julia Shaffer, right, helps her grandmother, Kitty Bull with this fairy garden in Bull's backyard. Bull uses fairy gardens to share her interest in gardening with her grandchildren.

When Angie Wall wanted to pass on her love of gardening to her grandchildren, she recruited some allies. Fairies. Well, not actual fairies, but the next best thing — fairy gardens. Fairy gardens — tiny gardens that include miniature items like buildings, chairs, vehicles, people and, of course, fairies — have been around for a… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge architect Harris' book leads the way on how to dream up a house


Local architect Kevin Harris wants your “dream home” to be your “forever home.” And in his new book, “The Forever Home,” the 60-year-old expert on residential design and renovation explains just how to make that happen. “The Forever Home,” Harris says, is the “home you’ve always dreamed of — one that fits so well, it… Continue reading →

English gardens meet Marseille farmhouse

Photo by PHILIP GOULD - Richard Goula with longtime friend Liz Hampton

There’s no denying the impact of French influence, whether it’s ornate elegance and fashionable chic or the way the colors of the landscape reflect in the decaying charm of rural dwellings. However, it takes an American to try this at home. Situated on 18 acres near Sunset, homeowner and president of British Acadian Richard Goula required… Continue reading →

Wendy Lipsey tells interior designer to do things that spooked others; now she loves her transformed home

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Wendy Lipsey, center, best friend Ellen Sager, left, and friend and decorator Aimée Walker in the living room of Lipsey's home the the two friends decorated for her.

Wendy Lipsey was living with parents Susan and Richard Lipsey — as she recovered from liver and kidney transplant surgery this past March — when she quickly realized there was no way she was going to be able to transform her new house into a home. So, she called up best friend Ellen Sager and mutual interior designer… Continue reading →

Retired cardiologist covers Prairieville land with plants that naturally reproduce, require little maintenance

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Dr. Terry Rehn and companion Joyce Jenne stand next to the sugar kettle water feature on the patio at his Prairieville home.

Dr. Terry Rehn’s eight-acre homesite is his own experiment station where plants — both native and those from other parts — grow freely and spread naturally. In the 22 years the retired cardiologist has owned the Prairieville property, he has established beds that require almost no replanting, even with annuals, by discovering plants that naturally… Continue reading →

Take your time, research when planning summer landscape

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS/LSU AgCenter  Landscape professionals are familiar with Louisiana plants and can help create a design that's right for you.

Landscapes are dynamic creations that are always changing. Plants grow larger. New plants are added. Plants die. Even trees may be lost in storms. Over the years, a landscape can change radically from its original look. Summer is a great time to study your landscape and develop plans for needed changes, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist… Continue reading →

The Lush Life: Baton Rouge resident's garden draws birds, bees and butterflies

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Mary Johnson cares for her Australian tree fern, top, and mule's foot fern on the deck of her Hundred Oaks home.

Mary Johnson wants visitors to come to her lush garden, and plants the vines and foliage that will make sure birds, bees and butterflies come calling. There’s milkweed for monarch butterflies and passion vines for the Gulf fritillary, the state butterfly. “I plant for them,” she said, noting she doesn’t use any chemicals, “just a… Continue reading →

LSU AgCenter: Know the drainage when planting, choose plants for wet spots

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS, LSU AgCenter  Luna hibiscus, named a Louisiana Super Plant in 2014, comes in four colors and is great to plant in wet or boggy areas.

Although it’s not too late to add warm-season flowering plants to the landscape, it’s important to be sure to know the drainage when you plant. “We always tell people to plant bedding plants in well-prepared, well-drained beds,” says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. But because of occasional heavy rains, we have to be careful where we plant,… Continue reading →

Rebuilding her home: Baton Rouge’s Minere Wall finds a spot for all of her treasures at St. James Place

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Minere Wall relaxes in the living room of her apartment at the St. James Place Retirement Community, where she moved in 2010 from a large house off Highland Road. She moved the best pieces from her collection of French antiques to the redone apartment.

In 2010, Minere Wall moved with her treasures and memories from a large house off Highland Road to an apartment at the St. James Place Retirement Community. “After my husband died, I continued to live in my beautiful home for two years,” she said. “I needed a change. I wanted to do things. I wanted… Continue reading →

Go out and get ‘Hooked on Orchids’

Advocate file photo

Copper Queens will probably be there along with Ho Chi Minh. Crystal Sand and Mishima Luster will no doubt put on a show. And, of course, there will be the oh-so-classic white, its blooms branching in graceful arches. And, who knows? You just might get “Hooked on Orchids,” the theme for the Acadian Orchid Society’s annual… Continue reading →

LSU AgCenter Garden News: Keep pesky pests away from gardens, landscapes

Photo by RAJ SINGH, LSU AgCenter   A slug feeds on strawberry fruit. These pests, along with snails, can cause considerable damage to fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants in your garden.

Slimy slugs and snails can be pesky pests in Louisiana gardens and landscapes. “We all know that pathogens and insect pests can cause severe damage to vegetables, fruits and ornamentals in home gardens and landscapes,” says Raj Singh, plant pathologist and director of the LSU AgCenter Plant Diagnostic Center. “But slimy slugs and snails also can cause… Continue reading →

Couple finds solitude near busy Baton Rouge thoroughfare

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- The light copper-colored walls and exposed beams in their living room along wih a great view of their spacious backyard are some of the reasons Bernard and Betty Berry still love living in the home they built 40 years ago.

Forty years ago when Bernard and Betty Berry built in Oakbrook, it was a tranquil Perkins Road setting in an undeveloped part of the parish. Since then, businesses and subdivisions have grown up around their little neighborhood of 43 individually designed homes with a shared lake, secluded park and walking trails. “Baton Rouge moved… Continue reading →

LSU AgCenter Garden News: Sweet figs popular with people, birds

Photo provided by LSU AgCenter -- Ripening figs are popular in June landscapes.

June is fig season in Louisiana. The popular fruit tree abounds in backyards throughout the state. Figs are easy to propagate and are good pass-along plants, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Charlie Johnson. The most common variety is Celeste, which has been around for more than 100 years. But several newer varieties, such as LSU Purple, LSU… Continue reading →

Bromeliad show, sale scheduled

The Bromeliad Society of Baton Rouge presents the 41st annual Bromeliad Show and Sale on Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, at the Baton Rouge Garden Center, 7950 Independence Blvd., Baton Rouge. Sale hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The show is free and open to the public.… Continue reading →

Cottage Converts: Steele Place home has evolved with the Duprees’ lives

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Sarah Dupree, Warren Dupree, 15, Winston Dupree, 11, and Jason Dupree, from left, relax on the back porch of their Steele Place home. .

What started out as a traditional 1930s-vintage wood-frame house is now Sarah and Jason Dupree’s comfortable home, perfect for casual living, entertaining and raising their family. Originally a two-bedroom, one-bath cottage, the house was completely renovated in 1962 by a previous owner. The massive project included the addition of a second story as well… Continue reading →

Daylilies of summer: Baton Rouge society offers tour


“Those Summertime Blooms” is the theme for the Baton Rouge Daylily Society’s open garden tour on Saturday, May 30. The tour, which is free and runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., features beautifully landscaped public and private gardens in Baton Rouge and the surrounding area. In addition to thousands of different daylily varieties, you’ll also see… Continue reading →

Shedding ideas about space: Backyard storage gets new life as pubs, studios, getaways

Associated Press photo -- One homeowner used a shed to enhance the backyard and create additional space for entertaining and outdoor living in San Carlos, Calif. Homeowners around the country are using sheds as a place to hang out.

When Morgaine Ford-Workman and Wren Workman bought a house with a backyard shed, they saw the potential for something more than storing garden tools. The couple transformed the 10-by-12-foot building into a bar to use during outdoor parties at their house in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. “We’re involved in community theater and we like to throw a lot… Continue reading →