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Garden program for kids set Feb. 20 at Burden

The LSU AgCenter will host a seasonal children’s garden activity at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden on Saturday, Feb. 20. The program will focus on vegetable gardening and present information on which plants are native to America and which are not, said AgCenter fruit and vegetable specialist Kiki Fontenot. “Kids will have an… Continue reading →

Garden news: Don’t ‘murder’ crape myrtles

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS, LSU AgCenter  Want to know the right way to prune crape myrtles? This isn't it.

It’s that time of year again when people begin pruning trees and shrubs in anticipation of spring growth. And AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings is concerned people will prune their crape myrtles incorrectly. Crape myrtles need only occasional pruning, Owings says. “An unfortunate trend in crape myrtle pruning is to lop off the tops, which results in… Continue reading →

Conservators try to restore Lafayette’s Mouton House, once an Azalea Trail star, to its former glory

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Jolynn Cole, grounds chairwoman for the Alexandre Mouton House and a Master Gardener, pulls weeds from the azalea garden in the backyard. She and four other women are doing their best to keep the flowers blooming.

Once the star of Lafayette’s Azalea Trail, which covers about 20 miles of city streets each spring in lavender and fuchsia, the Alexandre Mouton House is trying to make a comeback. All it takes is modernization — and money. The oldest dwelling in the city and home to the Lafayette Museum, the Mouton House was built… Continue reading →

Stash of architectural salvage gives Gonzales home warm, woody feel

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- The Abramsons' living room, with its exposed beams and wood ceiling, is the most formal room in the house.

Mathile Abramson knows every door, every window and every beam in her country French home. Even before she had any idea of the type of home she and her husband, Dr. Steve Abramson, would build, she spent years searching for and gathering old architectural materials. “Steve and I had always wanted to live… Continue reading →

Garden news: Attack winter weeds in lawns

Photo provided by LSU AgCenter  Lawn burweed or spurweed, more commonly known as sticker weed, is one of the winter weeds that can crop up in a lawn. It can be pretty painful for kids and barefoot adults, so now is a good time to get rid of it.

Green weeds can be really obvious in brown, dormant lawns. LSU AgCenter weed scientist Ron Strahan says it’s OK to spray lawns now with liquid herbicides to control those winter weeds before they become mature and start producing seeds. Liquid atrazine tests best in winter weed trials and is good for winter weed control in lawns now… Continue reading →

Home and Remodeling Show, food Fest set

Need ideas for your next home improvement project? The Home and Remodeling Show and Ralph’s Markets Food Fest runs Saturday and Sunday at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center. The show will feature products and services for everything inside and outside the home, including the latest in kitchens, bathrooms, siding and solar products. There also will… Continue reading →

Petite Antiques Forum to spotlight 132-year-old Poplar Grove Plantation

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Steele Wilkinson Buckholtz and his wife, Lauren, are the fifth generation of the Wilkinson family to call Poplar Grove home. The 132-year-old house will be on tour as part of the Friends of Magnolia Mound Plantation's 16th annual Petite Antiques Forum.

Poplar Grove is one of the West Side’s fine old plantation homes, housing the furnishings, collections and memories for five generations of the Wilkinson family. Hidden among the trees just one mile south of the old Mississippi River bridge, the 132-year-old structure was built not as a house, but as the Bankers’ Pavilion for the 1884… Continue reading →

Garden news: It’s time to plant a tree

Photo by DAN GILL, LSU AgCenter  January is a great time to plant a tree, and nurseries have many from which to choose.

Arbor Day in Louisiana is the third Friday in January. Started in Nebraska in 1872, Arbor Day is designated as a day for planting trees. In Louisiana, January is considered the best month to do this. LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings says some of the most popular and best trees for Louisiana landscapes include the… Continue reading →

Retired architects go tropical with redesign to create 'very un-Baton Rouge house'

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Bodo and Kitty Claus enjoy their living room, which opens to the kitchen, and is furnished with Mid-Century Modern furniture, including several tables made by Bodo Claus.The glass doors at the back open to a deck, a natural extension of the room.

Bodo and Kitty Claus live in a house that is anything but traditional. No stately columns, no verandas, no parlors and no live oaks. “It’s a very unBaton Rouge house,” says Kitty Claus of the couple’s Meadow Lea residence. Twelve years ago, the Clauses, retired architects and empty nesters, were looking for a smaller… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge Green to hold Arbor Day luncheon Jan. 15

Baton Rouge Green will celebrate Arbor Day at its annual Arbor Day Luncheon at noon Friday, Jan. 15, at the Lod Cook Alumni Center, 3838 W. Lakeshore Drive. The keynote speaker will be Greg Levine, co-executive director and chief program officer of Trees Atlanta. He will discuss the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, a 22-mile-long linear expanse of dynamic… Continue reading →

Garden news: Hollies color winter landscapes

Photo by TOM POPE  Savannah holly produces abundant berries every year.

In Europe, evergreen plants were used for decorating at Christmas because they represented life in the midst of a cold, dead winter season. And hollies are among these plants because of their deep green foliage and bright red fruits. Even though the holidays are past, January is one of the best times of year to plant… Continue reading →

Mittendorf family breathes new life into old dairy barn

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- The home of Major and Chanler Holden Mittendorf on Highland Road was once a dairy barn. Over the years the couple increased the size of the home to make it comfortable for their family, which includes three sons.

Major and Chanler Holden Mittendorf and their three sons live in an old dairy barn surrounded by family and a menagerie that includes a llama, a horse, chickens, rabbits, three Boykin spaniels and a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig named Noel, a special delivery from Santa Claus several years ago. Chanler Mittendorf’s sister and brother-in-law, Dr. Wendy… Continue reading →

Hilltop’s ‘Living Landscape’ symposium set Jan. 16

Rick Darke

Making a garden friendly for both people and wildlife is the topic of the Friends of Hilltop Arboretum annual symposium scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 16. Tickets are on sale for “The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden,” which will feature Rick Darke, a landscape design consultant, and Doug Tallamy, a professor… Continue reading →

BR Herb Society offers class on lemon curd, chutney

Want to learn how to make lemon curd and chutney? Join the Baton Rouge Unit of the Herb Society of America for a hands-on class from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 23, at the Ione E. Burden Conference Center, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge. Participants will make lemon curd, mango chutney and another chutney of… Continue reading →

Garden news: Most holiday plants are keepers

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS, LSU AgCenter  Christmas cactuses like well-drained containers and thrive on outdoor patios for most of the year.

After the holidays are over, you may wonder what to do with the seasonal plants you’ve used to decorate your home. Some can be kept as houseplants or planted into the landscape; others are best treated like cut flowers and discarded after they run their course. The most popular holiday plant is the poinsettia. If you believe… Continue reading →

Plant amaryllis after bloom

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS, LSU AgCenter  Amaryllises planted in garden beds will put on a beautiful show every year.

You may find amaryllis bulbs still available in garden centers, and it’s not too late to force them indoors for a spot of color on a winter windowsill and then plant them for wonderful color for years to come. Forcing the bulbs to bloom during winter is not difficult, and the results are beautiful, says LSU AgCenter… Continue reading →

Diane Tate’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ Christmas trees celebrates her successful brain surgery

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Diane Tate says her 'Wizard of Oz' tree is a sign of true miracle -- her brain surgery that allowed her to live seizure free. Friends started the tree's Oz collection with the Scarecrow ornament. 'They said that neither of us had brains,' Tate says with a laugh.

Follow the “yellow brick road” and you will end up at Diane Tate’s “Wizard of Oz” Christmas tree. There you will find Dorothy, Oz the Great and Powerful, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda, Almira Gulch, the Munchkin Mayor and, of course, the Ruby Red Slippers.… Continue reading →

Garden news: Don’t overlook pollinators

Photo by KIKI FONTENOT, LSU AgCenter  Broccoli plants that are allowed to go to flower provide a food source for bees and other pollinators as well as add color to a winter garden.

Winter isn’t the time for gardeners to stop considering pollinators when they work in their gardens. Gardeners start worrying about bees and other pollinators in the spring, when cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupes and other cucurbit crops are planted, but they seldom look for pollinators this time of year, says LSU AgCenter fruit and vegetable specialist Kiki Fontenot.… Continue reading →

Garden news: Get ready to protect plants from freezes

Photo by DAN GILL, LSU AgCenter  When a freeze is coming, cover tender plants with cloth secured at ground level and supported to prevent the plant from breaking.

Winter is here, and it’s time to be prepared to protect landscape plants during cold snaps. The best approach is to pay attention to the weather forecasts and have a plan ahead of time when a freeze is approaching. To prepare plants for a freeze, thoroughly water them if the soil is dry. This is especially important… Continue reading →

Woman sews colorful stockings for family members as a Christmas tradition

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Ella Kempton Plaisance tagged the toe of each Christmas stocking she made with a little bell, a tradition her daughter, Kathy Balhoff, continues with the stockings she crafts.

To celebrate Christmas, Tom and Kathleen “Kathy” Balhoff’s children and grandchildren hang handmade beaded felt stockings filled with memories that reflect three generations. In 1969, Kathy Balhoff’s mother, the late Ella Kempton Plaisance, began the tradition of the stockings, which she made and handbeaded for her 33 grandchildren over 27 years. She was an… Continue reading →

Garden News: Strawberries ready to harvest

Photo by KIKI FONTENOT, LSU AgCenter  Growing strawberries on plastic or other types of mulch keeps the berries clean and helps prevent weed growth.

December marks the start of strawberry harvest season in south Louisiana. “Louisiana strawberries are delicious whether produced on a Louisiana farm or in your backyard,” says LSU AgCenter fruit and vegetable specialist Kiki Fontenot. “Fresh-picked berries that have fully ripened on the bush are amazing.” If you’re growing strawberries at home, knowing your weed management… Continue reading →

Classic Homes tour to showcase six residences in College Town neighborhood

Photo provided by FHL -- A home tour benefiting the Foundation for Historical Louisiana will be held in the College Town neighborhood on Dec. 11.

“Classic Homes and Cocktails 2015,” a Dec. 11 home tour benefiting the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, will showcase six residences in the historic neighborhood of College Town, spotlighting preservation of homes. The tour begins with refreshments and hors d’oeuvres at 6 p.m. at the home of Marci and Bob Drumm, 560 Stanford Ave., where music and… Continue reading →

'Every piece ... is a story': Home's imaginative furnishings a tribute to woman's collecting skills, good luck

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Debra Breaux is a thrifty collector, finding her leather sofa at St. Vincent de Paul, her collection of framed botanicals from a 50-cent calendar and crafting her end table from a $2  decorative suitcase she bought at Albertson's.

Debra Breaux’s well-trained eyes are peeled as she drives around the area looking for garage sales and treasures by the side of the road. And a tour of her Westminster home is a testament to her expert collecting skills and a dose of good luck. Breaux’s thrifty collecting has been both a pleasure and… Continue reading →

SU Ag Center hosts annual Fall Gardening Workshop

The Southern University Ag Center is holding its third annual Fall Gardening Workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Registration for the event, which is free and includes a healthy lunch, will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the program starts at 9 a.m. inside A.O. Williams Hall at the SU Ag Center. Topics for this year’s workshop… Continue reading →

Garden news: Leslie Ann camellia named latest Super Plant

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS, LSU AgCenter -- Leslie Ann camellia is a proven winner for area landscapes and has been named a Louisiana Super Plant.

It’s the season of camellias, one of our popular evergreen shrubs. We typically think of azaleas for spring flowers, crape myrtles for summer flowers and camellias for fall and winter flowers in Louisiana. Leslie Ann camellia is a great choice and the latest LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plant selection for 2015. It’s a longtime proven… Continue reading →

You've gotta see this Baton Rouge home: Dream team assembled to build Majestic Oaks dwelling

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Jennifer and Sheldon Strasner's Greek Revival-style home is situated at a slight angle on their Majestic Oaks property to take advantage of the views.

Jennifer and Sheldon Strasner did the almost impossible — they built a new home and had fun doing it. The Strasners purchased a lot off Highland Road in Majestic Oaks and then, before any actual construction, built their team, including an architect, landscape designer and interior designer right from the start. “We had a lot… Continue reading →

Fall Garden Stroll spotlight on four Lake at White Oak Landing homes

Mark and Kim Morgan's garden will be part of the LSU Hilltop Arboretum Fall Garden Stroll on Nov. 22.

The LSU Hilltop Arboretum Fall Garden Stroll will take participants into the premier neighborhood of the Lake at White Oak Landing on Sunday, Nov. 22. Four gardens will be open for touring in the private, wooded, nature-rich community of custom homes on acre lots. The garden tour hosts are Virginia and Charles Yarbrough, 18626 Tranquility… Continue reading →

Garden news: Rose disease moving into Louisiana

LSU experts are warning Louisiana gardeners about rose rosette disease, which is a threat to roses in Louisiana. All rose enthusiasts should know about this problem and look for symptoms, says LSU AgCenter “plant doctor” Raj Singh. Caused by rose rosette virus, the disease was recently identified for the first time in Louisiana on landscape shrub… Continue reading →

EBR Master Gardens offering two programs

The East Baton Rouge Master Gardeners are presenting two programs on Nov. 12 at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge. From 6:30-8:30 p.m., the free educational presentations on “Pet Friendly Garden” and “Preparing your Garden for the Cool Season” will be held. “The pet friendly gardens program will teach how… Continue reading →

Family's Jefferson Place home has all their favorite things

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Andrea McKey, left, and daughter Amanda McKey sit in the den of the family home, which was designed by noted architect A. Hays Town and incorporates his trademarks, such as floors of old brick.

After 11 years in their Jefferson Place home, Andrea and David McKey still feel a tremendous responsibility to preserve it the way revered architect A. Hays Town designed it. Decades ago, Town came up with the plan for Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Raggio. “I feel such an affinity to take care of it for the… Continue reading →

Garden news: Cool-season flowers has 4 groups

Photo by DAN GILL, LSU AgCenter  Blooming violas planted in fall will continue to bloom all through our mild winter.

November is the perfect time of year to add cool-season bedding plants to flower beds to keep them beautiful, attractive and colorful through fall and winter and then put on a huge beautiful display in spring. LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill has come up with four groupings of cool-season plants — bloom all season, take the… Continue reading →

Couple building Beauregard Town gardens to feed new urban lifestyle

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- In the tradition of southern gardens, some of the beds in Suzanne Turner's urban garden are lined with old wine bottles.

Suzanne Turner and her husband, Scott Purdin, are big believers in urban communities. They live and work in Beauregard Town, just a few short blocks from downtown Baton Rouge. As part of their commitment to the neighborhood, Turner, professor emeritus in the LSU School of Landscape Architecture, built a 2,800-square-foot garden behind her landscape architecture office.… Continue reading →

Garden news: Advantages to fall planting

Photo by DAN GILL, LSU AgCenter -- Selecting the right fruit tree, like this LaFeliciana peach, will ensure you have a variety that produces well.

Many Louisiana gardeners wait until spring to buy their fruit trees, shrubs and vines to plant in their landscapes. But fall is really a great time to do this, and nurseries and garden centers generally have a good selection of fruiting plants this time of the year, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. The… Continue reading →

Fall Tree for All Tree Sale, Celebration set Friday, Saturday

Baton Rouge Green’s annual Fall Tree‐for‐All Tree Sale & Celebration will be held Friday and Saturday at LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge. Sale hours are 1-6 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. until “we float away” on Saturday. An expanded selection of native trees from Louisiana growers will be… Continue reading →

Secret to Glenmore Place yard’s success? A plan, charming ‘destinations’ and something black & white and re(a)d all over

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- The Donaldsons' backyard deck and outdoor kitchen are framed by an arch covered with evergreen wisteria.

A hodgepodge yard? That’s what Jetty Donaldson calls the garden she has been working on for the past 40 years. But it did start with a plan in 1975 when she and her husband, Richard Donaldson, had the late Robert Reich create a master plan for their Glenmore Place yard. “I told Dr. Reich… Continue reading →

Two speakers set for Baton Rouge Daylily Society meeting

Daylily hybridizers Chris and Beth Rae, of Deep South Daylilies, will speak at the Saturday, Oct. 31, meeting of the Baton Rouge Daylily Society. The meeting will be held at Drusilla Seafood, 3482 Drusilla Lane, Baton Rouge. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. followed by a short meeting at 10 a.m. The program starts at 10:30 a.m. Meals… Continue reading →

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 →