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'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 →

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 →