Native plants of the South

Mark Laird, an award-winning historic landscape preservationist based in Toronto, will be featured speaker at the Friends of Hilltop Arboretum’s symposium “Magnolias, Azaleas, Southern Native Plants: Bartram’s Trail of Discovery,” on Saturday, Jan. 25.

Laird is an adjunct professor at Harvard University in history of landscape architecture. He will give an illustrated talk about a garden revolution that began in America with John Bartram, who transformed the English landscape with the introduction of hundreds of American trees and shrubs. He will touch on magnolias, azaleas and other Southern natives discovered by John and William Bartram, their international plant trade, and the nursery business that survived them.

Bartram and his son, William, traveled the South in the 1700s. John Bartram discovered and collected native plants, and created a nursery that supplied seeds and plants for the Colonies and a trans-Atlantic market. In 1775, his son traveled through Lake Pontchartrain, the Amite River and Bayou Manchac to the Mississippi River, through Baton Rouge near today’s LSU Hilltop Arboretum, and across the river to Pointe Coupee.

Also on the program are:

• Hilltop Director Peggy Davis Coates will talk about the Bartrams’ legacy and why it’s relevant and show photos from her visits to gardens in England and Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia.

• Van Cox, professor emeritus and former interim director of the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, will speak about the Louisiana landscape William Bartram discovered.

• Robert Bruzuszek, Mississippi State University landscape architecture associate professor, will focus on gardening with native plants.

The Hilltop Garden Book and Nature Shop will be open during breaks for gifts and plants purchases. Speakers will be on hand for book signings. Refreshments will be provided.