Local experts and aficionados weigh in with tips and share why they love to grow things.
Writing and gardening are entwined in my life. My very first poem, written at age 6, was about a brave tulip breaking the frozen Wisconsin soil to bloom. So I thought it would be interesting to share the words and thoughts of other local gardeners about their passion for gardening.
Why do you garden?
“At Grow Dat Youth Farm, we grow food to strengthen our community and the land.” - Leo Gorman, Farm Manager, Grow Dat Youth Farm
“I garden because it gives what I eat so much more purpose. My parents grew up in India, and much of what they ate was vegetarian and grown on their own land. They brought those skills here to America, and we have never been without a garden.” - Harpreet Samra, Home Gardener
“I find that gardening awakens my spirit and calms my everyday worries. There is something so comforting in having your hands in the dirt. It is so simple, but such a miracle to watch a seed grow.” - Cindy Metcalf, President, Master Gardeners of Greater New Orleans
“It’s a hobby, a passion and therapeutic exercise. I like putting together a visual garden that includes fragrance and soothing sounds. Lizards and butterflies are a sign that everything is balanced.” - Nancy Lipsey, Home Gardener
What’s the key to a successful garden?
“Listening. The garden speaks its own language and is a great teacher. The more time you spend in it, the easier it is to understand how to succeed.” - Amber Dawn, Education Director, Hollygrove Market and Farm
“A driving passion for horticulture is behind every successful garden. A successful garden can be a profitable vegetable garden, a bountiful flower garden, or any place that is improved by the presence of a green space.” - Amy Graham, Director of Horticulture, Longue Vue House and Gardens
“Good soil is where it all starts. Then pay a lot of attention to your garden to catch problems early and keep records. Perfect success will not happen with gardening, but if you remember what you did wrong this year, you can fix it next year!” - Sarah Bertrand, Jefferson Parish Extension Agent
What’s your favorite plant?
“It would have to be one of the more unique plants in the plant palette, the Staghorn Fern. The plant can grow on just about anything, anywhere as long as it gets enough moisture from the air and doesn’t get too much sun. Can you think of anything more amazing than an epiphyte that can happily grow completely suspended in the air?” - Shaun Hebert, Horticulture Manager,
“My favorite plant is buddleia davidii also known as “butterfly bush.” It starts off small, then grows into a beautiful bush/tree that attracts butterflies throughout the year. - Deanna Eckholdt, Corporate Special Event, The Plant Gallery
How did you learn to garden?
“I learned gardening as a young child from my father. He grew everything but mostly vegetables and herbs, and because my mother was Italian he grew a whole lot of tomatoes. She did not garden but she learned how to preserve everything we grew and we ate well throughout the year. That was passed on to me and the reason why I like to grow vegetables today. That is why I love the fresh food movement that is going on across America.” - Susan L. Capley, Education Director, New Orleans Botanical Garden
“I am still learning how to garden. It never ends. It’s just a love for the outdoors and seeing what plants work where, a trial and error all the time.” - Tucker Bantom, Manager, Perino’s Garden Center
Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katharine White.
The Impressionist Garden by Derek Fell
Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education by Michael Pollan