Author: Russell McCulley

Vine by Vine

Vines loom large in my memories of childhood –– not just the vines that served as a jungle rapid transit system in those old Tarzan movies but also the muscadines and honeysuckle that grew in my grandmother’s yard; the wild…

KiNdErGaRdEn

Something remarkable is happening in schoolyards and vacant lots across New Orleans. As neighborhoods rebuild, community gardens are expanding or cropping up, many of them tended by local kids. The most prominent, perhaps, is the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans project…

Sweet Nectar

As looks go, the spindly, gangling milkweed isn’t much prettier than its ungainly name. But monarch butterflies find it simply irresistible. Milkweed is the host plant for monarchs; if you plant one, you’ll soon have monarchs swarming around it, feeding…

Not-So-Secret Garden

Flowers are back in bloom at Longue Vue House and Gardens. An Alferez sculpture in the lilly garden at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens. Volunteers in the New Orleans Botanical Gardens. Spring is in full swing, which means now is…

Enduring beauty

When it comes to antique roses, Maureen Detweiler tends to get a little evangelical.“I’m kind of like a missionary,” she says. “And I have a lot of converts.”To underscore her point, Detweiler gestures toward a yard across the street from…

Seeds of Change

For convenience, it’s hard to beat a tray of starter plants, laid out in neat rows and ready for bedding. But there’s something especially rewarding about growing a garden from seeds, even more so if you have children. I remember…

Prickly Heat

If plants could be ascribed personalities, it wouldn’t be difficult to separate the A-list from the rest. You’ve got your tropicals, the extroverts of the garden: showy, charismatic, a little demanding of attention, but eager to please. Most people are…

Sowing the Seeds

My grandparents’ spread in Northeast Texas wasn’t big: less than an  acre, I guess. But to a little kid, it was a self-contained world of adventure. It had a vegetable garden, grape vines and fruit trees—apricot, apple and, my favorite,…

For The Garden: Cultivating Knowledge

As summer enters its most punishing phase, South Louisiana gardens become pretty inhospitable places. People tend to minimize their time in the garden—even the plants sometimes look like they wish they were somewhere else. August is no time to launch…

SMALL SPACES, BIG IDEAS

The Japanese, who know a thing or two about making the most of cramped living conditions, have a word for small-scale gardening: tsuboniwa, or the art of turning a very small courtyard into a sensually appealing space. Tsuboniwa began more…

Home Staging Comes of Age

afterbeforeGetting rid of clutter and making the room's colors more neutral can help sell a home.The old adage about first impressions being the most important is especially apt when it comes to buying and selling a home. For most people,…

For the Garden: pest free, good for the environment

Every gardener knows the pattern: as the summer heats up, plants get stressed, putting most of their energy into producing fruit and flowers and basic survival. Then the insects and other pests move in to take advantage of the situation.It’s…

Stop and Smell—or Eat—the Roses

Ristorante Civello's shrimp Soprano accented with pansies and “red rose cascade.”The first time I ate flowers, aside from an unfortunate incident on a kindergarten playground, was at a public market food stall in Oaxaca, Mexico. The chef—a plump, stern woman…

NEW ORLEANS HOMES & LIFESTYLES: In Full Bloom

Like florists all over town, Nancy Segers was placing orders for Valentine’s Day when most people were still in the throes of the Christmas shopping season. “It’s the one time of year when people who never buy flowers will buy…

Fanning Out

Christmas FernAfter 30 years of growing ferns, Larry Weed can rattle off botanical names and dispense fern care tips with ease. But ask him why he and so many others are obsessed with the plants, and he’s at a bit…

Join the Green Revolution

Ask a convert to sustainable living what motivates them, and theanswer can range from the pragmatic—lower utility bills, for example—tothe environmental, ethical and even spiritual aspects of eco-friendlypractices. Or it can be something simple and personal. Paintings by Allison Stewart…

In Full Bloom

Like florists all over town, Nancy Segers was placing orders for Valentine’s Day when most people were still in the throes of the Christmas shopping season. “It’s the one time of year when people who never buy flowers will buy…

Frank Relle

“New Orleans is a nighttime city,” photographer Frank Relle says, explaining the nocturnal work habits that produce his evocative, unsettling images of houses around the city. “Even if I wanted to take these pictures during the day, I just wouldn’t…

Out on a Limb

There are people who tend to see the glass half empty. Then there are those like John Benton, who can survey storm-battered City Park and notice not what’s missing, but the greenery sprouting all over the place.“People say, ‘oh, look…

Return of the Native

At the Cabildo, you can see this mahogany Louis XV-style armoire made in Louisiana, circa 1810. Photo of Armoire: Skip BolenBarbee Ponder caught the collecting bug early, back in 1991, when visiting estate sales and browsing funky Magazine Street antique…

Campaign Season

Buttons from the 1900 presidential election featuring opponents William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan.Of all the framed photographs and certificates decorating a hallway in Fran Bussie’s Baton Rouge home, one in particular stands out: a snapshot of her husband, Victor,…

High and Dry

Annie Coco has one overriding reason for planting her garden in raised beds: ergonomics.“You don’t have to bend over so far,” says Coco, Tangipahoa Parish county agent and horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter. “That’s the advantage to me.”Good advice for…

BLACK THUMB BLUES

I have a friend—let’s call her Laura—who used to travel a lot for work and would ask me to look after her place while she was gone. The task entailed feeding and watering her two cats and minding the houseplants.…

Passion Flowers

Serious orchid growers tend to refer to their favorite pastime in language more suited to a 12-step program. “It’s an addiction, no question,” says Toni Simmons, owner of Bloomin’ Delights Orchids and a fixture at the Saturday and Tuesday Crescent…

Spring Break

With cooler weather, the threat of hurricanes behind us and the possibility of a hard freeze still months away, November may be the best time to be out in the garden. It’s also the perfect time to take stock, make…

Nature's Way

Fair or not, it’s difficult to separate organic gardening from its hippie connotations. Think organic, and you’re likely to picture something virtuous, sure, but also a little ragged and unruly—a gardening strategy that all but sacrifices order to the obstreperous…