For the Garden: Louisiana Natives

Master Gardener Ann Barnes’ backyard wildlife habitat and native plants

A hungry toad eats a plump slug, a sparrow devours a wiggly worm and ladybugs munch on aphids as a black snake slithers through an Uptown garden. From her porch, Ann Barnes watches all of the action with sheer delight.

Barnes’ yard is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat and it abounds with life, color and intoxicating fragrances.

“She a master naturalist, an avid and knowledgeable pollinator and perennial gardener and has been a Master Gardener since 2011,” says extension agent Joe W. Willis with LSU AgCenter.

She was also active in putting together The Louisiana Native Plant Initiative (LNPI). Since its inception in 2011, the LNPI has collected more than 60 individual species and over 400 individual collections of native plants. To look at Barnes’ yard you might think she has all of them growing within the cast iron fence that surrounds her stately home built in 1910 on a large triple lot.

It’s brimming with Mexican petunias, witch hazel trees, swamp sunflowers, native persimmons trees, bronze fennel and dozens of pots filled with herbs. She also has the largest collection of salvia in the state consisting of 80 different varieties.

Early on in her gardening ventures Barnes had a rose garden full of old-time roses. But she lost almost all of her plants when the garden took on two feet of flood water from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“So I made the decision to purposely plant a wildlife garden,” Barnes says. “To thrive wildlife needs three things: food, water and shelter. I also choose things that bloom over a long period and at different times of the year.”

Barnes believes gardeners are the most generous people on the face of the earth and says she gardens because she simply can’t help it.

“My husband sometimes shakes his head when he opens the water bill but I tell him, ‘you’re lucky — I could be buying a lot of antiques instead’.”


HINT

Barnes believes a new plant or tree is just like a newborn baby and should be treated as such. “It needs nurturing and tender care,” she says. “It should get water on a regular basis and be kept from too much stress.”


EVENTS

Wreath Making with Amy Graham
Longue Vue Gardens / 488-5488 / Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to noon
Tickets are $65 and they include all the supplies.
The workshop will be led by Director of Horticulture Amy Graham.

Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes
City Park Botanical Garden / 483-9488 / Jan. 25 at 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
$25 per person
Landscape architect Thomas Rainer will discuss real world strategies for designing multi-layered, colorful and resilient urban plantings. Learn tips about how to select plants for urban conditions, how to prepare the soil, and how to reduce weed pressure. Both practical and inspiring, the talk will focus on an expanded vision of nature in the city.

Rose Propagation
City Park Botanical Garden / 483-9488 / Feb. 15, 10:30 a.m. to noon
$15 per person
Don Hanson, a volunteer and rose enthusiast, will teach how to choose the right rose and make the proper cuttings needed for propagation.


 

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