Primal man knew to protect his patch of green even if that patch was just alongside a nomad’s campfire or in front of a cave. As man developed so too did his desire for territory on which he could cultivate crops, raise animals and provide for just about all of his needed sustenance. For the subspecies of modern man classified as the urban dweller, the patch of green is still important – though its role is more therapeutic and less agrarian. Instead of plowing their fields, male urban dwellers now tinker in their yards. Pestilence, invasions and floods sometimes altered the land of early man. For the New Orleans male the first two have caused no problem, the latter is still being dealt with. Yet through high water and low it’s in the nature of man to project his turf and if it looks nice, so much the better.
Coordinated by Bonnie Warren
PhotoGRAPHS by Theresa Cassagne

Men and their YardsRoy Giarina

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Biologist
“A full shade garden became a full sun garden with one swoop when Hurricane Katrina downed our yard-encompassing pecan tree. The challenge was to recreate a terrestrial oasis from the burned flora and broken patio. Variety became our theme. We wanted lush subtropical in the yard and a desert biome on the balcony. We draw regenerative energy relaxing among our ongoing creations and love sharing moments with friends and neighbors in our yard.”

Men and their YardsAlbert Brown
Salon Owner
“My love for plants began as a teenager. I delivered plants for a classmate’s dad to the ‘5 & 10 cent’ stores. Thanks to the guidance and direction of Beverly Katz, we designed and implemented three gardens: formal, English and tropical. We do a lot of living in our tropical garden, from reading and listening to music to barbecuing. Yellow flowers, my wife’s favorites, are found everywhere. Gardening has been my most soothing and gratifying pastime.”

Men and their YardsLeslie “Les” White
University of New Orleans Professor
“I lost my low-maintenance landscaping to the flood and fretted for two years over the barren, embarrassing front spaces. I am not a gardener but in early June, I went to Harold’s, laid down the card and stuck some plants in the ground. One of the plots has brought nice colors but the other is struggling. I keep tending and putting plants in but I don’t have any real passion for gardening … yet.”

Men and their YardsEric Hess
Owner, Hess Marketing and Advertising
“When I developed my garden I wanted to create a natural sanctuary where people can escape and enjoy the wonders of nature and all its complexity. Everyone needs a special place where they can go and relax. A garden is a reflection of the gardener who created it. I would like to think my garden brings beauty and a sense of peace to those who visit it.”

Men and their YardsMark Schroeder

“The only thing our mid-century modern home was missing was a view. So I set out to create one by building a wall of palm trees and tropical vegetation around my entire backyard. I wasn’t satisfied until I had completely blocked out the outside world. I now have my own Tahitian garden of Eden to escape to. One advantage to using tropical foliage is that most of my garden survived the floodwaters.”

Men and their YardsMiles Lewis
Shipping Company Executive
“At first I didn’t hear the siren’s song. With my new home came a garden that lay fallow. After much work and many months I began to see progress. Now, many years have passed and the work continues. Today, I hear the song and look forward to working in my garden and deriving the solace and comfort of plants in bloom.”

Men and their YardsArnie Fielkow
New Orleans City Councilmember at Large
“I love the fact that New Orleans is a city of beautiful gardens. My contribution is to make sure our yard is maintained and neat – my neighbors’ gardens provide the real beauty, so I make sure my garden doesn’t detract from theirs! There aren’t enough hours in my days to get out and work in our garden but that doesn’t keep me from admiring gardens full of blooming flowers around me. The rich vegetation in our city constantly reminds me of our wonderful mild climate and all that snow I left behind.”

Men and their YardsNorman Robinson
WDSU-TV Anchor
“Eight feet of water destroyed our beautiful garden in Eastern New Orleans. It was devastating since gardening has been my therapy for many years. In February we found a great historic Victorian house in Algiers Point. It had a well-kept garden that immediately caught my eye. Donna Johnson, my wife’s childhood friend and a talented landscape designer, helped us add many new blooming plants and flowers. I’m back in the garden and loving it.”

Men and their YardsMichael “Mike” Mitchel
“I love everything about working in my yard – digging weeds, planting, deadheading. But most of all I love pruning. We have a huge oak in our backyard and whenever we have to remove a limb. I cut it up for firewood to burn in our fireplace. Unfortunately, Katrina did a real number on all our careful landscaping. But one good thing came out of it: I have a lot of great firewood.”