Cindy Jordan is a Master Gardener and owner of Sugar Magnolia Landscaping in the Acadiana area.

This article applies to:



A Walk in the Wild
by Cindy Jordan    

The landscape has changed drastically in the last five years.
(Top) The landscape before the gardens were installed.

This garden was designed to attract wildlife.

Andrea Rubinstein moved to Louisiana from the San Francisco Bay area in 2004. Her new Lafayette home came with several mature camellias and azaleas scattered throughout the yard, a yaupon holly hedge hiding the front porch and a white rail fence along the sidewalk. “There wasn’t much more to the landscaping when I moved into the house,” says Andrea.

She wanted to use native plants, flowers and trees to attract wildlife to her garden. She installed garden beds to envelop the house, with the only lawn being the pathways in between the beds. Before planting, Andrea did her homework. “I had Bill Fontenot make suggestions of what to include in my garden,” she says. Following the local plant guru’s advice, she included coneflowers, Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica), beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) and Turk’s cap (Malvaviscus arboreus drummondii). She also consulted a local native plant nursery, Raintree Garden Center and Wild Birds Unlimited to ensure she selected the right plants to attract birds and butterflies. “Another great resource was the National Wildlife Federation website,” she says, “which provides criteria for setting up a wildlife habitat in your garden.”

‘Old Blush’ rose

She also carries a passion for old garden roses. Andrea introduced the native swamp rose, ‘Duchesse de Brabant,’ ‘Old Blush’ and a stunning specimen of the ‘Peggy Martin’ rose – also known as the “Katrina” rose – into her yard. She wrapped ‘Peggy Martin’ around the original white rail fence and up a post on her porch. “When it blooms in spring, it’s beautiful!” she says.

A couple of years ago Andrea became interested in heirloom bulbs and she ordered a wide variety from Old House Gardens, the heirloom bulb specialists. “I ordered a bunch of daffodils and I just love it when they bloom in early springtime,” Andrea says. “I also got some Byzantine gladiolas and put them all around the garden. I like how you forget about them until it’s their time to put on a show.”

Cheery heirloom daffodils are a sign that spring has arrived.

Byzantine gladiolas and Gaillardia provide a bright burst of color.

Amaryllis is a real showstopper in this garden.

Oenothera speciosa or pink evening primrose is allowed to self-sow in Andrea’s garden.

‘Homestead Purple’ verbena and salvia are a nice combination in the garden.

She also has a stunningly beautiful collection of amaryllis that stops traffic when it blooms in April. One area of the garden contains a wonderful planting in which she has mixed the amaryllis with pink indigo bush (Indigofera miniata). When the indigo is just awakening from dormancy, the amaryllis put on their show, and once the dramatic red blooms are done, the indigo takes over to offer delicate pink blooms with wispy, fernlike foliage.

A favorite wildflower is Oenothera speciosa or pink evening primrose, which she found out about through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Texas. It tends to reseed prolifically, but Andrea loves its independence and beauty. She has also included several rudbeckia and purple coneflowers, which she lets go to seed to add new baby plants each year to her garden. Ornamental grasses round out the garden, offering unique texture and movement to the landscape.

Andrea mixes ornamental plants with functional ones, too. What was once a hedge of old hollies hiding her front porch is now a highly visible and accessible herb and vegetable bed. It fits in quite nicely next to the ‘Peggy Martin’ rose, irises, salvias and various other bulbs and plants. She notes, “I love that I can walk out of my front door and harvest fresh vegetables and herbs all year long.”

Herbs and veggies are intermixed with ornamental plants.

What was once a tired landscape in need of some TLC is now a beautiful and bountiful wildlife habitat – and the newly retired Rubinstein gets to fully enjoy the fruits of her labor.

From Louisiana Gardener Issue XII Volume IX. Photos courtesy of Cindy Jordan.


Posted: 12/26/12   RSS | Print


Share this story on:
Facebook       Twitter            

Other People Are Reading