Master Gardeners plant educational garden

Northwest Louisiana Master Gardeners install plants at a new educational garden at the Red River Research Station. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Williams.

Northwest Louisiana Master Gardeners install plants at a new educational garden at the Red River Research Station. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Williams.

By Jennifer Williams, LSU AgCenter Northwest Region area horticulturist

Most people don’t think a lot about working outdoors in December beyond hanging holiday lights, but it is a wonderful time to get gardening projects done — especially with the
unseasonably warm weather we have been experiencing here in the Northwest part of Louisiana. The LSU AgCenter, with the help of the Northwest Louisiana Master Gardeners, was able to start work on a great project to bring a new community and educational garden to the region. The Red River Research Station is the home of this new project, where seven landscape beds have been prepared to plant a selection of plants from the Louisiana Super Plants program.

In October, 11 trees donated by Willis Farm Nursery, located in Doyline, a longtime friend of the LSU AgCenter, were planted at the site.  The trees included the three Super Plant Selections: Evergreen Sweetbay Magnolia, Southern Sugar Maple and Willow Oak.  The beautiful specimens will be a grand addition to the gardens and over the years will begin to provide some nice shade to parts of the gardens for some of our future shade-loving plantings.

Dec. 8 was a grand day at the Red River Research Station.  With the help of LSU
AgCenter’s Dr. Allen Owings (Hammond Research Station) and Dr. Patrick Colyer (Regional Director-Red River Research Station) 12 flats of annuals, more than 40 roses and an additional 60-plus shrubs were installed in the landscape beds.  The NWLAMG volunteers worked at top speed, fighting anthills and high winds to install all of the plant material in under four hours.  Some of the beautiful selections we have currently on display include Amazon Dianthus, ‘Diamonds Blue’ Delphinium, ‘Redbor’ Kale and Camelot Foxgloves, all cool-season bedding plants, and Mesa Gaillardia, a warm-season bedding plant that will establish over the winter for a beautiful show starting in the spring.

The shrubs planted included Drift Roses in Peach, Popcorn (cream with a hint of yellow) and Sweet (a beautiful clear pink color) and ‘Belinda’s Dream’ Rose, ‘Frost Proof’ Gardenia, ‘ShiShi Gashira’ Camellia and ‘Shoal Creek’ Vitex.

Future plans for the gardens will include trial gardens for future Louisiana Super Plants, walkways and seating, and educational events for all ages.  These gardens will be a showcase for the best plants for the Northwest Region and will be a wonderful addition to the community.

More information and an up to date list of Louisiana Super Plants can be found here, or by
contacting your local LSU AgCenter office.

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