WE ARE FAMILY!
Gardens Bring People Together
Individual Ticket $20 (Purchase Online Here, at Hilltop or Any Garden Day of Tour)
Individual Student Ticket W/ID $10 (Purchase at Any Garden Day of Tour)
The Friends of Hilltop Arboretum spring garden tour “WE ARE FAMILY! Gardens Bring People and Plants Together” will be held on Sunday, May 7, 2017 from 1-5pm. The tour will feature gardens in several neighborhoods including Riverbend, Webb Park and Old Goodwood.
Shelley and Matthew Mullenix and Denise Van Schoyck and Terry Tuminello have beautiful gardens and participate in the Riverbend Growers, a group of neighborhood gardeners that share the bounty of their amazing vegetable gardens. Janet and Wayne Forbes attract a large following with their “funky” repurposed art garden in Old Goodwood — you won’t believe the creativity of this dynamic duo! Jan and Van Cox found their dream home and garden on Silliman Drive that includes a palette of old garden plants that are reminiscent of Van’s childhood home site, a collection of 150+ potted plants that have been in the family for 27 years, water features and enriching artifacts from years of travel. Wear comfortable shoes and enjoy a short stroll along the Biking Trail, a real neighborhood amenity at the end of Silliman Drive, spearheaded by the Westdale Civic Association’s Beautification Committee. The trail is short walking distance from the Cox garden and has been recently planted with native, ornamental and fruiting trees.
Riverbend Subdivision is so close to LSU that residents can hear the chimes from the campanile as well as the action at Tiger Stadium during football season. But even in the shadow of the state’s flagship university, there are many dedicated gardeners who have created their own oasis of serenity.
Shelley and Matthew Mullenix
6133 Belle Grove Drive 70820
Photos courtesy of Lucie Monk Carter/Country Roads Magazine
Shelley and Matthew’s vegetable garden occupies about half their modest suburban backyard and lies adjacent to a comfortable outdoor kitchen and living space with a surrounding pebble-and-paver patio that make the yard an inviting extension of their home.
The couple plant in rows of raised beds formed from large, stainless steel cattle troughs sourced at the local hardware store. The original inspiration for their design, which mixes both steel and wine barrel planters, came from a spread in a popular magazine featuring the kitchen garden of a restaurant in rural North Carolina.
“We loved the look,” said Shelly, “And we wanted the garden placed conveniently to our cooking spaces, both indoors and out.” “I needed the beds raised so I wouldn’t put my back out weeding,” added Matt.
The couple grow a variety of vegetables, including pole beans, squash and tomatoes, and favorite kitchen herbs like oregano and parsley. Interspersed with the edible plants grow various ornamental perennial flowers. The garden is watered with two large rain barrels, one featuring an old-fashioned hand-pump that adds some fun to the regular watering chore.
The Mullenix garden is notable as an example of one that could be replicated in virtually any sunny spot in a suburban yard and provide a family with plenty of fresh food to eat and share. And, say the owners, this was precisely its purpose.
Denise Van Schoyck and Terry Tuminello
6236 Riverbend 70820
The Tuminello-Van Schoyck residence features numerous, mature hardwood trees plus a gentle slope that provides a shady backyard retreat. Situated on almost an acre, the lot posed a number of challenges compounded by the hurricanes which periodically altered the best of plans over the 27 years after purchasing the home. A grove of mature camellias, some over 30 years old, cluster under deciduous trees providing color in the cold months and verdant cool in the heat of summer.
A water-fall and stream reminiscent of a favorite autumnal getaway was recreated to emphasis the slope of the land. Plant selection has been eclectic with heavy emphasis on native and naturalized species punctuated by exotics. Down the flagstonepaths, there are places to sit and contemplate as well as a surprise for vegetable garden and fruit orchard enthusiasts’ beyond the garden gate. Here lie many mature fruit trees as well as a large vegetable garden that provides many delicious fresh vegetables and herbs to family, friends and neighbors.
Jan and Van Cox
1525 Silliman Drive 70808
It took almost two-thirds of their 27-year marriage for Jan and Van Cox to find their dream home near Webb Park. In 2006, while the couple was strolling on the Westdale neighborhood bike trail (more on this as it, too, is part of the tour), Jan spotted an estate sale sign and went to shop while Van returned to their home nearby. He soon received a cell phone call from an excited Jan, who simply said, “get over here right away, the house is for sale and you’re going to love it!”
Van immediately agreed as the yard was ringed on 2 sides by large camellia shrubs, originally planted in 1948 (only 2 years after his own father had similarly edged his childhood home site); a mature fig tree on one side of the house obviously of similar vintage; live oak and beech tree in the front yard, a pecan tree in the rear yard (his father was a Pecan Specialist), and numerous other ornamentals—including a sweet olive, large crape myrtle, dozens of ‘dwarf’ gardenia and several ‘Knockout’ and standard roses–worth preserving. In fact, after Jan worked out the purchase and before any plans were drawn up for renovations, Van built two 20’ square ‘nurseries’ in the rear yard—one in the shade and one in the sun—so he could dig up the specimens to keep while the workmen upgraded the house. He also moved their favorite plants from Ormandy so it could be sold once renovations were complete.
Architecturally, they kept the existing footprint of the house, but renovated everything inside and added two porches—front and rear—to expand outside visibility and use and built a covered breezeway to the garage. A rear screened porch became their dining room and floor to ceiling glass windows were replaced and used as sides on a greenhouse constructed in the rear of the garage so their 150+ potted plants can winter over. A small pond was also built near the rear porch to serve as a focal area and a sugar kettle fountain purchased from one of his former students in Lafayette and installed near the front entry as a focal there. There is a small vegetable garden, too, complete with a bottle tree!
The garden in general can be said to feature a collection of plant materials—both native and ornamental; potted and in-ground—and of enriching ceramic, sculptural and just plain interesting artifacts brought back from their travels, “dumpster diving,” and time together (including mosaics by Van). The porches and rear patio serve as stage settings for their collection. While not horticulturists or even great gardeners, everything planted within has been lovingly positioned or re-positioned, with the exception of the existing oak, beech and pecan. Both Jan and Van enjoy strolling around the outside and love discovering the daily or seasonal or daily. Many plants have been moved to multiple locations as a result of experimentation, and while the rear yard is still a ‘work in, it has many unique aesthetic treats!
Westdale Civic Association Bike Trail
Dedicated in the mid-70’s through the efforts of then Councilmen Gus Kinchen and Tommy Neck, the Westdale Civic Association Bike Trail is located in the 80’ wide Hundred Oaks right-of-way between Country Club and College Drives in the Westdale area. Once the 4/10’s of a mile asphalt trail was installed, it became a popular route for neighborhood children to walk to Westdale Elementary School and for adult exercise, as 3 streets dead-end at it from the Webb Park Golf Course side and 3 streets cross it. Some adjacent homeowners maintained areas near their homes, but after numerous hurricanes and storms, many of the mature shade trees were toppled and lack of maintenance resulted in numerous pot holes and damage to the trail.
Through the stewardship of the Westdale Civic Association’s ‘Beautification Committee’, chaired by Jan Shoemaker, a proposal was made to use a $3,000 grant to plant new native, ornamental and fruiting trees along the trail. Committee members landscape architect Van Cox, FASLA, and landscape contractor Bill Rountree volunteered to prepare a plan and aid in implementation. Van inventoried the trail area, prepared preliminary plans for its various segments, and then coordinated with Bill to finalize the plans and select hardy natives and other trees. They initially staked out 97 trees, Bill rounded up the plant material, and a date was set by the Committee on a Saturday between 9:30 am and 1:30 pm to have neighborhood volunteers install the trees.
A terrific storm initially delayed the work, but it was re-scheduled for the following weekend, Saturday, January 28th. Bill persuaded George Bofinger (Bofingers Tree Service), who lives in the area, to pre-dig the holes with an auger, so that volunteers need only ‘fine tune’ the holes dependent upon tree size. Bofinger also provided a truckload of mulch material, along with Clegg’s, who provided pine straw, and Garden District Nursery who donated bagged mulch. Pete Newton provided equipment and Waghalter Group provided metal stakes to protect the trees, a small cart to haul the plant material to the tree sites, and two laborers to help out. Most heartening, was that participants –of all ages, toddler up to senior, came from throughout the Westdale area and brought their own carts, shovels, rakes and other equipment to do the work. Toni and Gus Kinchen also attended and district Councilperson Barbara Freiberg came and helped with the installation. Many adjacent to the trail provided hoses and water to water in the trees once planted. Amazingly, the group succeeded in planting, mulching and staking all 92 trees within the announced time frame!
Janet and Wayne Forbes
7175 Annabelle Avenue 70806
As you walk up the driveway, you are greeted with traditional plantings that do nothing to belie the fun and funk that awaits just past the cast iron sugar kettle. The small patio garden to the left is anchored by three Japanese maples (the prize one being a bonsaied version) and the largest member of our Tom Torrens’ bell collection. To the right is Wayne’s infamous fence adorned with miscellaneous objets d’art ranging from parts of past lawn chairs, a gas heater grill, tractor discs and items dropped off … often in the dead of night … by neighbors and fans of our efforts to “repurpose”. You will also meet “Billy Bob”, our take on the Queen’s Palace Guards fashioned from an old roof turbine vent, a cast iron pot, a paint bucket, and a telephone pole stub. A strange lamp post has been converted into a sprinkler aptly named “Reddy Kilowatt”. (Janet has the ideas; Wayne is charged with the onerous task of figuring out how to make them happen.)
Even before you have passed through the gate leading into the back garden, you will have realized that the magnificent live oak that resides there reigns supreme, dictating that we cater mainly to plants that tolerate shade. Wayne’s workshop is tucked in along the back border and provides yet more space to hang “found” art. Our accidental mini-bog provides a home for some water loving plants and the 12’ foot alligator created from an old hammock stand. The cyclone fence bordering the far side of the garden has recently acquired a wooden fence veneer with spaces allotted for our collection of assorted burglar bars.
You will meet the “Barq’s Man”, who gave new meaning to an old pump salvaged from Emory Smith’s garage, when you exit the back garden to enter our second patio area. It, too, features a wooden fence with cut outs to accommodate some sections of wrought iron salvaged by a neighbor from another neighbor’s trash pile!!! A former fire pit has taken on new life as a pseudo kettle to provide a mini water feature. The remains of a floor furnace vent are now a perch for our collection of bird houses, many of them designed by Hilltop member Margaret Vick. “Haggar the Huggable”, formerly a wood burning smoker, will graciously send you on your way with a fond and heartfelt fare thee well.