Acadiana Gardening Q & A - Book Info
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CREATING ACADIAN-STYLE GARDEN
Gardeners research landscape design and plants for 1870s house and garden
QUESTION: We are hoping to break ground soon on an old-fashioned Acadian-style garden. It will consist of a small barn converted into a 16 x 25-foot rustic Acadian cabin facing a bayou, and a garden area about 30 x 40 feet with four raised beds. I expect to have an arbor for grapes and possibly a water area for birds (if they dont cause too much trouble).
I also plan to put in a watering system and use pea gravel as the base material between the beds. Do you have any ideas on a basic design that may be fitting with gardens of the past. Our home dates from 1870, and it would be nice to keep the period touch and incorporate new gardening concepts.
ANSWER: I am trying not to feel envious. What a fascinating project!
There are several re-creations of rural gardens from that period that are near by and open to the public. The Alfred Mouton Museum on Lafayette Street, for one, as well as Vermilionville on Surrey Street and the Burden Steele Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge. You can gained well-researched ideas about design and plant choices from these gardens.
Bob Smith, Breaux Bridge and New Orleans antique dealer knowledgeable in the material culture of colonial Louisiana, suggests that an Acadian garden of the 1870s would contain farm crops to allow the family to be self-sufficient. These would include brown cotton, several kinds of beans, okra, onions, garlic, peppers, and corn. Fruits might be muscadine grapes and figs.
Ornamental plants might include crepe myrtles, native wood ferns, native white clematis, native Louisiana iris species, several clerodendrons, and cardinal flowers. Some common garden roses of the period were Marechal Niel, Souvenir de la Malmaison , Dutchesse de Brabant, Louis Philippe, Mutabilist, and the climber, Seven Sisters.
There would probably be a picket fence made from cypress, and the raised beds would be bordered with wood timbers, flat 1 x 6 inch planks of cypress.
Havent seen or heard of a jujube tree in years
QUESTION: My mother, who is visiting from Marksville, commented that she never sees any juju trees in Lafayette. I remember them from growing up in Marksville where they were common. They had glossy green leaves and a small fruit like a date.
ANSWER: Your question took me back to my childhood. I remember people knocking at the door to sell buckets of jujubes. I remember eating them but cant remember if we cooked with them.
Ziziphus jujuba, a relatively small (to 30-feet), deciduous tree, has escaped cultivation in the western parishes, which would include Marksville and the rest of Avoyelles Parish. There it propagates rapidly by seeds and suckers. The fruit is grown commercially in China, as well as California, Florida and other warm sections of this country. Somewhat egg-shaped, the red-brown fruit is sweet with an acid, date-like flavor. It matures in late summer, turning a deep maroon to black color.
I have not seen jujube trees in nurseries, but feet sure that you could find them in mail order catalogs.
Beat the heat: finding plants that thrive in Acadianas summer
From Ann: Most serious gardeners have come to appreciate the USDAs Plant Hardiness Zone Map, if only as a guide to avoid plants that need more cold than we can provide. A new concept is the Heat Zone Map, released recently by the American Horticulture Society, which guides gardeners to plants that thrive in specific regions warmest weather.
Time-Life Books has published Heat-Zone Gardening, a guide for using the new map, with nice color photos and an encyclopedia of over 500 commonly used perennials, annuals, plants, trees and shrubs. Check your book store or call 1-800-277-8844.