Free Bayou Gardens Open House Event, Saturday, February 25

Published 8:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2023

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Free Bayou Gardens Open House will celebrate historic gardens and share tips on gardening to help pollinators and wildlife. Schedule of speakers and activities set.

When: Saturday, February 25, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: at the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges’ Bayou Lacombe Center, 61389 Highway 434, Lacombe, LA 70445.

A full schedule of talks and activities is below.


10 a.m. How to Get Started on Your Native Garden with Tammany Baumgarten of the Native Plant Initiative. Practical advice on gardening with native plants. Discover some of the best plants to start with and how to begin gardening with native plants and make your property better habitat.

11:30 a.m. Meet the Purple Martin with Krista Adams of the Purple Martin Conservation Initiative.  Learn about this beautiful songbird, our largest swallow, and how Louisianans are helping conserve it.

12 p.m. Introduction to Camellias  with Paige Mizell of Mizell’s Camellia Hill Nursery 

A look at camellias’ rich history highlighting the most common species, bloom types, planting, and care tips. Louisiana-developed and popular cultivars will be highlighted, including  Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. That’s right tea comes from a species of camellias!

1 p.m. How to Bee Pollinator Friendly in Your Garden and Yard with beekeeper and St. Tammany Master Gardener Jim Bates  Learn about pollinators and how you can help them in your yard and garden.

Walking Tours: 

9:30 and 11 a.m. 1:30 p.m. The Story Behind the Scenery History Walk The Southeast Louisiana Refuges Bayou Lacombe Center site was once the home of a former Louisiana governor and later a Redemptorist Order seminary. Learn the story behind the scenery of the Bayou Gardens site.

10  a.m. and 2 p.m. Camellia Walk  Join camellia grower Paige Mizell for a stroll in the gardens to look at some of the species of camellias.

10:30 a.m. Walk on the Wild Side Family Nature Walk  Join a ranger to explore nature on a family-friendly nature walk for children.

9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! Story Walk.  A Story Walk is a way for young children to move in nature while enjoying reading. This is a self-directed activity where the pages of a book with a nature theme called “Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barber will be displayed along a trail for you to walk with your young readers. Nature, movement, and reading for a win. This activity is sponsored by St. Tammany Public Library.

Art and Nature: 

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Paint your own watercolor. Penny Wallace Crawford loves nature, gardens, and art and has designed a series of botanical illustrations for you to paint with watercolors. All materials are provided. Make a card to take home!

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Camellia Waxed Flower. Pick up a fresh camellia from the grounds, they naturally fall off the bushes and trees and you will be able to find a perfect bloom on the ground. Dip it in wax for a beautiful keepsake. Waxing station in front of Visitor Center.

Plein Air in the Gardens. Peg Usner is a local plein air artist from St. Tammany Parish who paints the natural beauty of Louisiana. During the event, Peg will be painting on the grounds, so you may see the artist at work! Peg is also a Master Gardener and has been a board member of Keep Mandeville Beautiful for over 20 years, under whose auspices she designed the Butterfly Garden at City Hall.

Children’s Nature Craft.  Bring the kids to the children’s craft table outside the Visitor Center and make a nature-themed craft out of repurposed materials. Adults are welcome too!

Native Plant and Camellia Sale Camellias and a variety of native plants will be on sale in front of the Visitor Center. Plant sale proceeds benefit The Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges Inc. 

Exhibitors: The New Orleans Butterfly Club will display butterfly host and nectar plants. Visit with them and learn about best garden practices to support the monarch migration! Bring your gardening or landscaping questions to the St. Tammany Parish LSU/Ag Agent Answer Clinic and St. Tammany Master Gardener volunteers. Composting and vermicomposting displays and a special bug display for kids with The Bug Guy! 

Full List of Exhibitors: The Bug Guy, Deep South Honey – Beekeeping, Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges Inc., Gulf Coast Phenology Network, Handy Andy Apiaries, Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative, LSU Ext. Ag Center Answer Clinic, New Orleans Butterfly Club, Peg Usner – Plein Air Painter, Purple Martin Conservation Initiative, St. Tammany Master Gardeners, USFWS Fire for Habitat Restoration Display, Wild Ones Pontchartrain Basin. 

This event is hosted  by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges Inc., in collaboration with the St. Tammany Master Gardeners.

More information: 985-882-2015 or email

Full program at


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