The blooming beauties are coming. They will create a masterpiece of colors trumpeting spring time in Shreveport-Bossier: Louisiana’s Other Side.
The bright pink, purple, white, yellow, red, orange and bi-colored hues of azaleas, sometimes referred to as “the royalty of the garden,” at R. W. Norton Art Gallery will take your breath away. The stunning roses at the Gardens of the American Rose Center will also demand that you stop and smell the proverbial roses.
Norton is free to the public. Be sure and visit when you have time to leisurely take in the museum and gardens. In spring the gardens outside are as much masterful works of art as the extensive original pieces of American and European art inside the museum.
“One of the biggest things we want people to understand is there is always color out in the gardens,” said Jennifer Defratis, tour and special events coordinator at the Norton. “We’re always working on a new project and always finding ways to add color.”
The newest garden is called Maple Ridge and the newest tour is the Greco-Roman Outdoor Tour, 2 p.m., April 2. “We will experience the beauty of nature and share a lot of stories. Many plants derive their names from Greek mythology, and we will be exploring that,” Jennifer said.
Groups of 10 or more can arrange garden tours at anytime. They just need to call in advance and schedule a time.
Of all the garden beauties, the azaleas stand out landing the museum and gardens as one of the South’s favorite haunts in Southern Living magazine. The bountiful gardens, on 40 landscaped acres, feature more than 15,000 plants, including about 100 native and hybrid varieties of azalea. Native iris, ginger lily, coneflower, canna lily, and black-eyed Susan adorn the gently rolling terrain amid small streams tumbling over rocks and waterfalls. A large ornamental pond sits in the center of it all. The two-mile walking paths are stroller accessible.
Be your own judge of how beautiful the gardens are at the Norton. Check out a slideshow, by clicking here (http://www.rwnaf.org/gardens/)
Equally impressive and worth a visit, is the spectacular Gardens of the American Rose Center, the nation’s largest park dedicated to roses, situated on a 118-acre wooded tract in Greenwood. It’s also home to the national headquarters of the American Rose Society.
Today, the American Rose Center features more than 65 individual rose gardens and 20,000 rosebushes, a variety of companion plants, sculptures and fountains. Its newest feature is the Dudley G. Watkins Reflection Pool. Conceived as a quiet, contemplative area, the pool and surrounding elements are a magnificent entrance to the Hardtner Chapel and rose gardens beyond.
The gardens feature vignettes of possible backyard rose garden designs that could be easily replicated. Some of the features include sculptures, water features, benches for resting or reflection, garden structures, a chapel, carillon that chimes on the hour, a prayer and meditation garden, picnic tables and playground for children.
Rose Center Executive Director Jeff Ware said it’s hard to have favorites. “Personally, my favorite is whatever is blooming at the time,” he said. “However, I am a real fan of yellow roses. I love all of the yellow cultivars, especially Julia Child and St. Patrick.”
The official rose bloom season is April 1 through the end of October. For hours of operation and admission prices click here, (http://www.ars.org/?page_id=25).
To download a map with directions to the rose center click here (http://www.ars.org/pdfs/directionalmap.pdf).