Inside look at the six-figure metamorphosis of the BREC Botanical Garden | Entertainment/Life

Although located next to the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library and surrounded by busy sports fields, BREC’s 27-year-old botanical garden in Independence Park is perhaps one of the city’s best-kept secrets. the region.

“A lot of times people will say, ‘Oh, I’ve never been there’ or ‘I didn’t really know it was here,'” said Claire Fontenot, the garden’s volunteer coordinator. “He’s been there a long time.”

It’s a good time to get to know each other. Or renewed.

BREC spent $800,000 to expand and renovate the Botanical Garden.

The grand opening will be on Saturday, May 12, and those interested in checking it out can attend the 24th Annual Spring Plant Sale and Garden Show from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 at The Garden, 8750 Independence Blvd.

BREC money was spent on, among other things, demolition, landscaping and landscape construction, lighting, grading, subsurface drainage and irrigation, said Cheryl Michelet, director of communications for the Parish Parks and Recreation Commission.

A new feature is a parterre garden – a formal garden set in geometric patterns with surrounding hedges of grasses and flowers. The hedges are small and even as they grow they will be short enough that visitors can easily see over them. Small towers designed like oil derricks provide night lighting. The garden features a granite gritstone fountain donated by the Baton Rouge Botanical Garden Foundation.

An arch has been installed over a section of walkway that will eventually be clad in Confederate jasmine to form an entrance arbor, Fontenot said. Plants donated by Southern Living magazine line the walkway to the library. A lawn separates the walkway from the garden from the parterre.

The Butterfly Garden has been moved and the Botanical Garden is also home to a variety of fruit trees.

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“We have to feed the birds,” Fontenot said.

Numerous loropetalum, holly, azaleas, ferns, false indigo and other landscape plants remain throughout the year. And while much of what grows at the Botanical Garden will be familiar to local garden enthusiasts, that’s not always the case, Fontenot said. Take cleyera.

“It’s a very unused factory, especially in Baton Rouge,” she said. “People use Indian hawthorn, but it’s a more stable plant. You don’t want it on the sidewalk, but it blooms and it looks pretty.

The Saturday plant sale will be held near the newly renovated children’s play area, and vendors will sell herbs, butterfly and hummingbird plants, begonias, roses, camellias, carnivorous plants, ferns, vegetables, bedding plants and shrubs.

Botanical Garden volunteers will have daylilies, Louisiana irises and gingers for sale, with proceeds going towards improving the gardens.

The sale is a good time to see Louisiana irises in bloom, as their brief blooming season is coming to an end.

“It’s the best time of year for irises,” Fontenot said. “In another month, the daylilies will bloom. Roses probably another two or three weeks, they will be at their best.

On May 12, the Daylily Garden Tour takes place with the inauguration of the new garden space, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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