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A new beginning for the Burden Center

Burden Center plan
The Master Plan for the Burden Center.
Orangerie at the Burden Center. (Photo by John Wozniak)
Master Gardeners
Master Gardeners at the Burden Center. (Photo by Mark Claesgens)
Trees and Trails
Trees and Trails at the Burden Center. (Photo by John Wozniak)
The gardens at Burden Center are open for public viewing from 8 a.m. to dusk every day but Christmas and New Year's. (Photo by John Wozniak)
Situated in the heart of Baton Rouge, the Burden Center offers people a way to enjoy plants and the environment and learn about their importance to physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

LSU AgCenter scientists and extension specialists conduct programs on horticultural, agronomic, coastal and wetlands plants. The purpose is to:
–Develop sustainable plants, landscapes, woodlands and wetlands through research.
–Make results of the research accessible to the public through tours, fairs, fests and field days.
–Bring people back to nature by providing a diversity of green places and special facilities to create a community and commune with nature.

Situated on a tract of 440 acres of green space in Baton Rouge, Burden Center is composed of destinations and points of activity that reflect the past, present and future of Louisiana agriculture. The LSU Rural Life Museum represents the 18th and 19th century plantation era in Louisiana history. The present and future are represented by the LSU AgCenter Burden Center, which is home to research and outreach facilities including turfgrass, ornamentals, vegetable and fruit crops, wetlands and coastal planting, urban forestry and native plants. maintain formal and informal gardens and an urban forest. The Burden Botanical Garden comprises the All-America Rose Garden, All-America Selections Garden, Stone Camellia Gardens, Herb Garden, Children’s Garden, the Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie, the Ione Burden Conference Center, Burden Woods, Trees and Trails, Barton Arboretum and Windrush Gardens.

At the Burden Center, researchers and extension specialist conduct programs at two facilities; the Food and Fiber Research Facility and the Ornamental, Turf and Coastal Research Facility.

Sweet potatoes
Sweet potato researchers at the Burden Center are studying host-plant resistance to sweet potato weevils and banded cucumber beetles. Other research includes screening lines from the AgCenter breeding program for resistance to major diseases and determining the role of viruses in the decline in yield and quality of sweet potato varieties.

Fruits and vegetables
Other researchers use the facility to evaluate performance of varieties of strawberries, mahaws, figs, peaches and pawpaws while vegetable studies include tomato variety performance and new technologies and practices to improve the profitability for small and medium-scale fresh-market producers.

Sustainable vegetable production
Sustainable agriculture research includes organic vegetable production, summer and winter cover crops, production practices and variety trials. Extension demonstration projects feature field days and organic vegetable production demonstrations.

Ornamental research includes research on production of woody, herbaceous annuals and perennials and landscape maintenance and management.

The turfgrass research program focuses on erosion control, non-point source pollution and native grasses. The model garden at Burden Center will provide Louisiana’s educators a place to learn about gardening as well as educational and nutritional activities that tie a garden to the state curriculum. This model garden will also provide a location for youth related organizations and individual families to experience outdoor education focusing on vegetable, herb, and butterfly garden plantings. Activities will be tied to the Louisiana Grade Level Expectations (La GLE’s).

Coastal Restoration
This programs work is based on selection of improved coastal plants for enhanced establishment and growth to prevent coastal erosion and stabilization of the Gulf Coast.

Outreach programing at Burden Center is primarily conducted through the Botanical Gardens, which are made up of several specialty gardens that serve as the foundation for providing educational programing in horticulture and the environment. The garden is free and open to the public seven days a week.

Camellia Gardens

Complementing Steele Burden’s original plantings, 450 identified camellia varieties from the private collection of Violet Stone in and were planted in the gardens according camellia type. Currently the collection includes the Stone Progeny, Higo, Orientals, and Sasanquas. This collection continues to grow as new introduction are added.

All-America Rose Garden
Burden Center is a member of All-America Rose Selection’s nationwide network of approved public gardens. AARS public gardens contain a minimum of 800 rose bushes and offer special displays of outstanding new varieties chosen by AARS for their beauty, novelty and vigor.

All-America Selections Garden
The All-America Selections Display Garden highlights annual herbaceous ornamentals and vegetables from the current and past All-America Selection list. Other plants highlighted in this garden are some of the Louisiana Super Plants along with other annuals and perennials considered suitable for growing in the Gulf South. Plant selections are rotated each fall and spring so that new selections can be added.

Ginger Garden
The Ginger Garden showcases ornamental gingers that have been collected from Southeast Asia and can be used in the landscapes of the Gulf South.

Children’s Garden/Le Jardin des Enfants
The children’s garden provides Louisiana’s educators a place to learn about gardening as well as educational and nutritional activities that tie a garden to the state curriculum. This model garden also provides a location for youth related organizations and individual families to experience outdoor education focusing on vegetable, herb, and butterfly garden plantings. Activities are tied to the Louisiana Grade Level Expectations.

Herb Garden
Capitalizing on the proximity of the medical complexes of Our Lady of the Lake and Baton Rouge General, and the growing interest in medicinal herbs, the Herb Garden is a teaching and demonstration garden with a focus on the medicinally useful plants that are indigenous to our region and those brought here by early settlers.

Burden Woods
The Burden Woods covers approximately 150 acres of the Burden Center’s 440 acres and is primarily a bottomland hardwood forest. The dominant overstory plants are sweet gum, sycamore, cypress, black willow, water oak, red maple, overcup, willow, water and swamp chestnut, shellbark hickory, hackberry, and elm. A rain-fed wetland called the ‘Black Swamp’ lies at the northern end of the trail system with 200 year old tupelos. The Burden Woods is alos home to Trees and Trails, a trail system that was part of Steele Burden’s vision to provide the community with access to and urban forest. The Burden Woods incurred extensive damage during Hurricane Gustav and the woods are currently being restored with the help of the Baton Rouge community.

Trees & Trails
Trees and Trails is approximately 5 miles of pedestrian, recreational and educational trails located at Burden Center, which consists of 440 acres in the heart of Baton Rouge. Trees and Trails was opened to the public in October 2009. Trees and Trails was designed to support a variety of pedestrian activities including hiking, interpretive and educational activities for youth and adults, adventure and discovery. This trail system provides a framework for nature experiences with educational areas, while at the same time accommodating the need of the general public for access to a safe outdoor environment. Outdoor classrooms have been implemented to bring students in touch with the natural world, the importance of maintaining ecosystems in an urban environment and the cultural heritage of our region. Trees and Trails was built with the intent of increasing opportunities for youth in urban and community forest programs and educating teachers, school children and other youth (e.g., 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts) in the urban forest. Schools and organizations at all age levels are encouraged to come and enjoy Trees and Trails both as an educational and fitness opportunity. The trail system is open from 8 a.m. to dusk every day of the year except Christmas and New Year’s Day. The Burden Horticulture Society provides a docent-led program using Project Learning Tree for school children grades fourth through eighth.

Barton Arboretum
The existing Barton Arboretum, which includes groves of native trees, a meadow, pond andgazebo, is dedicated to Scott Duchein Barton, wife of John Barton, who was a lifelong friend of Steele Burden.

Ione E. Burden Conference Center
The conference center was built in memory of Ione E. Burden and her love for education. The conference center houses the headquarters offices and it has a conference room that will comfortably seat 120 people in an interment setting of exposed beams and stained glass windows.

Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie
The orangerie was designed by A. Hayes Town, a longtime friend of Steele Burden. The building was built as a memorial to Steele in recognition for his landscape contributions to LSU and the surrounding region. Warren Meadows, past Resident Director and Malcolm Tucker who worked with Steele for many years, helped organize the building of the organerie through the support of numerous friends of Steele Burden. The orangerie includes a conference/catering room with maximum capacity of 15 persons and a beautiful atrium which will hold 95 persons.

Burden Center Organizations

Burden Center is home to several horticulture related organizations who provide education and outreach opportunities to the surrounding community and help support Burden Center.

Burden Horticulture Society
The Burden Horticultural Society is a strategic partner in fulfilling the goals of the Burden Center Master Plan, including developing garden collections that reflect the heritage of south Louisiana and establishing focused gardens; greenhouses; and training and support facilities that will provide a complete horticultural education experience for the general public. In concert with the Burden Center Master Plan, the mission of BHS is to enhance and promote the Burden Center and its serene environment for the benefit of the public through educational programs, fundraising, and volunteerism. The Society hosts several annual events at Burden Center including ‘A Brush with Burden’, ‘Arbor Day at Burden Center’, ‘Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch’ and ‘Burden Center Music Series’. It conducts educational programing which includes ‘Trees and Trails/Project Learning Tree’ and a monthly lunch and learn, ‘Reflections in the Garden’. The Society also hosts ‘Wine and Roses’, its annual fund raiser.

Master Gardeners
The East Baton Rouge Parish Master Gardeners whose home-base is Burden Center, operate a number of volunteer activities related to master gardener training and the propagation and an annual plant sale.

Camellia Society
The Camellia Society helps maintain the Stone Camellia collection, conducts educational programing based on camellias including an annual camellia show and propagates and grafts camellias for sale and expanding the camellia collection.

Windrush Gardens
Windrush Gardens are the life’s work of Steele Burden, a legendary landscape architect in the Gulf South. Steel’s was naturally artistic and worked in several media, from painting to sculpting. As a young man, Steele toured the important gardens of Europe, and he also had the opportunity to see and work in some of the surviving gardens of 19th century Louisiana plantations. Both of these earlier garden types influenced his approach to garden design and his love for statuary in his gardens. Windrush Gardens was Burden’s personal laboratory for garden design where he worked on expanding and refining his masterpiece from his twenties until his death in 1995. Windrush Gardens are accessed through the Rural Life Museum located adjacent to the gardens.

Rural Life Museum
Along with the AgCenter’s research and demonstration activities, LSU A&M operates the Rural Life Museum in a 16-acre corner of the Burden Center. Through its extensive collection of tools, utensils, furniture and farming equipment, the museum preserves and interprets an important part of the state’s and nation’s rural heritage. The museum also serves as a research facility for LSU students engaged in heritage conservation studies.

Master Plan
A master plan for Burden Center was completed in 2009 that honors the legacy of the Burden Family and provides a unified vision for the future that combines both research and extension activities. Highlights of the master plan are a new Outreach and Education building that will house the East Baton Rouge Parish Extension Office, a new conference center, three Children’s Gardens, a Culinary Garden and the Louisiana Garden Center; an educational center for local and state horticultural organizations. Expansion of the Barton Arboretum will feature specimen cultivated, woody ornamentals. The plan also includes expanding the trail system and adding a boardwalk that will overlook a 10 acre wetland observed from Burdens Bluff and continue along the Wards Creek Meanders. Through the support associated horticulture organizations, the LSU AgCenter, Burden Foundation and the LSU Foundation, Burden Center is moving forward with a Capital Campaign, A Destination for Generations, to provide funding to continue to enhance this unique facility.

The LSU AgCenter is one of 11 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research and extension programs that contribute to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through nutrition education and 4-H youth, family and community programs.


Last Updated: 3/19/2012 10:11:05 AM

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