Research Station Profile

LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden Profile

LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden is located on Essen Lane at I-10.

4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809
Phone: 225-763-3990
Fax: 225-763-3993
Office Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Sunday


Burden: Baton Rouge jewel dedicated to horticulture research and extension
The Botanic Gardens at Burden is a unique part of the LSU AgCenter that conducts both research and outreach on horticultural, agronomic, coastal and wetlands plants as part of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station and Extension Service. The Mission of Burden is to promote the importance of plants and their environment to the physical, mental and well-being of the citizens of Baton Rouge, the state of Louisiana, and the world. The mission is accomplished through a three pronged approach:

– Performing research and facilitating the research of others to develop sustainable plants, landscapes, woodlands and wetlands.

– Educating the community through demonstration of the value of this research by enabling direct access to public.

– Bringing people back to nature by providing a diversity of green places and special facilities to engage in conversation, create a community and commune with nature.

Situated on a tract of 440 acres of green space in the heart of Baton Rouge, Botanic Gardens at Burden is composed of destinations and points of activity that reflect the past, present and future of agriculture in Louisiana. 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's Botanic Gardens at Burden, which is home to several research and outreach facilities that include turfgrass, ornamentals, vegetable and fruit crops, wetlands and coastal planting, urban forestry and native plants, formal and informal gardens and an urban forest. The Burden Botanical comprises forested green space with walking trails, 15 acres of formal garden (Windrush Garden), the Ione E. Burden Conference Center, the Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie, The Pavilion, the All-America Rose Garden, the All-America Selections Garden, the Vi & Hank Stone Memorial Camellia Collection, Children's Garden, Ginger Garden, Herb Garden, Trees and Trails, Barton Arboretum and Rural Life Museum.

Research focus:

  • Horticulture
  • Vegetable crops
  • Fruit crops
  • Ornamentals, including container and greenhouse nursery crops, and annual and perennial bedding plants trials
  • Demonstration research – rose kinds and varieties, crape myrtle varieties, gingers
  • Turf research
  • Medicinal plant research

Windrush Gardens

Windrush Gardens are the life's work of Steele Burden, a legendary landscape architect in the Gulf South. Steele 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 20s until his death in 1995. Windrush Gardens are accessed through the Rural Life Museum.

Master Plan

A master plan for the Botanic Gardens 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 of associated horticulture organizations, the LSU AgCenter, the Burden Foundation and the Botanic Gardens, a team of AgCenter scientists comprised of horticulturists, entomologists, plant pathologists and a plant breeder conduct field trials at the Botanic Gardens as part of their protocol to develop new varieties of sweet potatoes that are more genetically stable, productive and pest-resistant. These efforts have played a vital role in the development and release of Beauregard, Bienville and Evangeline as significant new sweet potato varieties.

Food and Fiber Research Facility

Sweet potatoes – Sweet potato researchers at the Botanic Gardens 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 demonstration.

Ornamental, Turf and Coastal Research Facility

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

Turf – The turfgrass research program focuses on erosion control, nonpoint-source pollution and native grasses. The model garden at the Botanic Gardens 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. GLEs).

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


Outreach programming is conducted through the Botanical Gardens by AgCenter extension personnel and associated organizations. The Garden Fest at Burden is an annual field day for producers and the general public, highlighting the horticulture research conducted at the Botanic Gardens.

Botanic Gardens

The Botanic Gardens is made up of several specialty gardens that serve as the foundation for providing educational programming in horticulture and the environment. The gardens are 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 were planted in the gardens according to camellia type. Currently the collection includes the Stone Progeny, Higo, Orientals and Sasanquas. This collection continues to grow as new introductions are added.

All-America Rose Garden – The Botanic Gardens 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 Selection 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 Botanic Gardens' 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 also home to Trees and Trails, a trail system that was part of Steele Burden's vision to provide the community with access to an 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 and Trails – Trees and Trails is approximately 5 miles of pedestrian, recreational and educational trails loca

ted at the Botanic Gardens. The trail was designed to support a variety of pedestrian activities including hiking, interpretive and educational activities for youth and adults, adventure and discovery. We welcome and encourage schools and organizations at all age levels to come and enjoy Trees and Trails, both as an educational and a fitness opportunity.

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

Future Plans

Burden Center will continue to function primarily as a research facilitation unit dedicated to research activities on horticultural crops, including fruits, vegetable, ornamentals and turf grass. In addition to field plots, greenhouses and nursery areas, Burden Center has many more assets that can and are being used for teaching, research and service activities. These include Windrush Gardens, 200 acres of forested green space containing several miles of nature trails (Trees & Trails), the All-America Rose Selection Display Garden, the All-America Selections Garden, the Vi and Hank Stone Memorial Camellia Collection, the Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie, the ornamental ginger garden, the Barton Arboretum and Memorial Live Oak Garden, and the LSU Rural Life Museum.

When implemented, a major master plan developed in 2009 will connect all these elements that make up Burden Center into a unified destination that provides a welcoming and engaging experience for those who conduct research and extension work and for those who visit its public spaces. This master plan also will create a 43-acre gateway into Burden and what will be the Center for Urban Horticulture. This urban horticulture center will serve as a state-of-the-art Master Gardener teaching facility and will contain many demonstration gardens displaying the latest research findings for growing horticultural plants.

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Last Updated: 9/11/2015 3:18:10 PM

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point of contact
Kuehny, Jeff S.
C.P. Hegwood
LSU AgCenter