The garden started in a “straw stand” of pines. Straw stand refers to the small tract of pine trees that bordered strawberry fields in the area more than 50 years ago. The stands were so named because they served the purpose of providing the pine straw that was used to mulch the strawberry crop.
Dr. Neil Odenwald, Louisiana State University Professor Emeritus and co-author of “Southern Plants,” was commissioned to design the garden layout. He laid out beds that curled and curved around the pine trees and envisioned walkways, water features and resting areas nestled under the shade of the tall trees. Staff at the Hammond Research Station began marking out the garden design, installing irrigation lines, hauling soil amendment and preparing the beds.
In September 2006, the first azaleas were planted in the garden. Ms. Margie selected the first group to be planted, and of course, these were her favorite Robin Hill cultivars of which she selected 13. Also included in this first planting were 23 cultivars of Encore azaleas, a nod to the other plant aficionado and breeder from Southeast Louisiana, Robert “Buddy” Lee. Later the Crimson azaleas (Majesty, Queen and Princess) developed by another Louisianan, Richard Odom of Country Pines Nursery, were added to the garden. The size of the garden was doubled in 2007 with the addition of Southern Indian azaleas.
As most people who know Ms. Margie know, her love of plants is not limited to azaleas. We have tried to incorporate this fun and curiosity in the Margie Y. Jenkins Garden. One can find Japanese maples, wisteria, hibiscus, huckleberry, viburnum, osmanthus, lonicera, abelia, styrax, camellia, hosta, itea, illicium, ilex, dianella, leucothoe, aucuba, euonymus, farkleberry and lorepetalum.
Native trees include callicarpa, carpinus, catalpa, cedar, chionanthus (fringe tree), cornus, crataegus (hawthorn), malus, fagus, gordonia, sinojackia (jacktree), nyssa, beschorneria (false red agave), halesia (silverbell), acer, quercus, lespedeza, mryica, persimmon, sassafras, silverbell, aleurites (tung oil), ulmus and prunus. Magnolias include Japanese, Southern, ashei, tripetala, macrophylla, and sweetbay.
Spotlighted around a sugar kettle is Ms. Margie’s white Robin Hill azalea selection Freddie. Also one can find nestled among the azaleas such interesting plants as Leucothoe axaillaris Jenkins, named after it’s founder, Ms. Margie.
The Margie Y. Jenkins Azalea Garden is a young garden with a great future. It will be an integral part of the new Landscape Horticulture Research and Extension Center being developed at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station. The plaque at the entrance to the garden best sums up the person for whom the garden was named. “Margie Y. Jenkins… A person with a passion for plants and plant people.” With the establishment of this garden, we will have a continuing feature that will educate people about azaleas and native plants. This garden will be a source of information, an inspiration, a delight to visit… much as Ms. Margie is and has been during her lifetime. "Ms. Margie," as Margie Jenkins is affectionately called, turned 85 years old in 2006 and is still very active in the industry. "We wanted to do something to celebrate the many contributions this dynamic woman has made to horticulture and to the personal development and education of so many horticulturists," said Dr. Regina Bracy, professor and resident coordinator at the station.A Garden Party was hosted in 2006 at the station to honor the lifetime contributions of Ms. Margie. A plaque unveiled at the garden party characterized Ms. Margie as a person with a passion for plants and plant people. Over $53,000 in cash and in-kind donations were given due to the generosity of those interested in establishing the garden. Currently two azalea collections -- Robin Hill and Encore -- are planted in the garden along with Japanese maples, viburnums and magnolias. A collection of Indica azaleas were recently added in fall 2007.The Margie Y. Jenkins Azalea Garden is part of the new Landscape Horticulture Research and Extension Center being constructed at the station. "With the establishment of the garden, we will have a continuing feature that will educate people about azaleas and native plants. This garden will be a source of information and inspiration, much like Ms. Margie has been."
Send to friend