Hammond Research Station focuses on growing green industry

Regina Bracy, Johnny Morgan, Linda Benedict  | 10/19/2015 12:25:05 AM

Regina Bracy, left, is the resident coordinator at the station. (Photo by Johnny Morgan)

Hammond Research Station pond.(Photo by John Wozniak)

Photo By: John Wozniak

Yan Chen, assistant professor at the Hammond Research Station, explains some of the research findings on insect control for landscape plants at the Landscape Horticulture Field Day. (Photo by Johnny Morgan) (Click on photos to download larger image.)

The Hammond Research Station is one of 16 LSU AgCenter research stations across the state. Nestled in the woods six miles from the city of Hammond, it covers about 150 acres. Established in 1922 as the Fruit and Truck Experiment Station, the station is now focused on the nursery and landscape industry. Research covers such topics as weed control, plant growth regulators and mulches. Scientists evaluate more than 500 ornamentals per year. The station features the largest display of landscape plants in Louisiana. One of the newest programs is Super Plants, an effort to promote plants that grow well in Louisiana to benefit both the nursery industry and make home landscaping a more satisfying experience.

Two 100-year-old oaks greet visitors as they drive through the entrance of the Hammond Station – one of the LSU AgCenter’s most beautifully landscaped stations. And there’s a reason for that. The station serves the needs of the nursery and landscape industry with the latest research-based information on improving the quality of urban and suburban life by focusing on human-affected environments. These oaks are used in urban tree preservation workshops for demonstrating restoration and preservation of historic trees. Other research and educational components at the station include:

Retention Pond, Constructed Wetland
This water feature adds an aesthetic drama to the entry of the station and also serves as a demonstration and research area on how landscape runoff can be reduced and how landscape pollution can be mitigated. The ability of landscape plants to remove (bio-filter) nitrogen and phosphorus from runoff water is being evaluated for recommendation in stormwater mitigation systems. Cages currently located in the pond contain submerged plant species that are being evaluated.

Shade and Understory Garden
One of the best assets of the Hammond Station is an established pine forest. This mature pine stand provides an important natural environment duplicated across Louisiana. This area offers tremendous potential for research and demonstration in use of shade and understory plantings and preservation of wild land. Plant introduction, adaptability and sustainability will be study topics for this area.

Margie Y. Jenkins Azalea Garden
This garden was established in 2006 to provide a continuing feature to educate people about azaleas and native plants. It is named for Margie Y. Jenkins and recognizes the enormous contribution of “Ms. Margie” in promoting azaleas and native plants to the Green Industry. The garden includes Robin Hill, Encore, Crimson and Southern Indica families of azaleas. More than 50 different species of native trees and shrubs can be found scattered among the azaleas.

Naturalistic Edge
An undulating border between the formal gardens and pine forest, this 6- to 15-foot-wide band will be used to identify aesthetic transition from lawn to wildland and include visual examples and study areas of naturalistic plantings for upland, lowland, shade and sun areas. Identification of native plants that have landscape potential and demonstration of native plant associations in the landscape-wildland interface will be an integral part of this edge. Other benefits will be evaluation of plantings for sound barrier, screening and wildlife habitat.

Sun Garden
Small island groupings of ornamental shrubs, annuals and perennials showcase some of the newer introductions of these plants. Beautiful yes, but can they take the heat? The performance of these new plants is evaluated in full sun conditions of Louisiana's heat and humidity.

Phenology Garden
Phenology is the study of regularly recurring biological phenomena (such as plant budding) as influenced by climate. The phenological events of flowering ornamentals are being recorded in this research garden established in 2007. These events will help predict insect pest activities, which can be used to develop a Biological Calendar for a more effective and greener way to control pests in the landscape.

Urban Forest
This area includes 32 species of shade trees. Over time, these trees will provide research opportunities in suitability for urban uses and maintenance practices. The use of truly native trees also will be studied and promoted, as will variety evaluations and cultivation requirements of lesser-known native trees and plants.

Firewise Landscaping
A well-designed, fire-defensible landscape is the first step toward reducing risk from wildfires and is critical to the protection of home and property in the wildland-urban interface – the area between unoccupied wooded areas and human development or houses. The landscape surrounding the building demonstrates the concepts of defensible space, proper placement of shrubs and trees, fire-resistant treatment of wood fences and proper selection of fire-resistant plant material.

Care and Maintenance Area
Research on landscape issues such as weed control, fertilization, pruning, and mulching is conducted in this area. Several plant evaluations in this area include landscape roses, cannas, ground covers, and daylilies. The daylily variety collection includes All-America Daylily Selection winners and popular daylily varieties.

Southern Homestead
A two-story Southern house built in the late 1800s is a significant architectural aspect of the station. This former residence, which has been remodeled and houses the Southeast Region Office, is surrounded by “homestead” plants, which duplicate 30- to 50-year-old landscapes found throughout the South. This site provides a special opportunity to introduce a wider assortment of classic, homestead and enduring plant species to the landscaper and also will be used to demonstrate how established plantings can be renewed and complemented with new and fresh additions. The homestead garden was established in 2004.

W. F. "Hody" Wilson Camellia Garden
A legacy of the Hammond Research Station is a collection of camellias from the early work of W.F. “Hody” Wilson Jr.  Over 600 camellia plants planted in the early 1940’s and 1950’s can be found nestled under a pine forest (located across Hwy 1067 from the station entrance). The Camellia Garden is showcased each February with a camellia stroll sponsored by the Tangipahoa Parish Master Gardeners.

For more information about the station, please contact the resident coordinator, Regina Bracy, at (985) 543-4125.

Read these articles by Allen Owings on research conducted at the station:

Alternatives in Cool-season Flowers for the Landscape

Drift Series Roses New Landscape Shrub

Warm-season Landscape Plant Evaluations

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 that contributes 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 its 4-H youth, family and community programs.

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