Richard Bogren | 10/12/2016 2:14:30 PM
The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden is home to a diversity of plant research and variety demonstration gardens and a naturalized woodlands research area that serve commercial agriculture and horticulture. In addition, the gardens serve the general public through the All-America Selections Garden, the rose garden, the herb garden and the children’s garden with a new pollinator garden in the works. Visitors also can take advantage of the Trees and Trails program that provides more than five miles of serene walking paths through Burden Woods.
The Botanic Gardens also offers an abundance of public events throughout the year.
Each winter, the Botanic Gardens celebrates Arbor Day. A highlight in recent years has been the opportunity for visitors to plant a tree to help reforest Burden Woods, which was damaged by Hurricane Gustav in 2008. Each individual and family who plants a tree is given a certificate with GPS coordinates so they can monitor the growth of the tree they plant.
Each spring the Brush with Burden Art Exhibition features a juried multimedia exhibition of art inspired by Louisiana’s natural beauty. It’s preceded by a special seminar presented by a renowned artist.
Later in spring, the Botanic Gardens presents Gourmet in the Garden, which features tastings from award-winning local chefs accompanied by craft cocktails and live music in the gardens and pavilion. And in the fall, the Botanic Gardens invites visitors to Wine and Roses, an elegant evening of dining and dancing under the stars and among 2,000 roses.
In June, Garden Fest visitors can enjoy a hayride to taste local produce and learn about the latest in vegetables and ornamental plants and sample foods from local culinary schools and food companies in the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator.
Each Saturday during October, the Corn Maze features activities that include a farm animal petting zoo, hay mountain climb, kids zip line, hayride and a giant slingshot. The event culminates on the final Saturday with a bonfire.
In December, the public can view some of the latest varieties of poinsettias and vote on the favorites. More than 1,000 are on display and available for sale. And Christmas at Burden offers the opportunity to make a gingerbread house and for children to have breakfast with Santa.
Throughout the year, the Children's Garden Series at the Botanic Gardens presents programs for children ages 6-10 to participate in fun, interactive activities and learn about gardening. And StoryTime at Burden sponsored by the Junior League of Baton Rouge features storybook readings and imagination-themed activities for children ages 3 to 8.
Many of the events in the Botanic Gardens are conducted in cooperation with the Burden Horticulture Society with proceeds used to educational programs. The facilities are home to the East Baton Rouge Master Gardeners and also play host to a variety of local horticulture organizations and societies for regular meetings and plant shows and sales like those by the East Baton Rouge Master Gardeners, the Camellia Society and the Baton Rouge Orchid Society. And week-long Byzantine Icon Workshops teach “writing the icon,” an art form since the early days of Christianity.
Rick Bogren is a professor and associate editor of Louisiana Agriculture.