Linda F. Benedict, C.P. Hegwood, Bogren, Richard C.
What may well be one of the country’s largest private camellia collections is on its way to a new home.
More than 450 identified camellia varieties from the private collection of Violet Stone are being propagated from cuttings and will be planted in the Windrush Gardens at the LSU AgCenter Burden Center in Baton Rouge.
When Stone died in October 2001, she left a Baton Rouge garden brimming with about 500 named varieties and 200 to 300 more unknown or duplicated camellia bushes.
With the help of Violet’s daughter, Stella Stone Cooper of Paramus, N.J., and longtime family friend and camellia collector Art Landry of Baton Rouge, staff from the LSU AgCenter’s Burden Center identified and collected cuttings from all but about 30 varieties in the Stone collection.
The cuttings—20 from each plant—have been sent to two different nurseries for propagation, according to Pat Hegwood, director of the Burden Center.
When they are returned from the nurseries, some of the plants will be grown in pots for two or three years and then grafted to sturdy rootstock for planting, Hegwood said. The nurseries will get commercial access to the plants derived from the cuttings in exchange for their work in propagation.
When the new plants are ready, they will be planted in a special garden at the Burden Center.
“Some of the varieties are quite rare and valuable,” Hegwood said of the collection the Stones had accumulated over more than 50 years. “Ultimately, we’ll end up with at least one or two grafted plants of each variety. It will take 10 to 12 years for us to get a fully developed garden from the cuttings.”
The 420-acre Burden Center, originally Windrush Plantation, was owned by the Burden family from the mid-1800s until it was donated in parcels to Louisiana State University from 1966 until the early 1990s.
Used for horticultural and agronomic research and as home to the LSU Rural Life Museum, the Burden Center, now surrounded by Baton Rouge, is restricted to being a green area without any buildings except those necessary for the museum or for research, according to the Burden family’s directions.
The Burden Center features the Ione Burden Conference Center, the Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie, an All-America Rose Display Garden and acres of research plots along with Windrush Gardens and its plant collection.
(This article was published in the summer 2002 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)