Change may be coming to the historic community of St. Francisville, Louisiana in the form of the new John James Audubon Mississippi River Bridge, but the 2012 Southern Garden Symposium offers a step back to a more gracious era. Known as much for its engaging social events and historic venues as for its outstanding gardening lectures and workshops, the Southern Garden Symposium has become an annual tradition for garden enthusiasts from across the south. With featured speakers like Dean Norton, Mount Vernon’s Director of Horticulture; Heidi Sheesley, owner of Treesearch Farms in Houston, Texas; and floral design instructor Lynette McDougald of Mississippi State University, no other gardening program brings together top quality speakers and historic plantation settings as well as the Southern Garden Symposium- now in its 24th year. Registration at the Southern Garden Symposium is limited and required in advance. For additional information, visit www.SouthernGardenSymposium.org, email
, or call (225) 635-3738.
The symposium will begin on Friday, October 12 with a series of workshops held at various locations in the St. Francisville area. The $75 cost per person includes admission to both morning and afternoon workshops and a gourmet picnic lunch at Afton Villa Gardens. The symposium continues on Saturday, October 13 at Hemingbough, a beautiful cultural arts and reception center just south of St. Francisville. The morning begins 8:30 a.m. with coffee and refreshments on the terrace and time for guests to browse the book, plant, and garden tool sales. Lectures begin at 9:15 a.m. and conclude at 2:15 p.m., with afternoon tea taking place at Evergreenzine, the private home of Mr. and Mrs. Norman Ferachi. The $75 cost per person includes refreshments, lectures, lunch and the afternoon tea. (Admission for both days is available at the discounted rate of $130 per person.) Always a highlight of the symposium weekend, the 2012 Speakers’ Gala will be held on Friday evening at Rosebank Plantation, the private home of Mr. and Mrs. David Walker. The cost for the gala is $50 per person.
Friday’s highlights include a floral design demonstration by award-winning instructor Lynette McDougald of Mississippi State University, taking place against the picturesque backdrop of Afton Villa Gardens. Guests may also chose to attend wonderful workshops on rain garden design, edible landscapes, or tree care.
Lectures will continue on Saturday with programs by popular speakers including Heidi Sheesely, owner of Treesearch Farms, a wholesale nursery located in Houston, Texas. Ms. Sheesely’s program will focus on trees, shrubs, and perennials that add dependable beauty and style to southern gardens. Noted landscape architect Mr. Jeffrey Carbo will follow Ms. Sheesely with a program on the integration of art and science in landscape design. After lunch, guests will join Mount Vernon’s Director of Horticulture, Mr. J. Dean Norton, for an informative and entertaining look at the gardening world of George Washington.
While the symposium’s workshops and lectures provide ideas and inspiration for the gardener, the social activities surrounding the event are classic southern elegance at its best. From the home-baked breakfast breads served in the morning, to the sumptuous fare of the evening gala and the delightfully relaxed Saturday afternoon tea, not a single detail of southern hospitality is overlooked.
Located about 45 minutes north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, St. Francisville was established in 1809. Set in a unique location on a bluff of the Mississippi River and often described as a town “two miles long and two yards wide,” the quaint community offers southern hospitality, fantastic shopping, and breathtaking scenery. Symposium events are held at several historic and picturesque locations, both public and private, including Afton Villa Gardens, Rosedown Plantation, Grace Episcopal Church, Wyoming Plantation, Rosebank Plantation, and more.
Over the years, proceeds from the Southern Garden Symposium have funded numerous projects including scholarships in the School of Landscape Architecture at L.S.U., a revitalization project for historic Ferdinand Street in St. Francisville, sponsorship of the kitchen garden at Audubon State Historic Site (Oakley House), funding for plantings and benches at Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, and others.
The 2012 Southern Garden Symposium is underwritten by a grant from the ExxonMobil Foundation and sponsors including The Bank of St. Francisville, Demco, Imahara’s Botanical Garden, Ins and Outs Nursery, Kurz and Hebert Commercial Real Estate, and Parlange Plantation.