For more than 40 years, this downtown location was the first airport in Baton Rouge. The airfield relocated to another site north of the city in the 1970’s. And the vacant land slowly blossomed into a large botanic garden.
When I arrive at the Botanic Garden along Independence Boulevard, I see a group of women working in a large area of blooming day lilies. They belong to one of the garden clubs whose members plant and maintain the display areas. “We have between 900 and about 1,100 different varieties of day lilies here,” explains volunteer Claire Fontenot. She and her friends spend their mornings here, with hats that shade them from the summer sun, weeding and trimming the flowing plants. Fontenot tells me this is one of the largest collections of day lilies in the South.
botanic garden planning
Landscape architect Buck Abbey is one of the planners who helped design this downtown blooming oasis 35 years ago. As we chat under the shade of one of the many live oak trees, Abbey tells me, “We’re standing on the site of the southeast runway of the original Baton Rouge Airport which opened in 1931.” After drawing up the designs for the Botanic Garden, various local garden clubs signed on to create and manage different sections of the park. They created gardens of mints, healing and herb plants, a formal rose garden, the day lilies and iris.
A model for home gardeners
By design, you will only find plants and flowers here that are available in local nurseries. “If you see something here, it’s definitely going to grow for you at home,” explains John Hough of the Botanic Garden Foundation. “We always emphasize the local plants that are available in the nurseries,” he adds.
beauty on display in botanic garden
Stroll, read a book, relax
The Botanic Garden has long shaded paths, perfect for a stroll or jogging. BREC, the Baton Rouge Recreation Program, owns the park. And the gardens are located adjacent to the Main Library in East Baton Rouge Parish.
botanic Garden featured on TV
The gardens are located on Independence Boulevard between Airport and Lobdell in Baton Rouge, LA. There is parking at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library at 7711 Goodwood Blvd.