Old Metairie Garden Club General Meeting – 10/22/2019

If you are interested in gardening and Old Metairie community events you should be a member of the Old Metairie Garden Club. Our last meeting was October 22 at Porter & Luke’s restaurant on Metairie Road.

As soon as we were seated, the staff of Porter and Luke’s began filling our tables with delicious appetizers, compliments of the garden club. We were treated to Parmesan Crusted Eggplant, Onion Rings, Hummus and Pita Toast, Fried Catfish and more.

Our meeting started with an address from Jennifer Van Vrancken, our Councilwoman. Jennifer is truly a friend of our garden club and helps make each of our events happen.

Our guest speaker was Nell Howard, Vice President and founding member of the Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans. Nell is a Louisiana Master Gardener, Master Gardeners of Greater New Orleans Projects Chair and Native Plant Projects Coordinator. She advises and works with the National Park Service on the native plant gardens In the French Quarter.

NATIVES was the topic of the presentation.

The theme of her lecture was to use primarily native plants in our gardens. Many of the plants that you see today in Louisiana are non-native and as Nell describes it, they require more maintenance, water and food and they feed nothing.

Natives, on the other hand, are easy to maintain and acquire water and food naturally. They also feed the fauna. If you want to see birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other wildlife visiting your yard, native plant life is the answer. Natives are natural food for local wildlife.

Nell showed a spectacular photographic presentation of natives planted throughout the city and in her own garden. The plants that she showed us were absolutely beautiful and they blended together perfectly. With the knowledge that these native plants can add so much to our ecosystem, everyone left the meeting anxious to follow Nell’s lead.

One of the interesting facts that we learn is that bugs in the garden are GOOD. Bugs with attract the birds because that is what they eat. Don’t kill the bugs! Let the birds enjoy them.

She also discussed mulch with some thoughts that were new to most of us. If you have an oak tree don’t bag and discard the leaves. In a natural setting, the leaves would fall under the tree and stay there with a purpose. You should consider that example and leave oak tree leaves right under the tree. Pine needles, while good for some applications, doesn’t work well under oak trees.

Nell says to keep an eye out for tree trimmers using chippers to mulch their cuttings. Ask them to give you the wood chips. Let them drop them off in a pile in your yard or a vacant lot and invite your neighbors to use all they want. Wood chips are a great, natural mulch. If the tree service gives you the chips they eliminate a long drive to the dump and the dumping fee.

After the presentation, the sample plants that Nell brought were given to the attendees as door prizes.

This was one of the most informative and enjoyable meetings we’ve had.

Thank you so much, Nell!

Photography by Stephen Waring

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