Also a stop on the New Orleans trip was Longue Vue House and Gardens. I was intrigued to visit initially due the design history of the property. Ellen Biddle Shipman was a leading landscape architect of the time and designed the grounds around 1934. Her mentor was Charles A. Platt, whose sons William and Geoffrey designed the house beginning in 1939. The structure is interesting due to the four facades of the house having four different appearances. Each side of the house features a very different garden theme as well.
Longue Vue was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 and listed as a National Historic Landmark in 2005. The major historic significance with this property is Shipman’s association, where she had sole creative control over the landscape.
While this is an historic house and landscape, the organization is clearly making attempts to reach all types of audiences both traditional and non traditional. For the latter, there’s a very imaginative and creative children’s garden as well as an art gallery featuring works sensitive to the themes of the property. I was especially impressed by the display on botanical artist Trailer McQuilkin, whose recreations of full scale flowering plants found in the region are incredibly accurate and beautiful. [See my photo link below to get a glimpse.]
The Children’s Discovery Garden
As someone interested in learning theory and the relationship on designing spaces to facilitate learning, children’s gardens have always been interesting to me. With these types of spaces, I’ve seen everything at botanic gardens from the Disney-theme park approach to places that oddly enough have very little vegetative matter. My favorites these days are the children’s garden at Naples Botanic Garden in FL and for an indoor garden, the children’s space at Longwood is a great sensory experience. But perhaps my new favorite is the discovery garden at Longue Vue. For me, i think a successful children’s garden needs the right combination of sensory experience [too much can be bad!], interactive opportunities, and finally opportunities for adults to join in on the discussion. The final component is very important for creating inter-generational activities as well as informing and educating parents and caretakers alike. From the cool bamboo entrance tunnel, to the real-life plating station, to the demonstration of sustainable gardening techniques, any child visiting this garden will leave enriched and informed.
Thought on the gardens
This property has everything one would expect in a southern, urban estate. The live-oak lined drive takes up considerable space and evokes a sense of the country, even though you’re located in the city of New Orleans. The formal grounds, those garden spaces just off the home’s four facades, are period [1940’s] and stylish using rich materials and often mimicking some of the great gardens of the world [Allambra, Villa de este, Versailles].
Other garden rooms and spaces included a victory garden, wild garden, wildflower walk, and countless courtyards. Shipman truly orchestrated a circulatory experience that celebrates botanical excellence through massing of textures and planting, yet helps maintain control and purpose through the cohesiveness of materials and connections of viewpoints.
My 20 minutes are up here, but i truly encourage you to visit this property if in New Orleans and at the very least check out my site photos.