In his play, "Cymbeline", Shakespeare has a lad woo his lass by arguing she should not spurn the carnation flower because it is a hybrid; nature provides humans with arts that enhance nature. His case was for the art of marriage fulfilling the impulses of love and lust.
Nature provides humans with arts that enhance nature
Gardens — which figure large in love and lust, now that I think of it — offer another way that the human touch develops nature. The resplendent results at Longue Vue House and Gardens persuade us that our ardent lad had a point. (He carries the day in the play, as well.) Merely minutes from downtown New Orleans, the drive to this botanical sanctuary is short and the rewards are, well, Longue. Year round, its gardens woo and win all smart or lucky enough to visit.
Starting with the basics, everyone will float on the airy pleasures of simply ambling among the different gardens’ blessings. For proof of that claim, readers should breathe in this description of Longue Vue’s “Portico Garden”: “Shipman’s formal boxwood parterres are softened by the airy romantic borders containing poppies, delphinium, phlox, baby’s breath, and any number of other seasonal delights.” Surely the horticulturist Hannah Rion had such an experience in mind when she said, “The gift of the garden is restoration.” And who could not use some restoration (aka, vacation from your vacation) while taking in our city’s bold flavors, engaging sights and ecstatic sounds?
Longue Vue offers 14 gardens. Together they transport visitors to a remarkable variety of botanical life. The Spanish Court was inspired by the famous Generalife Gardens in Grenada, Spain. The Walled Garden was the house's original kitchen garden and has only edible plants. During WWII it was the house’s Victory Garden. The Wild Garden abounds with only Louisiana native plants, while the Yellow Garden has only…yes, you guessed it, and you get the idea. Each garden is a work of art. The Discovery Garden for the kids is live, however. Those worms are not on a screen!
Longue Vue does not just have something for everybody; it has many things for anybody. In addition to its gracious grounds, this site offers a compelling look into Louisiana history and life through its Longue Vue House museum, the second piece of this National Historic Landmark. In this Classical Revival mansion, visitors will take in a first-rate collection of decorative arts and modern art. Longue Vue also hosts an impressive series of Louisiana-focused exhibitions and lectures on art and culture.
Marriage and gardening are only two possible ways humans nurture nature. The fine arts can as well, a point admirably on display free of charge seven days a week at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). Located on five acres of City Park next to our majestic museum, the Sidney and Wanda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is one of the few anywhere to be installed into an existing landscape. Indeed, perhaps here nature nurtures art as well. Whichever ways the influence goes, at the Besthoff nature and art get along famously.
This sculpture garden is, quite simply, one of the best in the nation. As a fourth-generation New Orleanian friend of mine says, “Proceed with caution: The sculpture garden is reduced like a sauce. You may get spoiled, rendering others thinly unsatisfying.” (The food analogy proves she’s a fourth-generation New Orleanian).
The gift of the garden is restoration
Tastefully spread over the ample grounds, almost 60 sculptures delight and engage viewers as they stroll through, and play and picnic on the grounds or around the central lagoon. Works by stalwarts such as Henry Moore, surprises such as Rene Magritte, and contemporaries like Allison Saar make for continually fascinating, engagingly fun, aesthetic and intellectual pleasure. Speaking of fun, parents should note that the outdoor acreage gives children plenty of room to spread their wings and work off steam, as does playing tag among the spindly legs of the ginormous spider sculptures of our century-old oak trees.
Almost 60 sculptures delight and engage viewers
For an extra treat, the trip to the Besthoff can be a New Orleans adventure in itself. The Canal Street streetcar ends at the City Park entrance leading to NOMA. For contact information and more so that these exciting garden destinations may nurture your nature, check our Listings.