Bayou Gardens Open House

February 29, 2020
Vintage graphic of man paddling a pirougue From 1935-1956, Bayou Gardens was a must see horticultural attraction on the northshore of Lake Ponchartrain. Now the headquarters of the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges, the gardens are maintained by volunteers and showcase an impressive variety of camellias and azaleas. Join us to celebrate the historic garden with FREE garden tours, camellia growing tips, workshops, arts and crafts, and more! Explore the historic gardens on your own or with a guided tour. Enjoy free refreshments provided by the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges.

Open House from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Download a Bayou Gardens Open House Program Guide and Map 2020 (1 MB PDF)


The Story Behind the Scenery. All tours begin at the Visitor Center entrance. Departures at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Join camellia experts, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff, and Master Gardener guides on a one-hour stroll of Bayou Lacombe Center’s grounds and gardens to explore the site’s fascinating history and identify some of the camellias on the property. (A cart tour is available for those unable to walk)


Walk on the Wild Side Nature Walk: 9:30 a.m. Join a ranger for a 45 minute nature walk geared for families with young children. Departs from the Visitor Center.   

Nature's Clock Walk: 12 p.m.  Nature has a time for everything - when the birds migrate, when flowers begin to bloom, when the frogs sing, and leaves fall. Join naturalists on a 45-minute nature walk to explore the inter-related cycles of nature and how climate variations can affect wildlife habitat and nature's calendar.

 Talks and Workshops 

Gardening with Native Plants to Attract Birds 10:30 a.m. Join native plant expert and horticulturist Tammany Baumgarten to explore native plants and landscaping techniques that provide garden beauty and food and shelter for birds. Session is 45 minutes with added time for questions. In the Conservation Room.
The Language of Camellias in Romance, Art, and History 11.:30  a.m. Camellias are one of the most lovely and romantic of blooms. Explore their rich history at this talk exploring camellias in romance and culture by Hunter Charbonnet, President of the Northshore Camellia Club. In the Roosevelt Room.

How to Be Bee and Pollinator Friendly in Your Garden and Yard 1 p.m. For the latest buzz on bees join beekeeper and Master Gardener Jim Bates for a 45 minute talk on pollinators, their important role, and how we can help them. Question and answer session to follow talk. In the Conservation Room.

More… Activities and Exhibits

Flower Arts: Make a waxed camellia for a beautiful table display. 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. At the Visitor Center.

Family-friendly Nature Arts and Crafts: Get crafty with flower and pollinator themed crafts. Make "wildlflower seed throws" and more! At the Visitor Center.

Camellia Displays and Ask an Expert: Enjoy the beauty of camellias and try to pick a favorite at a floral display of hundreds of varieties of camellia blossoms. Bring your gardening or camellia questions to the camellia growing experts from the American Camellia Society and the Northshore Camellia Club. In the Roosevelt Room, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Composting and Vermicomposting Table Talk/Display: Composting is a great way to feed the earth with nutrients rather than putting them into the garbage. Bring your questions about composting and vermicomposting with redworms and any gardening or plant questions to the LSU AgCenter and Master Gardeners.

The Bug Lady: Explore native plants and butterfly display with author of "BugLady's Butterfly Summer" Linda Auld. Learn more about how to attract butterflies with native plants.

Gulf Coast Phenology Trail: Learn more about "nature's calendar" and how citizen scientists are monitoring the timing of plant and animal activities.
Camellia Sale: Proceeds benefit the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges. At the Visitor Center.

Butterfly Demonstration Garden: The flowers may be “sleeping” but the garden is open for you to explore plants that support pollinators. Note that a "messy" looking winter garden can provide habitat for overwintering butterflies and beneficial insects!

Bayou Lacombe Visitor Center: Explore wildlife displays and discover the eight refuges that make up the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges Complex. Open 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Bayou Gardens Open House is brought to you by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, the LSU Ag Center office of St. Tammany Parish, the St. Tammany Master Gardeners, The American Camellia Society, and the Northshore Camellia Club.

Camellia display on a table