Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans, LA (www.longuevue.com), now a museum and public garden, was designed in 1935-42 as the home for Edgar Bloom Stern and Edith Rosenwald Sulzberger Stern. Both were important philanthropists: Edgar was a cotton broker, and banker and Edith was heiress to the Sears-Roebuck fortune.
Longue Vue’s Head Gardener, Amy Graham said, “Mrs. Stern opened the gardens to the public in 1968, then in 1980 the house was open to the public. Over the years, various gardeners deviated from Shipman’s original designs. After Hurricane Katrina, Garden Conservancy and Heritage Landscapes (www.gardenconservancy.org) funded and produced a ten-year Landscape Renewal Plan to restore the landscape while honoring the original Shipman plans.”
The gardens at Longue Vue, ten minutes from Bourbon ST and downtown New Orleans, provide visitors with an opportunity to tour 14 separate garden rooms including an Azalea Walk, Yellow Garden, Canal Garden, Walled Garden, Spanish Court, Wild Garden and Discovery Garden.
Two women were integral to the beauty of the estate you can see at Longue Vue: The 8-acre landscape and the 22,000 square-foot residential interior were designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman and the landscape plan was implemented with the help of Caroline Dormon.
Shipman (1869-1950), who designed 600 gardens, was known for creating pictures as an artist would, but using plants instead of paint. Unlike most garden designers, Shipman was an experienced gardener who knew plants.
Called “The Dean of Women Landscape Architects”, Shipman felt that the garden was the most essential part of a house. After her garden was installed, the Sterns decided to remove the original house and replace it with a house that provided better views of the landscape. (More details at http://tinyurl.com/d78al4)
Dormon (1888-1971) specialized in, and wrote books about, native plants which she grew at her family home, now the Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve. As the first female employee of the U.S. Forestry Service, she is credited with single-handedly establishing the 600,000 acre Kisatchie National Forest, the only National Forest in Louisiana.
Director of Horticulture
In 2006, hundreds of volunteers including staff from The Garden Conservancy volunteered at Longue Vue, assisting in clearing debris, which took 6 months. . (Before and after pictures and more information at http://tinyurl.com/87x6hnd)
Graham said that in the Iris Walk, 60% of the plants were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Iris Society donated the labor and over 800 iris plants. The collection now stands at over 2,600 which provides a breathtaking display each spring.
The Wild Garden is filled with native plants from Dormon’s extensive collection and were taken from her own garden. Plants include dogwood, viburnum, witch hazel, wild azalea and assorted perennial shrubs and flowers. Three paths lead into the food-filled Walled Garden.
The Discovery Garden is a one-half acre addition to the original design. Inspired by the Sterns’ commitment to education, it has butterfly, herb and vegetable gardens where many hands-on children’s programs are held.
The Canal Garden, lined with potted plants, was inspired by the Quinto do Cabo near Lisbon, Portugal.
The Spanish Court has been re-designed a few times, changing from a lawn in the 1920s to a Camellia allee designed by Shipman in the 1930s, remade into a Loggia in the 1950s, then remade into the Spanish Court by William Platt in the1960s. It has a reflecting pool with arching fountains.
A tour of the house and gardens should be on your to do list if you are in the New Orleans area. They are both well worth your time.