For the first time since Katrina, I spent the day touring beautiful gardens in New Orleans. All the people there said they just loved my articles in Southern Living. Then I discovered how they really felt when I walked into a garden and saw this sign.
But heck, I don’t mind. I get this kind of reaction everywhere.
I was in the Big Easy to experience The Secret Gardens Tour, which takes place every spring and gets you into some of the finest private gardens in the city. My guide for the tour, Kathleen Waring, explained that the proceeds of the non-profit event help raise awareness and funds for brain injury survivors and their families.
We toured 11 gardens and I hope some of the them will appear in Southern Living before too long. Landscape architect Rene Fransen, whose work has graced our pages a number of times, designed a couple of mind-blowing gardens.
I also met for the first time a husband-and-wife team of landscape architects, Alan and Marianne Mumford, of Landscape Images and found their gardens to be fun, interesting, well-designed, and definitely worth a revisit.
Now when you read this next paragraph, you might think I was bribed to say that — but I assure you the Grump cannot be bought (for less than $100). Alan and Marianne treated me to lunch at the Camellia Grill, a New Orleans landmark since 1946, located at St. Charles and South Carrollton. They told me the restaurant closed after Katrina, but people who grew up with it missed it so much that they tacked notes to the front begging it to reopen. It’s basically a sandwich, burger, and omelet place, but the food is good, there’s lots of it, and the atmosphere is great. The waiters and cooks are outgoing and very friendly. One asked me where I was from and when I answered, “Birmingham,” he cupped his hands to his mouth and trumpeted, “BIRMINGHAM IN THE HOUSE!!!” One warning, though — if it’s your birthday, keep it a secret, or you may be called out to dance.
I’ll end with a shout-out to those fun ladies from Columbia, Mississippi who joined us on the tour and were rightfully delighted with my encyclopedic knowledge and sense of humor. They told me their town is famous for its bottle trees, so I decided to check. Felder Rushing, my buddy and co-author of the best gardening book ever written, Passalong Plants, is the South’s foremost authority on bottle trees and has written a very thorough treatise on them, which you can read by clicking here. I looked at his pictures and by golly, Miss Molly, there was this one from Columbia, Mississippi. Columbia, you make us proud!