August 29, 2005. For the citizens of New Orleans, that date, the day Hurricane Katrina devastated their city, is burned onto their collective memory like a cattle brand. But thousands of resilient people who cannot imagine living anywhere else are determined that August 29 will be but one page of a long story with a happy ending. Thanks to organizations like Build Now, New Orleans is coming back.
Build Now is a non-profit organization that helps people who lost their homes during the flood build new, elevated homes on their property. Homeowners can choose from 7 traditional New Orleans architectural styles and 14 different floor plans. (Pamela Plaisance’s new home, above, is called “The Octavia.”) Designed to meet EnergyStar standards, these high-quality homes are very affordable, running from about $100-200,000, depending on size and amenities. Build Now even helps line up financing.
So what’s this have to do with gardening? Well, Build Now doesn’t just want to restore houses. It wants to restore gardens too. So it’s partnered with horticulture students and instructors of Delgado Community College in New Orleans to design and plant new gardens for a number of these houses as part of a contest called “Landscaping Our City.” Judging takes place during the week of May 10 and Grumpy is one of the judges!!
During my brief visit this week to several new Build Now homes in the city’s Lakeview and Gentilly neighborhoods, I watched student volunteers from St.Augustine High School pitch in with the Delgado folks to plant trees and shrubs donated by The Garden Gates nursery in nearby Metairie. Here are some photos of plants going in.
Students and instructors pitching in.
It’ll be interesting to see how the gardens change by the time we do the judging next month. I’ll show you the winner right here as soon as it happens. Then everyone’s going to celebrate the event and new beginnings with a rousing crawfish boil. You can bet I’ll toast New Orleans with a few of my favorite beverages.