LSU Hilltop Arboretum to Host Annual Symposium Jan. 25 in LSU Design Building Auditorium

01/13/2014 03:37 PM

BATON ROUGE – The Friends of LSU Hilltop Arboretum group will hold its annual symposium, “Magnolias, Azaleas, Southern Native Plants: Bartram’s Trail of Discovery” on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 8:30 a.m. to noon in the LSU Design Building auditorium.


Why are gardeners of today fascinated by John and William Bartram’s travels through Louisiana and the Deep South over 200 years ago? John Bartram and his son, William, were naturalists whose work still gives us a glimpse of Southern wilderness in the late eighteenth-century. During their famous travels through our region, John Bartram discovered and collected native plants, and created a nursery that supplied seeds and plants for the colonies and a trans-Atlantic market, transforming English gardens with American trees and shrubs. In 1775, William Bartram traveled through Lake Ponchartrain, the Amite River and Bayou Manchac to the Mississippi River, through Baton Rouge near today’s LSU Hilltop Arboretum and across the river to Pointe Coupee. He described the landscape of the time in his world renowned book, “Travels,” published in 1791. Because the landscape has changed since the Bartram’s travels, the native plant heritage of the South is one of interest and relevance to all gardeners of today.


Speakers at the symposium will include

• Peggy Davis Coates, director of the LSU Hilltop Arboretum, will talk about her journey of discovery through reading and travel that led to a realization of the historical and horticultural legacy of John and William Bartram, and why the legacy is relevant to southern gardeners of today. Coates will show beautiful pictures from her recent visits to gardens in England and Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia.


• Van Cox, FASLA, professor emeritus and former interim director of the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture. Cox will bring to life the travels of William Bartram through Louisiana with words and pictures. His presentation will evoke the native Louisiana landscape Bartram discovered in 1775 at the end of his four-year expedition through the South.


• Mark Laird, an award-winning historic landscape preservationist based in Toronto who advises on sites in Europe and North America, and is an adjunct professor at Harvard University in the history of landscape architecture. In his beautifully illustrated talk, Laird will tell the story of a garden revolution that began in America with plantsman John Bartram who transformed the English landscape with the introduction of hundreds of American trees and shrubs. He will touch on the magnolias, azaleas and other southern natives discovered by John and William Bartram, their international plant trade, and the nursery business that survived them and three generations of Bartrams. He will close out his talk with his replanting work at Painshill Park, England whose owner Honorable Charles Hamilton transformed his garden with North American plants from John Bartram. Laird was a joint recipient of a 1998 Europa Nostra medal for the work at Painshill Park, and has been the Associate Director of Painshill Park since 2004.


• Robert Bruzuszek, the former site director and curator of the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, Miss., Bruzuszek directed the restoration efforts and interpretive programs for the facility’s regionally distinct savanna, wetland and woodland exhibits for the 104-acre site. He is now an associate professor in landscape architecture at Mississippi State University. His talk will focus on designing and gardening with Southern native plants.


Participants will also have the chance to shop items from the Hilltop Garden Book and Nature Shop during the hospitality break and to purchase plants. Speakers will be on hand for book signings, and refreshments will be provided.


Ticket prices are $50 for Friends of LSU Hilltop Arboretum members and $65 for non-members. Registration is required. On-line registration is available by emailing, by visiting or by phone at 225-767-6916.





Contact Peggy Davis Coates
LSU Hilltop Arboretum


Contact Aaron Looney
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Monday, January 13, 2014