Monday, May 24, 2010

Beautifying New Orleans

Article by General Allison Owen (1869-1951), as it appeared in the Official 1935 Flower Show Book:

"In 1903, an attempt was made to co-ordinate the care of Parks and Boulevards of New Orleans, through the formation of a federation of Parks and Avenue Commissions, which was known as the Central Commission of Parks and Avenues. This was followed in 1909, by a call to form a Tree Society and out of these grew the Parking Commission ordinance and the setting up by Mayor Martin Behrman of the first Board composed of Dr. Joseph Holt, President; Allison Owen, Vice-President and Secretary; J.C. Matthews, Treasurer; and Wil. H. Douglas, and Gus Oertling, Members.

The question of procuring a nursery site was brought up and a tact of land was secured on December 6, 1909, on Broad Street, bounded by White, Melpomene and Clio Streets, a total of eight acres. A professional superintendent and several laborers were employed in clearing all undergrowth and trees and by February 14, 1910, the ground were ready for planting.

In March 1912, the newly organized Parking Commission's first planting was begun. One hundred and seventy elm trees being planted on Orleans Street. From 1912 to 1918 the Parking Commission had under its jurisdiction a number of parks and avenues and thousands of trees. The work of this Commission grew so rapidly and the everlasting demands for trees by the public, was so insistent that it necessitated a larger nursery site than the present one.

On November 12, 1919, a 68 acre tract of land was purchased for $40,000.00, located on Gentilly Road near St. Anthony Street, which is the present nursery site of the Parkway Commission.

During the past four years a total of 19,997 trees of unusual types and beauty were planted on the streets and parks, which brings the total in all to 90,000 trees planted since its organization, not counting the thousands of ornamental and decorative plants and shrubs that were planted.

Palm gardens were planted on South Claiborne Avenue, also on Jefferson Davis Parkway, which were admired and praised by hundreds of New Orleans plant lovers and this planting also makes our City look tropical in every respect.

Melpomene Street, from Dryades to South Claiborne Avenue has been planted with large Magnolia trees, which in itself forms a beautiful scene.

On West End Boulevard, from Florida Avenue to Robert E. Lee Boulevard, a stretch of two miles, has been planted to Crepe Myrtles much to the delight of the residents of that section, also, the lawn is well kept throughout the year.

The planting of Weeping Willow trees with Oleanders alternating has been accomplished on the banks of the New Basin Canal, from the Black Bridge to West End.

South Claiborne Avenue, from Canal to the New Basin Canal, has been planted to a double Avenue of Magnolia trees, to be known as the only planting of its kind in the country.

Large oak trees that were dug up in St. Bernard Parish are planted on Canal Boulevard, from Florida Avenue to Robert E. Lee Boulevard, also Nashville Avenue has been planted with these large oak trees, from Loyola to South Claiborne Avenue, alternating with Parkinsonia trees.

In addition to the replanting of shrubbery at West End Park, there is also the beautiful rose garden with its 5,700 rose bushes in different varieties and its artistically arranged rose arbors. This garden is visited by a great majority of tourists that enter New Orleans. The Center Avenue of the park has been planted to large Magnolia trees. An Azalea garden has been started in the park, which is the admiration of many, and which will be enlarged from time to time until it becomes one of the most attractive features of our parks. Two large lily ponds were built near the entrance of the park, with fountains throwing their spray upon different varieties of water lilies. In the summer the electric fountain is in operation, three times a week, and is a great source of pleasure to those that frequent this park, especially the visitors.

Lafayette Square and Elks Place, which parks are located in the commercial section of the City, are being planted with thousands of azalea bushes of different types."

Greater New Orleans Spring Flower Show. New Orleans: New Orleans Horticultural Society, Inc., 1935, p. 9. From the Garden Library of the New Orleans Town Gardeners, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Tulane University Libraries.

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