Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Garden that the Broussards and sheep Built

A crystal clear swimming pool shaped like a mountain valley stream greets visitors when they step into the backyard of Kenneth and Myra Broussard in Kaplan. The water reflects light onto a garden filled with ceramic frogs, multi-colored glass globes, roman statues and exotic plants and flowers. It’s hard to believe that the quarter acre oasis was once a pasture that sheep used as their own personal port-o-let.

“My friends with gardens get jealous because the manure makes everything grow so well here,” laughs Mr. Broussard. “I can’t fertilize anything or it would take over.”

Mr. Broussard grew up on his parents’ farm in a house that still stands next door to his current home. When he and his wife Myra moved to the location in 1975, the couple was inspired to begin building their garden.

“My dad was a farmer and my uncle, Paul Broussard was an agriculture teacher,” says Mr. Broussard. “I got my love of gardening from them.”

Potted periwinkles dance around an assortment of ferns such as Sword, Boston, Bird’s Nest, Maidenhair and Holly. Sago and Cardboard palms reflect off the pool’s water while hydrangeas, hibiscus and ginger provide variegated leaves for lizards to sunbathe, and flowers for bees to pollinate. A large Oak tree, with the help of bamboo, River Birch and Crepe Myrtles provide shady areas decorated with Bleeding Hearts, Nandinas and Fake Birds of Paradise.

“Every spring I have an urge to buy plants even though I don’t have place to put them,” says Mr. Broussard. “Fortunately, I help my son-in-law who has Romero’s Quality Lawn Service and Landscaping, and I can buy plants for his customers. That way, I don’t have to buy as many for myself.”

In addition to the many plants, flowers and trees, the Broussard’s garden also includes a small greenhouse and an Acadian Style Cottage with a sign that says, “The House That Pop Built”. Three fountains provide the calming sound of water, stain glass ornaments reflect bursts of color, and a statue of Saint Francis watches and guards the area.

“There are a lot of caterpillars eating my plants,” says Mr. Broussard. “But I don’t kill them because they turn into butterflies.”

Mr. Broussard’s advice to a gardener is to water in the morning to avoid insects and disease. He says it’s also very important to build up beds and ensure they have good soil.

“It’s like building a house,” says Mr. Broussard. “You need a good foundation to hold up the walls. You also have to maintain the garden because beautiful plants and flowers don’t happen on their own.”

Mr. Broussard, a retired public school principal says he gardens to relax. He tried painting, but it didn’t have the same calming affect as being outside in nature.

“Kenneth used to say that he liked to garden because the plants didn’t talk back like the students did,” laughed Mrs. Broussard. “We have so many wonderful memories from the garden because we’ve hosted gatherings of friends and family. We even had a wedding here.”

When I visited the Broussard’s garden, I immediately became jealous because of the swimming pool, and a variegated hibiscus that I’d been looking for but couldn’t find.
But I became even greener with envy when my eyes saw the Fake Bird of Paradise. The beautiful ornate red and yellow flower resembled the interior of a lava lamp or what I imagined the tongue of an outer space alien to look like.

But I forgave the Broussards for having better plants than me when I found out that they are members of the Kaplan Beautification Committee. Mr. Broussard and fellow member Joel Howard are responsible for the roses on Cushing Boulevard that always make me smile when I drive by them.

My visit to the garden was very rewarding because I left with a potato vine, small Rain tree, clippings of hydrangeas and the recipe to a secret gardening concoction to keep plants well fed and healthy. But the greatest gift of all was the knowledge I gained from spending time in the inspirational garden that the Broussards and sheep built.

Gardening concoction passed on to the Broussards by Marcia Greene:

Can of Coke
Can of beer
Cup of apple juice
Cup of ammonia
Cup of dishwashing liquid
Dilute with water and spray on plants in early morning.

For more information on the services of Romero’s Quality Lawn Service and Landscaping, call 337-652-3916.

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