Monday, February 15, 2016

2016 Society for Louisiana Irises Convention in Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana


By Ron Killingsworth

The annual Society for Louisiana Irises (SLI) convention will be held in Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana, from Wednesday, April 20th through Sunday, April 24th, 2016.  Make your reservations now!

The event will be at the Hilton Garden Inn at 2015 Old Minden Road, Bossier City, LA 71111.  Reservations can be made by calling (318) 759-1950.  You can also access their website at Hilton Garden Inn Bossier City, and be sure to use promotion code "SLI".

Attendees will have time to visit many beautiful sites in the Bossier City area. If you are interested, the SLI board meeting will take place on Wednesday from 6 PM to 9 PM in the hospitality suite.  

The garden tours will be on Thursday.  The first stop will be the Newton/Taylor garden located outside of Mooringsport, LA.  Mooringsport is about 15 miles north of Shreveport, which in the NW corner of the state of Louisiana.  The Newton/Taylor property was a family "camp" for many years before Ray Taylor and Eric Newton moved there in 1996.  Ray is a horticulturist and Eric is a landscape architect, so this is a gorgeous gem of a garden.  An acre of gardens includes collections of Japanese Maples, Camellia japonica, sassanquas, many varieties of roses, spring flowering shrubs and perennials including Louisiana irises. You will also see many unusual trees, including palms.  Vast bulb plantings that predate Ray and Eric's tenure bloom profusely in the spring.

The bus will then travel a few miles down the road to Plantation Point Nursery located on historic Caddo Lake.  This is an opportunity to see and photograph about 80,000 Louisiana irises grown in just about every conceivable method.  This is also the location of guest irises and seedlings from various hybridzers.  Bobbie and Stan have built a double gallery old plantation style home facing the lake.  There are several ponds with irises growing around the edges.  Louisiana irises can be found in dug beds, raised beds, among the other landscape plants, in marshes and on the edge of Caddo Lake.  Tours will be conducted of Plantation Gourmet Coffee, located on the grounds, and guests will be able to watch coffee being roasted and sample the results.

'Red Velvet Elvis' growing near the Koi pond where giant storks watch over the fish
'Fringed Gold' in the foreground with Bobbie and Stan's double gallery home in the background
Visitors will also be able to view recent additions such as Stan's Zen Garden, the Moss Steps waterfall, Bobbie's bog garden and Stan's tissue culture lab in "The Gator".

"Hardy" gladiolas and large poppies grow well with Louisiana irises!
Caddo Lake is natural, and many bald cypress trees grow in the lake.  It covers acres from NW Louisiana into NE Texas.

Louisiana irises growing on the edge of historic Caddo Lake with bald cypress trees in the background.

Louisiana irises abound at Plantation Point Nursery.

Thousands of Louisiana irises near the Crawfish Pond at Plantation Point Nursery with Caddo Lake in the background.

Massive planting of Louisiana irises with bald cypress tress and Caddo Lake in the background.

Hundreds of blooms greet visitors to Plantation Point Nursery in Mooringsport, LA.

Visitors will also find hundreds of Louisiana irises separated by color.  Lunch will be served on the patio of the "Big House".  Visitors will be treated to an authentic "Cajun" catered lunch and entertained by a Cajun music band.

On Friday, April 22nd, the bus will depart from the hotel for the R.W. Norton Art Gallery and Gardens in Shreveport, LA.  Established in 1947 by the R. W. Norton Foundation, the gallery and gardens are on 47 acres in south Shreveport.  Visitors will see flowing streams, an extensive xeriscaped experimental garden, a large ginger collection, a collection of camellias and over 60 varieties of maple trees.  Of course there is a large planting of Louisiana irises in one of the gardens.

R.W. Norton Art Gallery and Gardens offers plenty of "water features".

Of course you will find plenty of art and sculptures at the gallery.

Visitors will see many different types of flowers, trees and plantings.

Convention guests will then load up on the bus for a two hour trip through the farms and forest of central Louisiana as we head for our destination of The Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve near Saline, LA.  Briarwood, as it is mostly known by locals, is the birthplace and home of Caroline Dormon, a world renowned naturalist, author, artist and the first woman to be hired by the US Forestry Service.  

Enjoy the view at the big pond at Briarwood.

Visiting the home of Caroline Dormon is like traveling back in time. The Briarwood Nature Preserve has certainly accomplished its mission of keeping the preserve the way it was when she lived in this tranquil place.  Dr. Dormon collected many Louisiana irises from the wild in south Louisiana and moved them to her gardens at Briarwood.  One really wet spot called the "bog garden" contains many of the original plantings by Dr. Dormon.

Briarwood, as a nature preserve, has many places for water fowl.
 The "Reidhimer Pond" has recently undergone much work and is the home for wood ducks and other wildlife.

Mountain Laurel in many colors can be found along with hundreds of native azaleas.
Convention guests will be treated to state-wide famous BBQ in the guest center.  Many trails are available for walking and "people movers" are ready to transport those who are unable to walk the trails.  Wildflowers abound in their natural settings.

Louisiana irises growing in the bog garden at Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve.


The second "log cabin" built by Caroline Dormon at Briarwood houses many of her various collections.










There will be an American Iris Society approved iris show at the hotel on Saturday, April 23rd, consisting of beautiful Louisiana irises.  The schedule of events and a registration form can be downloaded from the website of the Society for Louisiana Irises.

Make your reservations now to attend this wonderful convention and have a chance to visit the Shreveport area as well as Bossier City and the surrounding area, known as "Louisiana's Other Side".






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