Always going back to the swamp: Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve


Cajun bridal bouquet Black bayou Small Louisiana alligator Louisiana banded water snake

photo by Ryan Sparks
photo by Ryan Sparks

what does duckweed look like Palmetto

I know, I know. Another damn post about the swamp. Every few months I try to get out to Jean Lafitte to snap some new photos and fantasize about fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a park ranger. I can’t stop taking pictures of where I grew up. I even dedicated an entire zine to it (ahem, click here to buy).

Lately I’ve been working seven days a week between two  jobs, which leaves me with little free time. So when I got an unexpected day off from work recently, I called up my good friend Ryan Sparks and we high-tailed it to the West Bank. Just don’t tell maw maw and paw paw I went on “that side of the river” without visiting them. I kind of feel bad that I didn’t swing by their house. Old Cat’lic guilt dies hard, y’all.

Springtime is the perfect time of year to make the trek to Lafitte. March through May hits that sweet spot; the temperature is delightful, plus you can spot gators sprawled out on the banks without getting eaten alive by mosquitos. I’m also that weirdo that gets really, really excited to see snakes. Copperheads are my favorite, but as a former card carrying member of the Gulf Coast Herpetological Society, I appreciate all things scaly. Insects are another story. I want nothing to do with anything that has more than four legs. Banana Spiders, however, do not phase me. Go figure. If you want a reptile free experience, go in the cooler fall and winter months.

A torrential downpour let up right as we ponied up to the Bayou Coquille trailhead, which allowed us to play around with our cameras without worrying about getting our gear soaked. Be warned: I wore my shit kickers and I still almost ate it on the slippery board walk, so make sure to wear sturdy shoes. I do love the swamp after a good rain though. The duckweed turns the color of pea soup and the air shrugs off the tension of humidity. The canals were especially chocked full of vegetation on this trip, which created an illusion of carpeted clearings throughout the swamp. I wonder how many tourists try to step out and land knee deep in mud. I wonder how many of them know better.

Decorate with Flowers in Southern Style

While I’ve always loved a lush, almost garishly colorful front yard I’m seriously lacking in gardening skills. Patricia Hall of Serenata Flowers shows us how to brighten up your home with flowers. And no, they aren’t the plastic ones that my grandma has in her front yard. I’m not making that up. -Christy

Flowers grow abundantly in the South, and they are expressions of love for nature’s beauty and the home. Fresh flowers from a garden or landscape are beautiful anywhere, but flower ordering makes them available for entertaining or enjoying any time of the year.

A cut bouquet brings an air of elegance and distinction to a southern home that is unequalled. A welcoming home in New Orleans, Savannah or Charleston always includes a variety of flowers in treasured vases for friends and family to enjoy. Favorites include Fuji mums, gerbera daisies and freesia to create an abundance of color that distinguishes the rooms of a gracious hostess. The bright whiteness of the freesia flower creates a distinct contrast with the colors in an arrangement. Following in the southern tradition that reflects a preference for sweetness, freesia fits beautifully as an accent in any bouquet. Hydrangeas are typically very showy plants that are remarkably beautiful in the pastel colors that complement a home’s décor.

Orchids and lilies add elegance to a room

Orchids provide gorgeous blooms in many shades that range from white to pink that extends to deep purple, breathtaking as an indoor arrangement. They are available all year round as fresh flowers, and they hold up very well for table arrangements. A few stems of lilies make an excellent accompaniment with their stately shape and appearance in a tall crystal vase. Such an arrangement on a table in the foyer welcomes friends and family with an unmistakable aura of southern hospitality.

Lilies are an especially good choice for several reasons. The long bloom time makes them a durable flower to consider for an arrangement, and the beauty and elegance they add are second only to their delightful fragrance. While lilies may cost a little more than some flowers, their extraordinary beauty and long-lasting quality make them a favorite in many homes.

A southern tradition of sweetness and beauty

A hallmark of a traditional southern home, true of New Orleans and other southern cities, is the abundant display of vibrant colors in flower bouquets. Likely coming from a tradition that encouraged the cultivation of gardens, southern families still enjoy the fragrance of flowers in the home. With so many activities available today that compete for time and attention, many families now choose a reliable service for fresh flowers delivered on a regular basis. Seasonal flower arrangements provide a delicate touch of color to any room, especially when they accent the chosen shades in the décor.

The dining room is frequently the heart of the home, and it is an ideal location for a flower bouquet set in a deep cut-glass bowl. White tapers add immensely to the elegance of the display, bringing a sense of warm and welcome to the room. Many flowers in the south exude a delicate, sweet aroma, and it is a lovely scent to have wafting around the room. Roses brim with color and aroma, and they are the classic flower to use in almost any arrangement. Small sprigs of Confederate jasmine add a light scent of the old south that is delicate and sweet.

The southern expression “beauty is as beauty does” sums up the importance of always displaying flowers in the home. They silently represent the love of beauty and the important role that it plays in the functioning of a gracious, southern home.

About the Author

Patricia Hall works part-time for an online florist in the uk and loves to surround herself with flowers at any given point of time. Even in her free time she loves to involve herself with everything flora and fauna.
'To me there is nothing more beautiful and global as the language of flowers - it is the easiest to understand all around the world in the same way. That is one reason why I truly admire flowers for what they represent in some ways - unity of all mankind!'
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