This post is not about a book — it’s about a horticultural treasure that sits smack dab in the middle of Baton Rouge.
In case you didn’t know, the 420-acre Burden Center is home to a research facility that conducts trials to evaluate various varieties of tomatoes, sweet potatoes, strawberries, mayhaws, figs, peaches, and pawpaws, along with many other commercial and home garden vegetables and fruits.
Part of the LSU AgCenter, Burden also has an outstanding fig breeding and selection program that recently released the new varieties O’Rourke, Champagne, and Tiger. Other fruit research is investigating low-chill peaches for coastal areas and pawpaws for fruit production and landscape use. Too, they’re experimenting with organic vegetables and summer and winter cover crops. All of this is right there for you to see, and if you plan your trip right, you can even get in on an LSU Extension Service demonstration project.
If you’re not into the latest fads in crop production, you’ll certainly be interested in Burden’s herb and rose gardens, woodlands, wetlands, arboretum, and the Rural Life Museum.
Every time I go to Burden I’m amazed that something that lies in the heart of such a sprawling urban area can be so quiet and unspoiled. But perpetual serenity and a natural landscape is exactly what the land’s donors wanted.
The original land was acquired in the mid-nineteenth century by John Charles Burden, and he called his home Windrush Plantation. In 1966, Burden’s heirs donated 50 acres to LSU. Over the succeeding years, they donated additional acreage, and the final parcel with given in 1992.
Admission is free, and you’re not going to find a prettier place in town to get in your daily jog. And while you’re there, stop by and check on the progress of those figs and sweet potatoes.
The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, LSU Rural LIfe Museum, and Windrush Gardens. Located at 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 225-763-3990. www.discoverBurden.com.