Gill speaks at district garden club meeting

Michael Tortorich
LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill speaks during the district fall meeting of garden clubs held Friday at the Holiday Inn Gonzales.

Several Louisiana garden clubs converged at the Holiday Inn in Gonzales Friday for the district fall meeting.

The Gonzales Garden Club hosted the event, which featured LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill as the keynote speaker.

Gill, a Prairieville resident, is well-known across Louisiana for providing gardeners with advice through television, radio and newspapers.

Gill spoke about LaHouse, short for Louisiana House, which is the AgCenter’s home and landscape research center. Located adjacent to the LSU golf course on Gourrier Avenue in Baton Rouge, it is open Wednesday through Saturday for free walk-in tours.

LaHouse is a permanent, evolving showcase house with seven acres of educational landscape exhibits. It serves as an educational outreach to consumers, professionals and youth.

The project focuses on both national and regional challenges, including energy independence, hurricanes, floods and waste management.

Gill said LaHouse was built using “green” concepts.

“We want landscapes to have as small of an impact on the environment as possible,” Gill said.

Attitudes about the environment have changed over the years, he said. The focus has shifted to such issues as pollution prevention and practical solutions.

In speaking about landscaping, Gill said the object is not necessarily perfection.

“We tend to water and fertilize too much,” he said.

Gill said garden clubs have “led the way many times for recycling and composting for many years.”

Such topics are “like preaching to the choir,” he added.

Gill recommended using native species. If local nurseries do not carry them, customers should inquire so managers know the demand is there.

“Let them know how disappointed and crushed you are,” he said.

Lawns can be set up to conserve water and reduce energy.

“Americans have had a love affair with lawns,” he said.

While lawns are useful and one of the best filters for pesticides, they are also high maintenance.

Gill said the growing population and development of Ascension Parish is similar to St. Tammany, Livingston and Tangipahoa parishes. For new subdivisions to be built, forests have to be leveled.

He said increased construction displaces wildlife by taking away its habitat.

Gill said maintaining “an island of the habitat” would be preferred.

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