My husband went to Louisiana to do some relief work in the area.  We'd never visited the South, so after his job was completed, we joined him.  It was an beautiful trip and an amazing adventure.  We actually stayed at a haunted plantation, and had an encounter with the ghost . . . but that is a story for another time...

THIS BEAUTIFUL AREA was so devastated by Katrina, and this gulf coast is once again threatened by disaster with the BP oil spill gushing thousands of barrels of crude a day into the waters there - I wanted to share my photos of this unique area with you.  It may be a long time before it looks like this again, although I am praying that the oil can be stopped, contained and removed and that it will never reach these shores.  The ecosystem in the bayous and swamps and the entire gulf coast are in danger and so many rely on these waters for a living. 

Cypress Trees and Spanish Moss - Swamp off of Lake St. Martin, Lousisiana

snowy egret flying over bayou area

Lake St. Martin.  We saw over 20 gators this day, as well as hundreds of water birds and some box turtles.

Swamp off of Lake St. Martin.  Our guide was Cajun and had built this boat himself.  It seated 12 in swivel seats - but we were his only customers that day.  He was able to take us deep into the swamp area, and promised us there would be NO mosquitoes.

This green stuff is not slime - it is a tiny tiny plant that covers the top of the water in this swamp and is so dense it does not allow mosquito eggs to hatch.  There really were NO mosquitoes, as promised!

During our visit to the South we also toured Natchez, Mississippi.  There were beautiful antebellum homes everywhere, surrounded by giant sprawling oak trees dripping with spanish moss.

On the way to Nathez, we visited St. Francisville, LA - also famous for its lovely antebellum homes.

Water hyacinth in one of the swamps in LA

note the wrought iron work on the house in the background - amazing homes!

this house was one of my favorite and we were able to tour it

the grounds were lovely, too - all shaded by the enormous spreading oaks and dotted with statuary

ahem... the one in the back is mine - hamming for the camera


in beautiful Southern California
a welcoming entry

plantings in her courtyard garden include impatiens
peruvian lily (alstroemeria)
and a climbing rose named Fourth of July
But her backyard has a completely different feel (see the transformation from tract home to beautiful outdoor living space here )

because even though it has this beautiful veranda complete with cozy seating, privacy curtains, a fireplace,
and lush plantings and accents,
this garden is really all about
the pool!
and that dictates what is planted here - no petals, or small leaves to clog the filter
this back yard is all tropicals
with big beautiful leaves
that create a private oasis for Alana and her family

How beautiful is that?