Gentle river breezes waft through the live oaks and willows of the South’s most delightful, fragrant and colorful gardens. A profusion of color greets the eye as you stroll the brick walkways, admiring the sculptures set among flowering blossoms of formal and informal gardens originally planted in the gracious antebellum era.
Learn how the formal gardens of European estates inspired the owners of southern American plantations, and discover the flora they selected to set their gardens apart from their neighbors.
Along the way, renowned horticulturists and gardeners will share their expertise and enliven your shore explorations of such noteworthy gardens as those of Afton Villa Plantation and Imahara’s Garden, both in St. Francisville, in the heart of ”English” Louisiana. Learn how such familiar flowers as azaleas, crape myrtles, camellias and magnolias came to personify the southern garden. Join us on a Steamboating Gardens of the River Vacation and delight all your senses.
SPECIAL ONBOARD GUESTS
Neil Odenwald (April Voyage)
No stranger to Steamboating, Dr. Odenwald has been a frequent special onboard guest during Gardens of the River Vacations in past years. His expertise on Southern gardens — including their restoration — has been enjoyed by numerous past Steamboaters.
Holding both his doctorate and bachelor’s degrees in horticulture from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Louisiana State University, Dr. Odenwald is a former director and professor at the LSU School of Landscape Architecture and a long-time agent at the Louisiana Cooperative Extension program. He is the author of five books on gardening and landscape design, including Southern Plants, which is used as a textbook at LSU’s landscape architecture school. His Live Oak Splendor: Gardens Along the Mississippi River from Natchez to New Orleans graces many a gardener’s coffee table.
Wanda Metz Chase (May Voyage)
Wanda Metz Chase is the third generation of her family to own and operate one of Baton Rouge’s oldest and largest landscape contracting businesses, begun on a shoestring by her grandfather, Mr. James M. Imahara, shortly after World War II.
Wanda Metz Chase is a 1984 graduate of LSU School of Landscape Architecture. Upon graduation, when she received the Excellence in Plants award, Mrs. Chase worked several years as a landscape accounts manager with the J. R. Ross Company in Dallas, then moved to Woodbine, Maryland, as marketing representative for Chapel Valley Landscape.
In 1987, she returned to Baton Rouge to join her uncle Walter Imahara at Imahara’s Landscape Company. She introduced new business concepts and youthful enthusiasm, leading the Company to become a “design, install and maintenance” business. She is a licensed Landscape Architect and past president of the Baton Rouge Landscape Association. Among many civic commitments, she accepted an appointment by the mayor to the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Tree Commission, and served as Louisiana’s lobbyist to the American Nursery and Landscape Association (1993-2007), representing state horticultural and agricultural interests in Washington, D.C.
In 1993, Mrs. Chase received recognition as the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association’s Young Nurseryperson of the Year, and in 1995 was honored with the Distinguished David Laird Award from the Southern Nurserymen’s Association, the first Louisianian and first female to receive this award presented by the sixteen states of the southeast regional association.
In January, 2000, she was honored as the 2000 Louisiana Nurseryperson of the Year at the Gulf States Horticultural Exposition in Mobile, Alabama. She served as the Education chairperson for the Southern Nurserymen’s Association 1999-2007, and is an industry spokesperson on gardening, design and business management within the profession. Mrs. Chase served as the first female and youngest president of the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association, representing a $1.3-billion industry of state growers, retailers and contractors, as climbed the ranks to Presidency in 2007 of the National Landscape Association in Washington D.C.