Temperatures are on the rise, flowers are starting to bloom, and there is a thin dusting of yellow pollen covering everything. That can mean only one thing…spring is in full swing in Cenla! With the changing of the seasons comes an explosion of natural color and there is nowhere better than Cenla for taking in the fabulous flora all while enjoying some Louisiana festival fun!
Natchitoches Bloomin’ on the Bricks
Head to the city of lights on Saturday, March 11th, for Natchitoches’ Annual Bloomin’ on the Bricks event! Held on the historic downtown riverbank, Bloomin’ on the Bricks will feature an exhibit area with lawn and garden vendors, displaying an assortment of items needed to transform your garden and yard! From 9:00am to 2:00pm, vendors will offer varieties of plants, flowers, shrubs, and garden décor available for purchase set against the backdrop of beautiful, historic downtown Natchitoches. Nursery owners from around the area will sell specialized plants such as ferns, bromeliads, herbs, bedding plants and more. Other vendors will sell iron work, landscape materials, yard art, and other decorative items.
Take spring photos with your family at Beau Jardin, the city’s water feature and garden area, located at the far end of the downtown riverbank, near the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum. After snapping shots of smiling faces, treat the kids to something sweet from one of the downtown Front Street businesses or one of the food and beverage vendors on the riverbank. The fun doesn’t stop there; various children’s activities will be available throughout the day!
Bloomin’ on the Bricks is free and open to the public. For more information or to register as a vendor, call (318) 352-2746.
While you’re in Natchitoches, take part in the 2nd annual Gather in the Garden, hosted by the Natchitoches Historic Foundation at the historic Cunningham Law Offices, located at 500 Second Street in Natchitoches. This year will feature two offerings from which to choose. “Breakfast & Blooms” will begin at 9:00am and feature a light breakfast, coffee, juice, and fabulous door prizes, along with a tour of the Mildred Hart Bailey Gardens and a presentation by keynote speaker, Chris Wiesinger, author of “The Bulb Hunter.” Books and bulbs will be available for sale.
“Flutes & Florals” will begin at 1:30pm and will feature a relaxed champagne tour of the gardens while enjoying small dessert offerings and great door prizes. Keynote speaker, Chris Doffitt, Louisiana State Botanist, will present on utilizing drought tolerant, easy-care, native plants in your garden to attract and support bees, butterflies, and birds.
Tickets for each event are $25.00 or $40.00 for both. Tickets to Gather in the Garden also entitle adults over 21 to a complimentary glass of house wine at Maglieaux’s Riverfront Restaurant following the event. To purchase your Gather in the Garden tickets, visit www.natchitocheshf.com/shop.
36th Louisiana Nursery Festival
Just a short drive from anywhere in Cenla is the Nursery Capital of Louisiana, Forest Hill, home to the Louisiana Nursery Festival. The Louisiana Nursery Festival has been a Central Louisiana staple since 1985 and the 36th Festival promises the best of this fan favorite festival of flowers. Held on the third weekend in March, the Festival boasts a multitude of booths, vendors, food, the festival parade, and lots of fun to celebrate the best of the Forest Hill nursery community. This year, the festival will kick off on Thursday, March 16th at 5:00pm, running daily through Sunday, March 19th at the Nursery Festival Grounds, located on Highway 165 at Highway 112 in Forest Hill.
While the plants take center stage during the festival, there will also be a wide variety of vendors offering an array of handmade crafts and other wares, along with items for the yard. As visitors meander around the booths, they will be able to sit in porch swings and chairs, sample homemade jellies and jams, and other delicious treats. Hand-crafted birdhouses of all sizes, squirrel feeders, wind chimes, pottery, iron works, garden tools, jewelry, clothing, handbags, soaps and lotions, custom pet supplies, and this year’s festival t-shirt will be offered for sale.
All types of shrubs and trees, most abundant with blooms, are available in a variety of sizes. Rose bushes, disease-resistant Knock-Out Rose, are offered in a host of colors. Also, be sure not to forget your bedding plants that provide color to your garden all summer long. Always popular are the beautiful blooming bromeliads from Jay Mac Tropicals. Bromeliad plants provide a colorful and exotic touch to any interior, evoking a sense of the tropics right here at home. The plants are prized for their thick foliage that grows in a natural rosette, and Jay Mac Tropicals has many to choose from.
If you are stumped as to what to plant and where, just ask one of the garden experts available on site. While you’re in the area, be sure to visit the numerous local nurseries that will be open for the weekend, like Poole Brothers Nursery, located just up Highway 112. They feature a wide variety of perennials, azaleas, vegetable plants, ferns, color baskets, fruit trees, pottery, wrought iron, and more!
All that shopping is sure to work up an appetite! You’ll find festival favorites like chicken, shrimp, pork and even gator on a stick, turkey legs, corn dogs, nachos, blooming onions, hamburgers, Chinese and Mexican cuisine, funnel cakes, snow cones, and fresh-squeezed lemonade!
While you complete all your shopping, the kids can enjoy the midway rides. The Ferris wheel can be seen as you come down the highway and the excited shouts from the kids lead the way. There are rides suitable for kids of all ages and for the young at heart. Bracelets can be purchased for $20.00 in advance or $25.00 at the festival for unlimited rides from 5:00pm to 10:00pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights and also from 11:00am to 4:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Individual ride tickets will be also be available. Individual tickets are $1.50, 15 tickets for $20.00, or 50 tickets for $50.00.
Kent House Spring Herb Day
Join Kent Plantation House on Saturday, April 1st, for their Annual Herb Day Arts and Crafts Festival & Yard Sale. The event is a favorite among plant lovers in Central Louisiana. Despite the uncertainty of spring weather, crowds turn out early every year. The day will feature an amazing selection of quality herbs and plants on the grounds of the oldest standing structure in Central Louisiana!
Always held on Saturday in April, Herb Day & Yard Sale is a wonderful time with plenty of beautiful herbs and flowers for your selection, including sage, garlic, parsley, chives, lavender, oregano, onion, rosemary, thyme, bay, lemon grass and several different mints. Perennials, plants and grasses for landscaping are also for sale. There are also many local artisans, sharing their one-of-a-kind crafted baked/canned goods and beautiful custom-made craft items. The indoor Yard Sale is always huge. Arrive early to get the best selection!
There will also be gardening experts on hand to help you select plants for your yard and home. After selecting your plants, browse the wide variety of local arts and crafts vendors ready to help you with purchases. The gigantic Yard Sale will be held, rain or shine, in the Kent House Visitors Center from 8:00am to 1:00pm. Visitors to Herb Day will have the opportunity to view the Kitchen, Herb and Parterre gardens as well as the old rose bushes on the grounds.
Herb Day Arts and Crafts Festival & Yard Sale is free and open to the public. Kent Plantation House is located at 3601 Bayou Rapides Road in Alexandria. For more information, call (318) 487-5998 or visit www.kenthouse.org.
Spring is in Full Swing in Cenla, so don’t miss your opportunity to get out and enjoy the great weather, natural beauty, and legendary festival fun that Central Louisiana has to offer!