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The (not so) secret garden

Stan and Boots Swens are eager to welcome neighbors to their Bossier City home as part of the Northwest Louisiana Master Gardeners 2014 Le Tour des Jardins.

Bossier couple display their hard work on NWLA Master Gardeners’ tour

Stan and Boots Swens are eager to welcome neighbors to their Bossier City home.

The couple is usually seen sitting on their wrap around porch of their Greenacres Place home in north Bossier, where they have added extra rocking chairs for other to sit and enjoy the view. The Swens, however, are overjoyed when neighbors ask to see what’s behind the wooden gate leading to the backyard.

Through the gate is a backyard oasis, filled with cozy sitting areas, vibrant colored flowers, aromatic herbs and soothing water features. The Swens pride themselves on the fact that they planned it, planted it and nurtured it all to life.

“Gardening gives us a lot of satisfaction. We like to watch it grow,” Boots said. “Spring is great because it’s like a new awakening every year.”

Picture 013The Swens will be opening their backyard oasis to the public on May 3 and 4 during the Northwest Louisiana Master Gardeners 2014 Le Tour des Jardins. The annual spring garden tour features a select group of private homes belonging to local master gardeners, who ultimately open their homes to the public and allow them into the colorful, fragrant spaces they work so hard to maintain.

This year’s garden tour will take attendees through six beautiful private gardens in Shreveport and Bossier.  The Swens, who are the only Bossier City home on the tour, will showcase their whimsical fairy gardens, which can be enjoyed from multiple seating areas, as well as their garden of fresh vegetables, greenhouse and assorted plants and flowers, including river birch, confederate rose, coral bean, angel trumpet, and much more.

Gardening is a love shared by both Stan and Boots. They married while Stan was in the Air Force and not only did their love bloom, but so did their love for the outdoors and gardening.

 “We put in a garden every time we moved. Wherever we went, we had a space that we created together,” Stan said. “It never feels like it was a chore either because we both love doing it.”

The two make quite a gardening team. Boots has a knack for design and color while Stan is the handy man, constructing their backyard arbor and greenhouse with his own two hands.

Boots said she wants the front and back yards to be an extension of her home.

“We want others to enjoy it and for them to see our love for gardening,” she said. “We do it all ourselves and we hope to pass our love on to others. It’s fun to get out and dig a little in the dirt.”

Their favorite section of the backyard is the portico, where they sit and enjoy a nice glass of wine together or entertain family and friends with a backyard dinner party.

Stan said it has taken three years to get the property looking the way it does now.

“It is a full time job, but we enjoy doing what we do,” he said. “It’s like a child. It takes both of us and is a constant work of love.”

Tour hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 4. Advance tickets are $10 and can be purchased at any Citizens National Bank, or by calling the Master Gardeners office at (318) 698-0010. Tickets may also be purchased at any garden on the days of the tour for $12.

For more information, visit www.lsuagcenter.com/nwlamg.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.