Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Private Marsh

On Mother's Day, we visited my sister and her family for an outdoor fish fry dinner at the home of one of her sons.  (far right)
Our nephew and his family live near the small town of Port Barre (/bɛəri/) in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana.  The town began in 1760 as an Indian trading post at the place where Bayou Courtableau flows into Bayou Teche.  The most distinguishing thing about this little south Louisiana village today is that it derives 51% of its income from traffic tickets, so you better slow down when going through Port Barre.

Eric and Sonja live out in the country on several rural acres that attract a variety of birds and animals such as bobcats, deer and a bountiful supply of large rabbits.  Sonja was even startled to find a large boar starring at her one day.
Their lovely home sits behind what we call in Louisiana, a slough, pronounced slu'.
Louisiana has some of the most extensive wetlands in the United States, from broad coastal marshes that provide critical buffer against hurricanes to dark bottomland swamps.  This mini swamp in their front yard creates such a  picturesque setting for their home.
 The plants that thrive in the waterlogged environment of the Louisiana Wetlands are known as hydrophytics. Such plants have evolved adaptations to overcome the lack of oxygen.

Examples include the cypress tree, which has "knees," where its roots bend to reach above high water levels.

One of the most beautiful sights in this slough is the draping moss.
Spanish moss, sometimes called Grandfather's Graybeard, is soft, graceful, eerie and beautiful all at the same time. A romantic symbol of the South, it is greenish silver after a rain, and grayish-silver at other times.
  As an epiphyte, an air plant that lives upon other plants, it absorbs nutrients and water from the air and rainfall. It is not a biological parasite in the same sense as some other epiphytes that sap nutrients from the tree.
Spanish moss can grow strands up to 20 feet long especially on Live Oak and Cypress tree branches.
There are other plants that are typical of the Louisiana slough, or backwater marshes.  Reeds, which are common to marshes, transport oxygen through hollow tubes.
There are a variety of grasses growing in Eric's slough such as this Marshhay Cordgrass.
This thick grass is called Roseau Cane and is the tallest grass in marshes and swamps.
Another common plant is the dwarf palmetto.  This shrub-like palm generally does not get as tall as its big brother.  The circular, fan-like leaves are composed of 16 to 40 pale- or blue-green blades.
There is an interesting history regarding the palmetto plant.  The native Indians used it for various purposes because it was so plentiful.  For instance, the Houma Indians used the juice crushed from the small roots as an eye medicine to relieve irritation.  The dried roots were taken for high blood pressure.  A tea from these dried roots was used for kidney ailments.
The fan-shaped leaves were also used to thatch homes in south Louisiana.  The leaves were sun-bleached and then braided into thin strips and sewn together to make baskets and other useful articles.  These baskets were made by the Houma Indians as late as the 1930's and are unique to Louisiana.  Contemporary people still use the palmetto leaves to weave baskets and to make small dolls with hair of Spanish moss.

It is a very common plant in south Louisiana.  In fact, we even have a village named for it.

I will end this post with other pictures from this lovely yard and home.







 Thank you Eric and Sonja for sharing your little bit of heaven with us.

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6 comments:

  1. Great photos, Elizabeth! It looks like Paradise! Have a wonderful week.

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  2. Thank you for such an informative blog. That was very interesting to this Kentucky-raised girl now residing in Florida. Beautiful pictures too.

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  3. Beautiful shots of the marsh and garden. What a wonderful place to live.

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  4. So very beautiful!

    Thanks so much for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!!!

    Blessings,
    Cindy

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  5. OH MY GOODNESS! Such beauty! And all sooo very different from here. I really enjoyed hearing all about it. What a gorgeous place to live! Have a good week!

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