Charbel Harb has run his eponymous garden center, Harb’s Oasis, for the past 38 years, specializing in what he calls “water gardens”—using fountains and streams to create free-flowing paradises in people’s backyards all over Baton Rouge. After so much success, he decided to turn his attention to local charities, and this weekend he will help host the 17th annual Pond & Garden Tour, where the curious can visit eight specially selected gardens to glean inspiration and enjoy a stroll through nature to benefit Families Helping Families of Greater Baton Rouge.
“It’s just interesting to be able to experience these water gardens, which tend to require a lifestyle that not everybody has,” says Harb of the hard work that goes into the gardens on tour. “Of course there are beautiful flowers and other details, but many of the strengths of these gardens are in how they demonstrate how to live alongside natural flowing water, or how to create a natural habitat in backyards to attracting butterflies, bees, dragonflies—those kinds of things.”
Gardens on the tour, he says, will also highlight beautiful patios, aesthetic visions, and how to incorporate a garden around outdoor kitchens.
“One of our gardens this year is Chef John Folse’s White Oak Plantation,” says Harb. “There are flowing streams there, chicken houses, rabbit houses—animals and natural beauty.”
Even Harb’s own home garden, which displays an extensive variety of regional flowers, will show up on the tour. Always on the lookout for kindred spirits, Harb also recruited his neighbor to display his garden, which features an especially elaborate water system complete with swimming koi fish.
“There will be a surprise for everyone, in some way,” says Harb. “The important thing, though, is that it all benefits Families Helping Families this year. Since the start, we’ve raised more than $118,000 for different charities, so we’re excited to keep going.”