ISSUE 70  |  Spring Fling

The Garden Chronicles: A New York Writer Moves to New Orleans

April 30, 2013 10:00 AM

BY Michelle Slatalla

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Across the street from the Garden District mansion where vampire novelist Anne Rice used to live, writer Julia Reed bought a three-story Greek Revival house in New Orleans—barely a year before Hurricane Katrina swept through town.

Reed and her husband spent the next few years renovating the storm-damaged house, which became the subject of her book The House on First Street. For help outdoors, they turned to Nashville-based landscape architects Page/Duke, who re-imagined the space as a classic courtyard garden:

Photographs by Page/Duke.

Above: Ferns and azaleas flank the iron garden gate at the house on the corner of Chestnut and First streets.

Above: Reed documented the story of how both her house and her city got rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina in a memoir she wrote on her laptop. A few days before she was due to turn in the manuscript, the house was burglarized and her computer—on which she had stored the only copy—was stolen, forcing her to rewrite the book.

Above: Of the Page/Duke design philosophy, partner Gavin Duke says: “We like to use trees to form a canopy; which would create an outdoor room.”

Above: After the storm and contractor problems,”my friend William Dunlap, an artist whose work graces our walls, gave me a spot-on working title: ‘A Year in Provence Meets The Poseidon Adventure,’ ” Reed wrote in Elle Decor.

Says Landscape Architect Ben Page, “I am definitely in the reductionist phase of my design journey. I really do passionately believe that less is more.”

Above: Creating intimate areas within a larger space achieves a sense of privacy. To dampen outside noise, Page/Duke planted shrubs and trees.

Above: A fountain in the courtyard and, in the distance, a garden bench enhance the sense of space.

Above: The brick driveway edged with ivy.

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