Hilltop Arboretum

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Baton Rouge, LA
United States
Hilltop Arboretum

Landscape Information

Hilltop Nursery

In 1929 Emory and Annette Smith purchased fourteen acres on Highland Road, just south of the campus of Louisiana State University, as a country retreat. An effort to save hundreds of redbud seedlings on the edge of the property soon led to the establishment of Hilltop Nursery. The nursery grew by establishing native ornamentals gathered from the nearby woodland and meadows, combined with annuals and perennials grown in the garden. The nursery’s plan, designed by Emory Smith, is intended to echo the form of a cathedral, with a central hall or nave of open grass, passageways with “walls” that were formed by trees, shrubs, and bamboo, and columns represented by tall, mature tree trunks. In 1981 the property was donated to the university as a teaching tool for the School of Landscape Architecture. Since 2005, several master plans, shaped in part by the landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand and planting designer Wayne Womack, have guided the development and restoration of the nursery into a full-fledged arboretum, with a focus on building a collection of significant and unique native shrubs and trees.