The New Orleans Botanical Garden has its roots in the Great Depression as a project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Originally known as the City Park Rose Garden, the garden opened in 1936 as New Orleans’ first public classical garden. It is one of the few remaining examples of public garden design from the WPA and Art Deco Period remaining today as a showcase of three notable talents: New Orleans Architect Richard Koch, Landscape Architect William Wiedorn, and Artist Enrique Alférez.
Reborn as the New Orleans Botanical Garden in the early 1980s, the garden’s collections contain over 2,000 varieties of plants from all over the world set among the nation’s largest stand of mature live oaks. The site contains the Conservatory of the Two Sisters, the New Orleans Historic Train Garden, the Yakumo Nihon Teien Japanese Garden and theme gardens containing aquatics, roses, native plants, ornamental trees and shrubs and perennials. The garden also encompasses the Pavilion of the Two Sisters, the Garden Study Center, and the Lath House.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina dealt a serious setback to the Botanical Garden, City Park, and the New Orleans region. As a result of the category 3+ winds, there was serious tree damage which was followed by flooding in the garden by as much as three feet which covered our plant collection for ten days to two weeks. As a result, the vast majority of our collection was lost. The loss of electrical power during our evacuation led to the death of containerized plants that were above the floodwaters. Such plants included our collection of orchids, staghorn ferns, bromeliads, and other plants lost through heat buildup in our greenhouses and the disabling of automatic watering systems.
The Botanical Garden reopened to the public and made our facilities available for functions beginning on March 4th, 2006- just over six months after Katrina- thanks in large part to volunteers and donors from throughout the United States and worldwide..