Thirty years ago, when Karl and Cecily Turner purchased the Uptown property where they raised their family, the purchase was as much about the triple corner lot as it was about the historic 1860 cottage that resides there. With plenty of green space all around, there was endless potential for a garden and outdoor living.
“We loved him because he had good bones and a nice yard,” says Karl Turner, owner of A La Carte Specialty Foods and who loves nature photography and gardening. “I love working in the garden, and that’s where my wife finds me most of the time.”
In fact, both Turners use their outdoor space every day. Cecily Turner, a retired pediatrician, leaves the gardening to her husband, but the couple regularly enjoy morning coffee and evening wine in different areas of the yard. Recently they transformed the garage into a pool house and guest house with a fully equipped outdoor kitchen.
Karl Turner was introduced to gardening as a child in Kentucky, where his father tended a vegetable garden with collard greens and mustard greens. His mother and grandmother had green thumbs, and Turner says he spent a lot of time playing outside and learning to appreciate nature. To this day, he prefers working on a project outdoors rather than sitting inside watching TV.
In 2019, the Turners, then empty nesters, called Indigo Landscape’s Kevin Green for help with the yard. Just as they had done inside the house, they opted for traditional landscape choices in keeping with the historic architecture of the house.
Indian hawthorn, playing off the mauve exterior, and magenta-tinged crimson fire (loropetalum), provide privacy along the front fence. There are beds for annual flowers and edibles.
To the right of the house, a paved patio is shaded by a wooden pergola. A lush spring display of Peggy Martin roses — named for the Plaquemines Parish resident who discovered the hardy ancient variety survived post-Hurricane Katrina flooding — climbs the pergola and blooms several times a year.
The roses were an addition that Cecily Turner wanted, and in the two years since they were planted, says Karl Turner, the roses grew to about 18 feet in length.
Evidence of his hobby finds its way into the house. He takes care of the flowers and the vegetable gardens, the weeds, changes the seasonal plants, the claws and the prunes and, like a true horticulturist, has created a series of “garden rooms”.
His bonsai garden, inspired by a garden he had seen in California, has a base of black rocks and shelves with miniature trees along the fence. A member of the Greater New Orleans Bonsai Society, he designed it to add a minimalist feng shui balance to the landscape.
Under a tall Japanese magnolia that blooms around Carnival, he’s created a shaded seating area that the couple calls “the chill-out section.”
He also built a fish pond in a quiet location cooled by evening breezes. A lion-headed iron spout the couple found in Denham Springs is mounted on a wall, covered in creeping fig. The spout feeds the tranquil water feature.
When a family member had a surplus of pavers, Karl Turner laid his own path, a task he is proud of.
Shortly after the professional landscaping was completed, and just in time for the pandemic that would keep people at home, the Turners decided to turn the garage into a pool house/guest house and built a kitchen. exterior.
Working with Poree Construction, owned by Cecily Turner’s brother, they transformed the structure into a bright and airy space with white walls, ceramic tile floors and a newly remodeled bathroom.
Taking inspiration from the main house, which has several stained glass windows, they found an antique stained glass window at Ricca’s Architectural Sales and made it a focal point of the pool house interior.
“The grapes reminded me of Bacchus, and it’s a great design for this room because we entertain and hang out there,” says Karl Turner.
The outdoor kitchen is equipped with a pellet grill, which uses wood pellets rather than charcoal or gas; a 30-inch Blackstone griddle that can heat up to 500 degrees and is great for searing a steak, says Karl Turner; two refrigerators; sink; and granite countertops. A hardwood ceiling with a huge fan keeps things cool on hot days.
“We loved sharing this kitchen space with our friends and family,” says Karl Turner, who found the griddle especially handy after Hurricane Ida caused power outages.
As the garden evolves, he sometimes implements an idea he pulled from a magazine, but he never followed a pattern, preferring instead to let things develop organically.
He loves the color purple and things that complement purple. But there are no hard and fast rules to its process. Time, patience and dedication are part of his gardening DNA.
“Every morning, before going to work, I am in the yard,” he says. “And when I come home at night, I do the same thing.”
A LIFE OF ART
Within the Turner residence, the couple cultivates a second passion: original works of art by artists who are mainly African-American and African.
“A piece by William Tolliver was our first, and it was shortly after that we fell in love with a piece by Aziz featuring Josephine Baker,” says Karl Turner of the colorful collection, which began when the couple acquired the home in 1993 and is on display. throughout the interior.
The couple also own paintings by local artists such as James Michalopoulos, Sean Friloux and William Hemmerling, as well as pieces from their travels in Africa, China, Romania and Italy.
“Although Michalopoulos is well known for his paintings of New Orleans houses, we have one that depicts Louis Armstrong,” says Karl Turner.
Both Turners are also artists. Karl Turner loves nature photography, a medium that fits well with his interests in gardening, travel and the outdoors.
Cecily Turner paints watercolours, mostly portraits, but has also dabbled in landscapes. She painted a picture of aspens for her husband after seeing a similar piece in Montana and made watercolors of some of his photographs.
“We have this symbiotic relationship,” says Karl Turner, who dubbed his wife “the artist formerly known as Dr. Turner. She’s been a watercolor artist for 25 years and she’s pretty good at it.
Although the couple’s love of art and their respective talents has not diminished, the real estate needed for the art is diminishing. Asked about the number of paintings in the collection, Karl Turner’s answer sums up the dilemma.
“We’re running out of wall space,” he says.