Coastal and Tropical South Editor
Baton Rouge, LA
Sasanquas are one of my favorite shrubs.
Containers of staghorn fern decorate this small garden space.
Peppers provide a colorful and tasty harvest from my garden.
Nandina produce brilliant red berries in fall, providing great winter color and food for our feathered friends.
Nellie Neal learned to garden at her grandfather's knee in Louisiana, sold her first eggplants door to door at age 7, and from her profits she promptly made her first nursery purchase -- a red-flowered, wax begonia. Her family and its plants spread across her home state and neighboring Mississippi and Alabama. Their journeys between family homes began with home fried chicken for lunch in the car and ended with cuttings of favorite plants stuck in wax milk cartons to take home. No wonder each house felt so comfy -- each had the same roses, altheas, phlox and daylilies!
Nellie graduated from Louisiana State University in 1975 with a B.S. degree combining English and horticulture as a prelude to her graduate studies there in horticulture. She's worked the field: from greenhouse operator and garden center horticulturist to landscape gardener and garden columnist. Since 1990 she has made a career of garden writing that currently ranges from a weekly question and answer column in Mississippi's Clarion Ledger newspaper to the recent update of Ortho's Greenhouses and a host of gardening how-to's on eHow.com.
She was a founder of Loose Dirt newsletter for Southern Gardeners and coauthor of The Garden Primer for the Deep South. She contributes gardening articles to magazines, books and newsletters in the Southeast and nationally.
Devoted to passing her passion along to anybody who'll listen, Nellie also works as a horticulture consultant, speaks to groups, hosts radio programs, and gardens year-round in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi. She shares the Louisiana garden with her oldest friends, Jackie and Brian; the Jackson place is home to the eccentric landscape she tends with her husband Dave and their four children. Every journey between family homes still features food -- usually fruit and crackers these days -- and plants of all sorts traveling the roads from one comfy garden to another.