"I Saw in Louisiana a Live Oak Growing"

In January of this year, I visited Avery Island, Louisiana, home of the infamous "Tabasco" sauce.  Invited by a member of the McIlhenny family and travelling with Jeannette Whitson from Garden Variety Design in  Nashville, we had the great privilege of visiting the areas of the island that are not open to the public.   The purpose of the visit was to photograph the beautiful trees but the experience was so much more.    Not only did we get to explore the extraordinary beauty of the island, but we were welcomed into the archives by the company's historian and curator.  These archives hold a treasure trove of documents, photographs and artefacts dating back 150 years.  As a beneficiary, the forethought of the early McIlhenny family to preserve all of this for future reference is remarkable.    Of course, we also braved taste testing a freshly opened barrel of Tabasco chilli mash,  ate what I consider to be the world's best Gumbo in the local canteen and were serenaded by the host (who grew up on the island) as she "called" an alligator to us while we sat watching the birds in the swamp.  And then there are the Southern Live Oak Trees...so magnificent and graceful with Spanish Moss delicately flowing from the branches.  The tenderness  with which these living legends are preserved on Avery Island was absolutely heart warming and it was an honour to capture them on camera.