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|Hands-on love at Biedenharn|
When Towana Lee goes to work, she spends her day in Monroe's own "little piece of heaven."
That "little piece of heaven" would be Biedenharn Museum and Gardens.
Lee has served as head gardener at Biedenharn Museum and Gardens since 2003. She moved here from Denham Springs in 2002 because she wanted a change of scenery.
However, when she moved, she didn't expect the scenery to be as spectacular as it is for her today.
She learned about the Biedenharn museum through an acquaintance. It just so happened the museum was in need of another gardener shortly after she arrived in Monroe.
A gardener all her life, Lee was astounded when she first walked into Biedenharn Museum and Gardens.
"It was breathtaking to come through that gate," Lee said. "When you see the fountain you are just in awe."
Almost every day, Lee meets someone new as visitors from all over the country stop by to tour the museum and gardens.
While she enjoys meeting new people, Lee's passion will always be for the garden and the work that must be conducted there each day.
"If I had to choose one thing as my favorite, it would definitely be the work," she said. "When you plant something and watch it grow and mature, you step back and say, 'I did that.' "
"That's very rewarding," she said. "I love the hands-on work. I have always loved working outdoors."
Not everyone can say they work in a setting as beautiful as Biedenharn, Lee said.
"The grounds are just lovely," she said. "It's awesome, and so peaceful. I just love it."
Lee's supervisor, Christine Hilliard, once took care of the gardens herself. She is assistant director of the museum today.
"She has taught me so much," Lee said of Hilliard. "She doesn't get recognized as much, but I got all my training and guidance from her. She has entrusted me with the gardens. I just love her dearly."
Lee and her two assistants constantly change plants and tend to flowers throughout the garden. She estimates there are about 50 different species of plants located at the garden.
"There's always something blooming throughout the year, and, as the seasons change, we change," she said.
The museum typically holds special events year-round, and it's open regularly for people who want to tour it.
"If you are looking for a little piece of heaven, then you have to stop by," Lee said. "I guarantee you will leave with a special feeling. If you want to get away from the day-to-day problems, come and visit us and sit back and relax."