Flower beds being planted at Picayune schools

Published 7:30 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Flower beds and other greenery have been sprouting up all over the Picayune school district, thanks to the green thumbs and work of two women.

Since November of last year campus maintenance employees Joy Laizer and her sister Rosealee Bartley have been setting up and caring for a number of flower beds in the city’s school district.

The year round work keeps the women busy as they plant and care for a number of annuals, trees and bushes. When the planting season is slow, they help out with maintenance duties in the school district, said maintenance director Arnold Smith.

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Those dozen or so flower beds district wide are not going unnoticed.

“We’ve gotten a lot of compliments on a lot of our beds,” Laizer said.

Bartley said even students have praised the work she and her sister have accomplished with the beds. Sometimes, though, their work goes unnoticed for a few days. Laizer said they spelled out PMHS in front of the high school with a type of bush called boxwoods but students did not notice it until days later. Smith said those shrubs should begin to fill out the longer they are there and after a pruning or two.

“We can’t start pruning them until four months after we’ve planted them,” Smith said.

Usually the principal of each school will design the beds and the women will build them. Now that they have proved themselves, the principals are beginning to give them some creative freedom.

“(The principals have) been real happy with the work they’ve done,” Smith said.

Most of the plants the women use are selected due to their resilience to the weather as well as for their looks. Before they started on any of the beds in the district, they attended a seminar early last year. Another is planned for later this year. At the seminars the sisters are shown the different types of flowers and the conditions they prefer, Laizer said. They also were taught which flowers are native to Mississippi and which are not, so they could make a more informed decision on the types of flowers to use.

Smith said the work the sisters do will be a permanent addition to the school district.

So far, they have planted about 522 plants in the district. Those include 33 Indian hawthorns, 38 boxwoods, two spiral trees, four crape myrtles, 12 Knockout roses, four oaks, two maples and a weeping willow. This year the crew has kept a record of the expense on the work, which will help them formulate a budget for the consecutive years.

Laizer and Bartley said they would like to thank Smith and the employees at Paul Bounds for their help in the work they do.