Advice from a Master Gardener: Garden watching, part two

Published 4:28 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Whether my husband and I are traveling down winding country roads or busy city streets, I can always entertain myself by seeing what people have growing in their yards.

The landscaping themes range from disastrous to extraordinary, sometimes within a city block, providing no end of entertainment for a gardening enthusiast.

In looking back on all the gardens I have passed in my lifetime, I would have to say, my favorite ones are those that surprised me. The lovely little garden that sat in the middle of a blighted row of homes, right where you least expected it or one in a middle class neighborhood that was head and shoulders above all the others. One such garden was in my hometown.

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Everyday on my way home from school there was a yard on the corner of one neighborhood that always had the most beautiful vegetable garden. It was a garden for all seasons. I remember corn tassels waving gently in the summer breeze and large bushes bent down under the weight of big, red tomatoes. In the fall, the ground was covered by large ruffled bunches of greens and giant broccoli and cabbage heads. The soil never lay idle. There was always something being planted or growing green and large. On most days, you could spot a small figure stooped among the rows wearing a big straw hat. Despite being smack in the middle of my self-absorbed teenage years, I was intrigued by this magician with a hoe. Every day I looked forward to seeing what was going on in his little green oasis. I never did meet my gardener, but the thought of that bent back among those straight, green rows makes me smile even today, so many years later.

I doubt that he ever knew, when he was sweating under the summer sun and digging in the dirt, that he had an audience. That he might be bringing a smile to someone in the middle of a bad day, or inspiring a young person to plant a garden themselves. In short, I doubt he ever knew that he was making a difference to the people who routinely passed him by. When I am stooped over in my garden sowing seeds for the spring to come or just pulling weeds, I like to think that just maybe I am making a difference to a passerby too.

By Liz Flynt, MSU Pearl River County Extension Service Master Gardener