Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on May 22, 2008. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Home gardeners enjoy dishing dirt on plants
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
VERONA -- Home gardeners want to share their dirty little secrets.
They will forego any inconvenience if they feel they can help even one person. Such enthusiasm for plants and nature is why some people across the state will drive a good distance to exhibit at or attend field days, such as the recent Spring Garden Day at the North Mississippi Extension and Research Center in Verona.
Lelia Kelly, horticulturist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said she thinks the popularity of gardening events is all about the sense of community many Mississippians feel.
“People who garden have a need for knowledge and a desire to share,” she said. “A garden day is a great opportunity for people who enjoy plants to network, interact informally and exchange new ideas.”
Melvin Campbell of Verona, who has exhibited with other members of the Old South Iris Society at past garden days, decided to venture out on his own this year. His daylily cuttings, which he produced for sale, attracted a crowd.
“One lady stayed behind and we talked for a long time,” he said. “She helped us pack when the garden show ended, and I learned more about daylilies from her than she did from me.”
Campbell is president of the Old South Iris Society. Although he loves irises because of their stately lines and color, he has developed a passion for daylilies and is experimenting with hybridization.
“Growing up I always had chores to do in the garden because it was part of my job as a member of the family,” Campbell said. “I don't remember exactly when that perception grew from a chore to a labor of love, but it happened. It is thrilling to watch your babies grow.”
Mary Hodges, of Nettleton, is another member of the iris society who exhibited for the first time at Verona. She said she has no favorites among the irises, daylilies, roses and hostas, or plantain lilies, she grows.
“I just like plants,” she said. “2008 has been a wonderful year for gardening.”
“Earth Lady” columnist Margaret Gratz, who writes for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, said the gardeners she meets at shows often give her inspiration. A self-published author, Gratz just released her second book, “At Home in the Earth Lady's Garden.”
“People who love plants love to talk,” she said. “If you love plants, you will always have something to talk about and something to write about.”
MSU annually hosts a variety of garden and field days at its research and extension centers throughout the state. Visit http://www.msucares.edu for more information.