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Mississippi: Thanks for the memories
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Mississippi, you are the best, and that makes it extra hard to tell you I have accepted an offer to become vice president for college advancement at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Ga.
It seems like only yesterday that my family moved to Mississippi. I had dark hair and children just starting school. Although I hardly knew anyone, you welcomed my family with open arms. It was 1995, and I could hardly wait for the opportunity to help implement the Mississippi Medallion Award program. Along the way, I met real gardeners who actually got out and tilled the soil. Many of them could teach most professors about plant propagation or how to grow daylilies, irises or any other plant, for that matter.
These same gardeners have had a fearless appetite to try new plants. Their excitement was like fuel to my fire. From Ocean Springs to Corinth, Brookhaven to Water Valley and everywhere in between, I have found that Mississippi’s gardeners can hold their own with any of those spotlighted in a national gardening magazine.
It has been my pleasure to bring many of these Mississippi gardens to you in the Southern Gardening TV segment for the past 14 years. Many times when I spoke in other states, audience members would beg to know where they could get the plants featured in those segments. In almost every instance, I could name several growers and retail garden centers in Mississippi where they could be obtained. You see, what often makes our Mississippi gardens so special is our Mississippi nurseries.
The national media has a penchant for placing Mississippi at the bottom of the list in every imaginable category, but I assure you, our growers and retail garden centers are at the top of the list for variety and excellence.
Since 1997 the Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association has been sending me to the California Pack trials so that I could report back to the industry not only about what plants were going to be hot, but also to make arrangements to get the plants for trials at Mississippi State University’s Truck Crops Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.
It’s this joint effort between the Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association and MSU that will bring you a slate of the finest Mississippi Medallion winners for 2010.
I also want to recognize Mississippi’s landscape architects and landscape contractors. These professionals are second to none and deserve the national spotlight of the home gardening channel. They should be featured in fine coffee-table books and seen on the cover of national magazines. I always relished any opportunity when I was able to take our Southern Gardening TV crew to film an incredibly beautiful landscape created by these professionals.
I really want to issue a heartfelt thanks to the MSU Office of Agricultural Communications. At times it seemed the whole department worked tirelessly to make the Southern Gardening TV segment, radio program and newspaper column a success.
In the end, however, it was you who made these endeavors successful, and I will always be grateful for that. My wife, Jan, and I love you and will always treasure the time when our paths crossed. Always remember: the “green thumb” is earned by getting it brown in soil preparation. Sincerely, Norm.