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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Calendars: An Important Gardening Tool

It takes me about this long to get 2023 put away and admit that 2024 has taken over. Every year it takes me about this long to put the correct date on checks and all those other papers to be filled out. As I am getting rid of my old calendars and bringing in the new ones I realize how important calendars are to gardeners. I have the daily highs and lows and rainfall tracked back to 2010. I know you can get this information from the computer but I like to know what the weather really did right here in Ridgeland in my little world.

The weather at the Jackson airport is sometimes very different then what happens here. Calendars make gardening easier because timing is very important on planting dates, pruning dates, Chemical use and most of all remembering what day it is! One of the important dates that I love is February 5th. February 5 is the date I call dead of winter, the best time to prune dormant plants. It seems to be the magic day even with the weird weather changes we've been seeing lately that gives enough cold time for plants that get pruned to get as dormant as there going to get.  February 5 is the time for preemerge to be applied to the lawns to keep those weeds from germinating in your beds and lawns. February 5 is a time when herbicides can be applied while the lawn is dormant.

I love this date because it is the time to create new beds using composted materials and a tiller so when the nursery fills up I can begin planting right into the beds. On most days off my truck and trailer are full of Mimi's plants she wants to plant and enough leftover to fill my day off. Mimi and I spend our evenings in February walking around our yard and discussing new additions. She has the creative eye for working with colors of plant foliage that made contrasting colors pop.

Mimi has the innate talent to bring colors and textures together like no one I've ever met. I see her getting inspiration from Garden books, magazines gardens in other states, and following garden gurus such as Flora Grubbs in San Francisco and Dan HInkley from Monrovia Growers. The inspiration that Mimi garners from places that turned her on Is her art form that she uses in her garden at home, the layout of our garden center, and for the pot scapes that she creates for our customers. Mimi does the buying for garden works and buys what she thinks will allow people to get inspired similarly to. It's beautiful to watch develop and I have begun to speak the language of Mimi, if you know her you know what I mean. She knows I and others can handle the logistics of putting her ideas together. She describes her ideas to me ever so delicately so I'll understand the creative end to her vision. I'm getting better at catching on now that we've been gardening together for 26 years and so many of her ideas have fully developed into maturity. Our 6 acre yard is stunning with the layers and textures and colors, it still blows my mind every day. Mimi comes from a farming family in the Delta. That says a lot, Delta people are not like us regular people. If you think about the most creative artists, hard-working, and just a little bit crazy people you know they are most likely from the Delta. I've never met anyone from there that I don't like for some reason or another.

When we first married Mimi was teaching at a high school in Madison. Before school and after coaching cross-country in the afternoons mimi would help me with my new greenhouse growing operation. After a year of that she threw in the teacher towel and joined the garden works family for good. We have been doing the best we could as a bunch of men can do at a garden center, but we didn't see the light until she came sashaying into our world. She began painting walls crazy colors, displaying inspirational instead of rowing up plants, she would paint us if we stood still long enough. It didn't take long for us to see that there is another way to show people what plants can do when used together correctly to give people the inspiration to go home and try it for themselves. We used to visit a garden center in Austin Texas that would get her riled up for months afterwards. She wanted that look and feel and decided to go for it. I remember the first time we entered the Big Red Sun and Johnny Cash was playing loud over there speakers, Mimi's eyes got big and she declared that is what it should be like to visit the garden center and by golly, if we are going to work our fingers to the bone it should be at a cool place for us to do that everyday. That day is really what gives Garden Works the look and the funky vibe that it has today.

We are getting ready for people to come take a walk through Mimi's mind this spring. It's like taking a trip but never leaving the farm. I'm sure all the family owned and operated garden centers have their story and you will see so many ways to cause a gardener to get excited enough to take it home and try for themselves. I suggest putting on your calendar to make a point once a week to try out a new Garden center and dive in. Talk to the friendly people that want you to be successful in your gardening trials and tribulations. When they asked if they can help you have a conversation, who knows it may change your life. Remember gardening is perseverance so go persevere!


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