This year has started off to be one of big changes and realizations for me. The events that have occurred already are not bad ones, nor ones that don't eventually happen for everyone, but they have been new for me. So far, in January, I woke up on the 16th and realized I was 56 years old. That’s a lot to ponder. That age makes me look down the road differently, not as if I’m coming down life’s home stretch, but in a way that will make me plan more for the final placement of things…both in my life and in my garden.
Another event that has occurred this January, is that both of our children have left my wife, Mimi, and me at home alone. Our daughter, Mia has moved to Greenville, South Carolina, to pursue her dream as a mental health counselor. She wound up in one of the coolest southern towns I've ever seen. It’s apparent that ‘being green' was high on the priority list when they developed that city. Mia lends me advice from her studies of various kinds of therapy for people facing depression and anxiety in this ever-changing world that cuts us off even further from nature. I am interested in the growing use of horticultural therapy for people with these issues. I know, for sure, the benefits of personal therapy through gardening. I reap the benefits every time I get to spend time in my own yard.
Our son, Max, has begun a degree in horticulture at Mississippi State, but is taking a break from school to pursue another new endeavor. He will be working with us at Garden Works to provide a community market featuring local artists, produce, demonstrations, music, and food one Saturday a month. We love his idea because it will give our community something to be excited about and will also support our very talented local craftspeople. I'm not one that gets agitated about the younger generation….you know, the millennial conversation. They are shaking the dust off the old ways; it's needed, necessary and exciting to me. I love talking to that age group and trying to understand the entirely different angle they are coming from. Might as well, right? It’s coming.
Another big one from this January, is the decision to be the new Northside Sun garden writer. I am honored to think that folks will be reading my musings every week. My biggest problem will be stopping myself from writing too much. I like to tie real life stories and history to gardening. As a person that loves being from Mississippi, and staying here, many of you will recognize some of my stories, I’m sure.
But, by far, the biggest thing that has happened to me this January has been the passing of my father, Billy Martinson. My father, better known as Mr. Billy or the El Camino guy, left us with a legacy that I will appreciate forever. TWELVE family members have chosen horticulture as our passion and profession.That's a lot of people from one family to recognize and understand my father’s vision. We all agreed that being a part of this business would be a fun and happy way to live. We all lived it, breathed it, participated in it and got on that road. His legacy doesn't stop with family, either. Scores of people, over his career, wound up in this field after working with us at either Green Oak or Garden Works. My mother, Rita Martinson, had her roll in this picture on so many levels that I would run out of paper telling stories about how she wove this tapestry for us.
Our family started landscaping, advising and offering the best in gardening for Jackson in 1958. The future of his legacy is bright as, yet, one more grandchild joins the family business. A friend of ours and one of Jackson's most passionate and talented gardener’s says, with a sarcastic roll of his eyes, “Great…more Martinson larvae in the fold!” Even the few of us that didn't join the gardening world didn't go far from it.
My brother, Chip, designs and builds custom furniture in New Orleans. With only one day before the funeral, he crafted a beautiful pecan box for Dad's remains. The box was adorned by my sister, Karen, who owns Green Oak. She made a wreath from the camellias, pittosporum and a few of Dad's other favorite plants that he planted on the farm where we grew up in Madison. It was perfectly beautiful and fitting.
Next week, I'll get a little more garden newsy. (I promise.) But thank you for allowing me this moment to share about our family. After all, if you're reading this; you're family too.