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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


There’s No Place Like Home

Already we are moving into mid September! We have begun planting our fall crop at our greenhouses at Garden Works. This week we are filling 20,000 pots with the soil that will be these seedlings new home. We will water each pot good, dibble a hole right in the center of each pot then stick the tiny root balls at the correct depth. We put a colorful description tag in each pot so our customers can learn a little about what they are looking at. I believe these tags must be printed in Michigan or somewhere with a cooler climate than here. When they suggest “at least 6 hours of direct sunlight” on some of the plants that we use for shady areas I know they mean somewhere else.

The tags are good for the basic information like height and width and the color of the blooms in case it’s not reached the blooming stage yet. The tags do help us as nursery workers by holding a customer for a minute until we can get to them to help them for real. I have watched customers buying habits over the years. We grew our perennials in cobalt blue pots with giant, colorful tags for a few years. They were great plants with a great variety list that we decide to vernalize so our customers would have more success when they planted our perennials. In our case vernalizing our plants would mean exposing the roots of these plants to below 50 degrees for 8 to 10 weeks. We don’t necessarily get those kinds of temperatures on a consistent basis so we would have to create that environment. We have a large freezer back from when we used to sell produce at Garden Works back in the 90’s. We set the dial to 50 degrees and dialed in the Time Machine in order to be ready for the spring season 10 weeks later. When the timer went off we had some beautiful blue pots with great info tags with no green showing with a healthy root system that was ready to burst just like it would be in nature if we had more reliable winters. We layer those flats of plants out on the tables so they could begin to thaw out and begin to leaf out in the retail bedding plant field. We layer them out there with some of the annuals and veggies that were ready on the early side of spring.It was interesting to watch customers choose the big tags with no plants in them over our traditionally black pots with our less remarkable tags with green and healthy plants. We have gone bigger with our tags since those years.

I think people are more comfortable with more, less generic info on the tags, I agree. There is a trend going on nationwide in the nursery business. People got a little closer to getting in touch with Mother Nature in the last 3 or 4 years for all kinds of reasons. We have taken note of the long term effects of these more extreme seasons that we are experiencing at least while this El Niño weather pattern is in place. I believe our temperatures are hitting extremes permanently but it’s a little worse while this pattern holds. We are realizing that leaning more towards discovering tough plants that can take a cold winter and a hot summer is where we need to be headed. One category of plants that nurseries wrestle with are native plants. We believe in the benefits of native plants to our landscapes. We don’t have a great supply of good looking natives. I believe that we need to design landscape plans with natives and we need to be guiding folks towards them when we are helping someone with their landscape project at home. So far most of the plants that are truly native to Mississippi don’t look good enough for me to talk someone into. We know we are heading in a direction that we will be able to send more people home with plants that are native to Mississippi.

Planting Native plants will help bring in more biodiversity which snowballs into being a positive for most everything in your yard. Natives usually require less water to keep them healthy and it will help to restore natural habitats which would help with keeping the native population of pollinators and they provide food and shelter for wildlife that we no longer recognize around here. It wasn’t that long ago that I would walk around as a kid that I would hear the call of the Bobwhite all day long. I haven’t heard one in Madison for decades. We already have quite a few natives that we’ve been offering and we intend to extend that list as more become available. I think most garden centers are trying to get in tune with the plants that are making it and those that can’t take the weather that we’ve experienced lately. We will see a shift in that direction.

The past few weekends Mimi and I have taken our days off as days to explore right here in Ridgeland where we live. We realize what a wonderful community we are fortunate enough to live in. We like to get in a little workout on these days so we ride our bikes to get where we are going when we have a whole day off together. The bike trails that run parallel to the Natches Trace are our favorite places to pedal and chat. The trails that run all over Madison county linking all the trails together are great for keeping off the main roads. It amazes us how far one can leisurely pedal without needing to get on a main road. For the harder core bike riders there are great country roads that lead out to flora or north of canton where they can really stretch one out. When I am preparing for a mountain climb I go to the Ridgeland trails for the steep up and downs that help with getting legs ready. The trails are marked and run extensively through a huge swath of woods offering any size workout you desire. To use those trails you have to become a member by paying annual dues. After becoming a member you will have opportunities to help keep the trails cleared and meet other like minded people by meeting up there for workdays to maintain trails and attended bike races and concerts.

What I love about Ridgeland’s commitment to healthy living is that before during or after a workout on the trails or one of our many CrossFit, Pilates, yoga, massage or martial arts studios a healthy meal can easily be found to round out the program a person is using for their fitness regime. We have great schools and medical facilities in Ridgeland that make it even easier to not have to go far for our needs. A shopping day is easy in Ridgeland for pretty much anything you may be looking for wether it be from great mom and pops stores or big chain stores so people drive here from all over the state to stay in our hotels and dine out. We see a lot of people from out of town and from out of state who wandered in for an athletic event but decided to see what else they could get here that they didn’t have back home. They shop with us at Garden Works while they are in town. We are usually their last stop so we have to stuff their bounty from us around the last things they bought, luggage and kids and pets before we thank them for checking us out. I hear we have some great things coming our way really soon that will increase our visitors status even more, we are preparing for bigger crowds at Garden Works.

Mimi and I enjoy riding our bikes to the movie where dinner is served or to a close by restaurant on a Sunday afternoon or sometimes to a friends house in a nearby neighborhood for a swim. We realize how dreamy it is living in a community that can offer all of this. We used to go out west and wonder why we can’t live in such cool places, then we would look at the real estate section and nix that idea. We have all of that now and relative to real estate prices nationwide we are living in one of the least expensive areas in the country, I think we forget that sometimes. We don’t have to worry if we can water our gardens for lack of water, yes it’s hot here but I think it’s hot everywhere. When I look at the disasters that are occurring in other states and the cost of living going up in those places it makes me even more sure that there’s no place like home.

My hat is off to our mayor and his incredible staff for their nack for forward moving insight and keeping their commitment to healthy living a priority for us all. I hope that if you are living in this area that you have discovered Ridgeland’s advantages and we hope that if you are not from here that you will come spend a weekend in our town. Comparing to other cites in the country we live in a great place, it’s up to us to take advantage of our offerings and support these things so they can get even better.

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