Big difference in downtown landscapePublished 12:05am Monday, April 15, 2013
Go down Main Street and you will see splashes of springtime color hugging the ground around the crape myrtle trees. Go up Franklin Street and you will see similar spring blooms surrounding the recently planted crape myrtles. Soon you will see 107 newly planted crape myrtles burst into bloom on Main and Franklin streets.
Two years ago the Adams County Master Gardeners had a vision to enhance the appearance of our historic downtown by planting dozens of crape myrtle trees in otherwise empty or weedy tree wells along Main and Franklin streets. A partnership was formed with the Natchez Adams County Community Alliance and Keep Natchez Adams County Beautiful and the planning and fund raising phases began. With monies received by very generous donations from Grow Natchez Gardens (Symphony of Gardens), Waste Management, the Natchez Rotary Club, various downtown businesses, private citizens and an award from the Mississippi Urban Forest Council, the real work began. The donations to the project speak well of our community’s desire to live in a beautiful, green environment. We hope to have a donor recognition marker installed at the foot of Franklin Street in the near future.
We can now see the difference that the trees have made in our downtown landscape. We no longer have empty tree wells or tree wells with unsightly, damaged trees or inappropriate plant material in them. We have planted all of the empty tree wells and are now having new tree wells cut in areas where there were none. We have repaired broken sidewalks and installed new curbing in some areas. Many of the trees have been under-planted with perennial flowers and heirloom bulbs that will flourish in the hot humid climate of Natchez.
The City of Natchez has recently recognized the contribution the project has made to the appearance of our streets and has given money to help continue planting street trees. The Adams County Board of Supervisors has pledged part of the revenue received from the harvesting of trees at the old Belwood site to re-planting trees where needed. It has been very gratifying to have positive reinforcement of our work and makes the tasks seem beneficial.
The planting of 107 trees could not have been done without the labor of a dedicated group of about twenty Master Gardeners, the support and fundraising of the Community Alliance and the Keep Natchez Beautiful Committee, and the expertise supplied by the city engineering department. I would like to thank all those involved in helping to make this project so successful.
If you have not strolled our downtown streets, come have a visit and see the new trees just beginning to bud out, enjoy the colorful flowers blooming in the tree wells, have a cup of coffee or a meal in one of our restaurants. Visit the shops on Main and Franklin streets. Walk the historic downtown trail and learn the history of our beautiful city. Natchez is a unique place to live. Come downtown and enjoy it!
Elaine Gemmell is a Master Gardener and Natchez resident.