Master Gardeners spruce up town

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NATCHEZ — Adams County Master Gardeners spent Monday on their knees, all in the name of civic pride.

Twenty gardeners pruned perennials and trimmed crape myrtle trees on Main Street as part of a Natchez beautification project.

The group recently joined the Community Alliance, and its downtown project is the first of six goals for the alliance.

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“It’s very important that we were chosen by the Community Alliance to beautify downtown,” Elaine Gemmell said, project chairman. “We want to show results.”

Project plans include planting 24 trees along Main Street and replacing the spaces where trees are missing or destroyed.

With more than 60 members, the Adams County Master Gardeners are the most active in the state, Gemmell said.

“What we are doing today is conveying a sense of community pride,” Gemmell said. “So why not start on Main Street?”

Gemmell said the purpose of the Adams County Master Gardeners is to promote gardening education, to encourage responsible horticultural practices and to give service to the community.

Community Alliance Chairman John Holyoak said that his group chose to sponsor the Master Gardeners to beautify downtown because they knew the group would produce results.

“We wanted to choose a project that associates the Community Alliance with effort, and making a real difference,” Holyoak said. “For this to be successful, you have to have people with enthusiasm, not people without passion who do it because no one else will. The Master Gardeners want to do it, and they are excited about it.”

The Master Gardeners take their work seriously, and several members said they hate to see trees hacked and removed by business owners.

“We want to push to make sure proper ordinances are in place to protect the trees,” Gemmell said. “These trees are not property of the shops, they are property of the city.

Master Gardeners Vice President Margaret Brown said Valentine’s Day was a fitting day for giving back to Natchez by starting the beautification project.

“Today we are trying to beautify the streets of Natchez,” Brown said. “As gardeners, this is what we are called to do. This project is just scratching the surface of what needs to be done. We’re not sure where it will lead, but Master Gardeners are in love with the earth and nature — what God has given us. Gardening is a love for what we’ve been given.”

Brown said with a turnout of 20 gardeners and the beautiful weather, Valentine’s Day couldn’t have been better.

With 20 gardeners volunteering three hours of their time, the day’s work added up to 60 hours. This is catalogued with thousands of hours the Master Gardeners accumulate each year.

“People give more hours of service and education than required,” Brown said.

New classes will begin 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Feb. 15 and continuing through March 24 at the Home Extension Office. Class topics include botany, soils, vegetables, ornamentals, insects and diseases and lawn care, among others.

Call 601-445-8201 to register.