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THE DART: Family’s history planted with love in Natchez yard

Lonnie Freeman watches his wife Brenda Freeman mow the lawn in their yard Sunday. The Freemans moved back to Natchez from Gulfport in 2007 after Lonnie’s father, Adolph, died in order to care for his mother, Effie May. After Effie died in 2011, Lonnie and Brenda moved into their house and now make a point of keeping up the garden because it is part of what makes the house a home for Lonnie. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Lonnie Freeman watches his wife Brenda Freeman mow the lawn in their yard Sunday. The Freemans moved back to Natchez from Gulfport in 2007 after Lonnie’s father, Adolph, died in order to care for his mother, Effie May. After Effie died in 2011, Lonnie and Brenda moved into their house and now make a point of keeping up the garden because it is part of what makes the house a home for Lonnie. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Every garden is as unique as the people who plant it.

Like the lines in a fingerprint or the designs in an iris, no garden grows the same as any other.

And in that singularity, there is a story.

It could be a story of seasons, or a story behind the use of certain flowers, but in Lonnie Freeman’s case, it is a story of his family.

When The Dart landed on Booker Road in Natchez Saturday, Freeman and his wife Brenda Freeman were relaxing inside to escape the rain, but on most weekend days they can be found in their garden.

Freeman’s parents, Effie May and Adolph Freeman, moved to Natchez from Liberty in 1956 — into the house where Freeman now lives. Adolph built the house with the help of friends and relatives.

For them and their seven children, it was a palace compared to the country home they had moved from.

Adolph worked at the tire plant and then at the Coca-Cola plant, but money was tight and being from the country, Adolph and Effie May turned to the land for their sustenance.

“We were poor, so he planted a garden and that’s what we ate,” Freeman said.

The years went by and all the children left home and dispersed around the country. The number of mouths to feed dwindled down to just two, but Adolph and Effie May kept their garden.

“It was her baby,” Freeman said. “And dad worked on his big garden ‘til the day he died. What he didn’t eat, which was a lot, he gave away, to neighbors, friends, and the Stewpot.

“It was a way of life for them, and they loved it,” Freeman said.

As his parents aged, Freeman moved all around the south working at and owning car dealerships.

After his father died in 2007, he moved back to care for his mother. He and his sister Marilyn Joyce Allred, who was the only sibling of Freeman’s left in Natchez, split time looking after her.

Upon her death in 2011, the house and the 5.9 acres of land that it sits on was given to each of the seven children.

“Some of them wanted to sell the house, but this is home, it was ours,” Freeman said.

So he bought his siblings’ shares of the house and he and Brenda moved in.

All the while they kept the garden. It is a shade of the way his parents had it, but the garden is still for them.

“It is an extension of them,” Freeman said. “They had a lot of pride in it, and they raised their kids with it. So we are carrying it on.”