The Dart: Garden attracts tourists

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2017

NATCHEZ — By day, he was in the oil and gas industry. But if you found the late Ed Godfrey III in the early morning or evening, he was in the garden.

When The Dart landed on Linton Avenue on a sunny afternoon Friday, Godfrey’s coreopsis was in full bloom, reaching out to the sky along the property’s fence line, creating a colony for the area’s butterflies and bees.

“Ed has always been a gardener,” Godfrey’s widow, Laura Godfrey, said. “He could plant anything.

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“I will go out there in the morning and there will be so many butterflies. It is so peaceful and amazing.”

The flowers he planted often serve as an attraction for guests — even guests the Godfreys were not expecting. Laura Godfrey said to this day tourists stop to take their pictures with the orange blooms of the fall.

“People have stopped here over and over and asked, ‘Can I take a picture?’” Laura Godfrey said. “They will be so sweet, knocking on the door and asking permission.

“I think so many people notice it because Linton Avenue is such a thoroughfare for tourists going to the cemetery. Plus Linton Avenue itself is a beautiful street.”

And Laura Godfrey said tourists would continue to notice the flowers, even though Ed Godfrey died in September. She said the plant does not usually require replanting, though they do require a lot of water.

When Laura and Ed Godfrey took their vows of marriage in 1983, Laura Godfrey said her husband was already a gardener. Laura Godfrey said he likely got it from his mother, Irene Godfrey.

“She was a big gardener,” Laura Godfrey said. “She had a garden at Mount Repose Plantation. I think he started helping her when he was young.”

Though Ed Godfrey was a busy man, Laura Godfrey said he took the time to tend to his garden, typically two hours on gardening days.

“He got up early in the morning, and that’s when he would plant,” she said. “In the evening is when he would water.

“Late evening watering was a secret. He’d always say you couldn’t water midday.”

Thanks to her husband, Laura Godfrey said she also got into gardening, and one day wants to have an herb garden again. Laura Godfrey said she did have one at a previous residence on Union Street and enjoyed sharing it with the community.

Laura Godfrey said tourists were not the only people to appreciate Ed’s gardening. The neighbors through the years did as well.

“Everyone knew how much he enjoyed doing it,” she said. “They would come by and see his work and say, ‘Oh my gosh, Ed was at it again.’

“People thought that they were gorgeous.”

Ed Godfrey was also giving, Laura Godfrey said. She said he was quick to offer seeds to anyone who showed an interest in gardening or the plants. Greg Brooking even planted some coreopsis on Silver Street, she said.

But the plants, which originated in Ed Godfrey’s garden, have spread beyond Natchez out into the wide world. Many tourists over the years have taken the Godfreys up on attempting to grow the coreopsis.

“They will take them home in Ziploc bags,” Laura Godfrey said. “I have letters from people who say they have gotten them to bloom. They say they have just fallen in love with the small flowers.”