Beautification efforts have reaped fine results

Beautification efforts have reaped fine results

Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 8:02 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams

Some more accolades are deserving of mention, as per last week’s column on public botanical beautification projects.
The secret to success in enhancing public areas with plants is not just with the design and installation, but in the almost constant maintenance, i.e. weeding, watering, fertilizing, trimming, etc.
Out on East Wood Street, the grounds at Holy Cross Catholic Church are a fine example of what we’re talking about. I have a soft spot for the planting there, since I was involved (ahem) in some of it.
At Holy Cross, the landscape was already admirable a few years ago, but the Rev. Ed Fisher, who incidentally had an interesting background as a nuclear engineer, desired more trees and shrubs. An activities building had been built to the east of the sanctuary edifice some years earlier, and part of the project was to screen out a utility area that served both buildings.
D.D. Blanchard southern magnolias, which are evergreen and have just about the best foliage of that species, were used on a slope. Heavily mulched and (most important) conscientiously watered, they have, in just a few years, grown to 15 feet or more and meshed almost together, effectively providing the desired screen and offering the large white flowers typical of magnolias.
Fronting them are Foster hollies that have red berries in winter. These must be sheared at least once a year to keep them under control. Then, further south and toward the street, forsythias were installed on both sides of a circle drive. Let us hope they won’t be sheared into balls. If not, they will do yeoman duty in holding a steep bank on the east drive, rooting wherever branches touch the ground.
Inside the circle drive, and framing the main building, groves of bald cypresses were planted tightly. These will, in several years, form tall spires with single leaders, a vertical reflection of the building’s architecture, with its facade rising to a flattened spire.
Planting under a sign at the street was redesigned with boxwoods and dwarf nandinas, neither of which will outgrow their space and interfere with reading the sign.
Near the back of a parking lot, a nice statue of Mary, mother of Jesus, was in place but needed some enhancement. Hollies and azaleas did the trick, and on either side some distance away Elizabeth magnolias, with pale yellow flowers in spring, will in the future make a statement.
All this would be for naught were not the maintenance kept up and the personnel have done a fine job, so that the plants are beginning to mature without the hindrance of poor (or no) maintenance.
Now, let us give the Protestants equal time. I have mentioned before the little garden at Grace Episcopal and First Christian churches, but it deserves more ink, since some years have passed and the garden has not fallen apart, as some are wont to do without attention. Indeed, it looks better than ever, with the exception of some boxwoods in front of Grace church that are suffering from iron deficiency. Methinks a dose of chelated iron and some acid fertilizer would do them wonders.
Between the church buildings is a community garden in which both have had a part. However, realizing the fact I am leaving out some other people unknown to me, I will say that Sally Sanderfer was an early instigator of the project. In more recent years, Kathy (Mrs. Bo) Caldwell has jumped into the swim there to keep up the looks (no pun intended). She is well qualified; just take a look at her own home garden.
Again, it is the constant maintenance (translation: dirty, hard, hot, sweaty work) that has paid the dividends. It is no easy job, and when you’re not working for yourself it is doubly admirable.
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Last Thursday was Thanksgiving Day, sadly one of the least hyped of all our holidays. We live in a country where people at the official government poverty level are better off than 90 percent of the other people in the world, and those with average incomes are better off than 95 percent of the rest of the world. Yet we seem to only reluctantly make a day (or part of one) for official thankfulness. Halloween draws far more attention nowadays.
Anyhow, I am thankful for turkey, ham, compost and azaleas.
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Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.

Published in The Messenger 11.29.11

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