Fall Enhancements

Posted on December 3, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

My Mississippi buddies raise their eyebrows when I mention that my hobby is yard work. They are incredulous when I explain that I don’t fish, hunt or play golf; my recreation and enjoyment comes from spending time in the yard and seeing the vision of landscaping materialize. I am finding at my age I dare not put in a full day lest the cost be exacted in an aftermath of aches and pain. However, personal satisfaction is seldom excelled by anything than surveying flowering shrubs and a well-manicured lawn in the fading twilight of the day.

After three years of sodding grass, tilling and mulching flower beds, digging holes and planting trees, I find myself anticipating reaching the point of maintenance. This summer did actually involve a routine of mowing and occasional pruning. I’m discovering more and more perennials to avoid the excessive planting annual flowers each spring. But maintenance has become impossible with the falling leaves. Such is the price of a yard full of trees. This photo was taken the day after raking, blowing, mulching and cleaning the lawn. The bodaks and pecans shed early, then come the crepe myrtles and maples; the oaks seem to never cease raining down their leaves from October to February.

One of this year’s projects was to turn a barren, rocky street side plot on the corner of Hester and East Leake into a flowered garden bordered by roses, junipers and muhley grass. It took a truck-load of topsoil and experimenting with varieties of perennials to keep something blooming throughout the season. Adding a three-tiered fountain was the final accent.

In the backyard the most recent enhancement was the addition of a pergola as an entrance to the prayer garden that is still taking shape. When my family first moved to the property in 1946 we had a screen porch on the side of our original cinderblock house. With subsequent renovation and expansion in 1952, I can remember that porch slab being pushed down the hill for a backyard patio. Over the years in had disappeared under a mat of grass, but knowing it was there we uncovered it. Hopefully, next spring flowering mandevilla vines will add a colorful dimension to this setting.

I have been delighted to find many plants that would not survive cold season in Virginia make it through the mild Mississippi winter. However, to protect those that don’t, the most recent project was adding a small greenhouse to the south side of my utility shed. The front-porch ferns, hibiscus and a few geraniums have now been warmly secured for when the temperatures dare to dip below freezing. Now the Christmas decorations are up, the bird feeder is full and I can enjoy the yard from the warmth of my easy chair in the garden room.

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