April Showers… May Flowers

Posted on May 14, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

We are having a delightful spring of weekend travel mixed with beautiful spring days at home. Last weekend included a visit with friends in Memphis, dinner with my sister-in-law in Tupelo and a missions day in in Okolona, MS. The previous weeks included board meetings at CIU in Columbia, SC and William Carey University in Hattiesburg, and mission weekends at churches in Alabama and Fort Worth, TX.

MayFlowers-fieldWe have had three round trips to Northeast Mississippi on the beautiful Natchez Trace, a leisure traffic-free parkway by-passing nearby communities through fields and woods. This photo was taken of a old rail fence and colorful field near French Camp Academy where we took a diversion on rural roads looking for abandoned home places where Bobbye’s mother’s family lived in Choctaw County.

This weekend we will be returning to South Carolina where I will be the commencement speaker at Columbia International University and will be granted an honorary doctorate degree. This will be followed by a few days visit with our three grandchildren near Nashville (with their Mom and Dad).

MayFlowers-Roses&MailboxBut the days at home between trips have been especially gratifying in seeing the lush foliage of the trees and garden shrubs explode with new life. My neighbors think I’m quite weird when I explain that I don’t hunt, fish or play golf, but I love working in my yard. Actually they express jealousy at the beautiful flowers and manicured shrubs around the house and the perimeter of the yard. I explain that it is because retirement gives me six Saturdays in my week.

I am still getting acquainted with the Mississippi climate in which forsythia and some azaleas bloom in late February. However, the winter was extended this year and above normal rainfall has deferred having to turn on the sprinklers. The flowering rhododendrons have faded and blossoms on the cherry trees and Japanese magnolia have vanished, the tulips and daffodils are long gone, but my roses are exploding with blooms.

MayFlowers-IrisThis is our third summer in Mississippi. Each year has been a progression of moving from trees and background shrubs to filling in with variegated foliage and flowering borders. It has been pleasing to see perennials set out last year faithfully pushing to the surface and bursting in color without the task of replanting like my begonia, pansies and petunias. A small greenhouse on the side of my utility shed successfully preserved some ferns, geraniums and hibiscus for another season. The blooms of the iris and hibiscus, pictured, enhance the fence-row on the south side of the house.

MayFlowers-HibiscusEach season brings new projects as the vision continues to grow. It is a challenge to keep our hugh growth of cane at the back of the property contained and pruning the explosive growth of lagustrum and red-tipped photina. The excessive spring rain has left low sections of the yard saturated and the need for additional ditching to provide sufficient drainage. With everything approaching a maintenance level the weeding, trimming and mowing continues to provide a weekly opportunity for outdoor exercise.

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