Volume 52, Number 1
That’s no typo. Indeed, this is the first “Garden Path” column of a series that began on Sept. 6, 1968. If I learned anything in grammar school, that adds up to 51 years ago, thus beginning today the 52nd year of the thing. My grandmother, Lucy Cowan Williams, who was the wife of the publisher of this newspaper, W. Percy Williams, began a weekly series on gardening she called “Down the Garden Path” in that mentioned year. That was shortened after I took the helm to “The Garden Path,” and then later to simply “Garden Path,” as it is today.
Some years after her successful run, her eyesight failed from macular degeneration, a thorn in the side (or the eye) of several in our family, and she asked me to take over. I had morphed from fishing and hunting to ornamental gardening by that time, but it was with much trepidation that I agreed.
One of the reasons I was reluctant was that her writing had become extremely popular with the gardening set in many garden clubs here at the time and other people as well. I didn’t know if I could carry as bright a torch as she had. That might remain to be seen.
So it is that, 51 years later, we begin the 52nd year here between the two of us, and there has never been a missed weekly deadline in that time, which might well be a record for a weekly newspaper column on any subject. At any rate, I have no intention of quitting, at least until death or lesser infirmity do us part. It has been a great ride, and I like to think I have made some bit of contribution to promote the satisfying avocation of gardening. Some few friends have told me I have.
At any rate, there are more and better gardens here than there were in 1968, that is for sure. A lot of it has been because of better information and training via better communication and such resources as the excellent display gardens and teaching at our West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center close by at Jackson. If you haven’t visited there by all means I urge you to do so. Carol Reese and Jason Reeves, curators of the garden, along with a host of their understudies, have done yeoman duty in educating gardeners on better and more beautiful ways to create ornamental gardens. Some of your tax money goes to the center, so you might as well benefit. I have benefited from their efforts over the years and I can testify to their value. Anyone entering any field of study needs to not only learn all they can on the front end, but continue to do so from day to day and year to year. Part of that locally is the Master Gardeners education offered through their monthly meetings that feature able instructors on just about any facet of gardening, from soil science and preparation to new varieties of plants coming on the market continuously. Many of the plants in my own garden are the result of the plant sales at the Jackson center several times a year.
From Poor Willie’s Almanack — We don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future.
JIMMY WILLIAMS is the garden writer for The Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Monday mornings at 642-1162.