Gardening is a way of life for the Goode Family

Published 10:06 pm Friday, September 23, 2016

Early childhood experiences are important to the development of every child. They often shape the way a child views the world and attitudes that affect their behavior for a lifetime.

The professionals tell us children model the behavior of those around them. Parents and sometimes siblings are their most important early role models.

Appreciation for the outdoors and love of gardening do not just happen randomly. Children learn to value what they see their role models value.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Gardening was a way of life for the Howard Goode family, who lived in the small community of Brownsville situated midway between Bolton, Edwards and Flora.

Their family farmed and raised cattle just like many other rural families across Mississippi. Cotton was a primary crop, but they also grew most of the vegetables they ate and lots of flowers that were old garden pass-alongs.

There were nine children — seven girls and two boys — so everyone had to help in some way or another and all learned the fundamentals of gardening that continue to influence their lives as adults.

One of the children is Vicksburg resident Jo Holliday, and she remembers them all working in the cotton fields. It was hot, hard work. She said she was too little to hoe but remembers sitting nearby at the end of a row waiting for her older siblings to get their work finished.

Life has changed for Holliday and her siblings, most of whom still live close enough to the Brownsville area to get together frequently to play cards and just enjoy each other’s company. Nobody is working in the cotton fields now but all seem to have a keen interest in ornamental gardening and have beautiful yards to prove it.

“Mamma grew lots of flowers and took them to the church every Sunday,” Holliday remembers.

One of her mother’s favorites was a red rose that her daddy planted when Holliday was quite young. It was so special that each of them now has a piece of it in their own garden.

“Every time we get together, the first thing we do is tour the garden where we are gathering before we play cards” said sister Faye Phillips of Flora. “Almost everything I have in my garden came from one of my sisters,” she went on to say.

They love to share, and when someone has something new, it is the topic of conversation that day. She is particularly fond of the Shasta daisies, daylilies, lantanas and crepe myrtles that grow in her garden. She and her husband, who is now 82, also continue the tradition of a big vegetable garden.

“Most of the time we are together, we are either sharing plants or talking about plants,” Joyce French of Pocahontas, another sister, said. Her garden has lots of hydrangeas, three different kinds, plus daylilies, butterfly bushes, verbenas, iris and salvias.

Another sister Mary Purnell returned to Brownsville with her husband after they sold their business in Clinton several years ago. They bought 23 acres, 10 of which are now in gardens with all kinds of plantings around a swimming pool, gazebo and a rock accented pool and waterfall near the front door.

Tall trees tower above a winding drive leading up to the house with azaleas and other spring flowering shrubs planted in the dappled shade. There are lots of roses, daylilies, crepe myrtles, iris, camellias, lorapetalums, grasses, ground covers, clematis and numerous blooming annuals and perennials throughout the colorful landscape. It looks like they have a full time gardener, but the Purnells handle much of the gardening themselves as a result of careful choices in plant materials, good soil preparation prior to planting and extensive use of ground covers and mulch to keep weeds at bay.

“There’s always something to do in the garden but all the time is worth it,” according to Holliday who has something blooming everywhere you look in her garden from early spring into late fall. She is particularly fond of containers and grows hydrangeas and roses as well as all kinds of annuals and perennials in them.

“All of us are crazy about gardening. Even the nieces and nephews like it as well as we do” Holliday commented.

Many of the gardeners I have interviewed over the years have mentioned a parent or grandparent who gardened, and their interest grew from time spent with that person outdoors.

Never underestimate how much your actions can influence others, particularly the young. The school gardening projects developed in many communities from concern that so many children had no access to green spaces, have little knowledge of where or how their food is grown and experience very little interaction with nature since 83 percent live in a city or metropolitan environment according to a 2006 Department of Agriculture report. We sometimes take it for granted that we live in a lush green rural state such as Mississippi. Few of us today have the farming experiences that the Goode family of Brownsville shared, but many of us do garden or experience nature as hunters or just as folks who love the beauty of the outdoors. It is up to us to encourage the young in our community, particularly our own children and grandchildren, to have a connection with nature.

One of the brothers is a professional landscaper in the Jackson area and the others have spent years developing and beautifying the home gardens.