FRAZIER: Joyce Ferris scatters joy like flowers

Published 4:00 am Saturday, March 25, 2023

Last year my friend Joyce Ferris transformed a piece of downtown into the most beautiful flower garden.

She and dedicated volunteers scattered and tended thousands of zinnia seeds on a piece of property that had been donated by Jimmy and Peggy Gouras on Cherry Street, and when the flowers bloomed out it was magical. Knowing Joyce from my college days, it was not surprising that she had dedicated her time to creating something for everyone to enjoy, whether it was to just drive by and admire or to stop and pick a few flowers to take home.

There is no way I would ever attempt to take on a project the scale Joyce did, but her flower garden did inspire me to add some zinnias to my backyard sun garden.

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Therefore, last week when I was walking around Home Depot, I purchased several packs of zinnia seeds. Obviously, there were directions on the back of the package as to how to grow zinnias, but I felt it best to call an expert, so I rang up Joyce.

One thing she told me I would need to do is to pull back the pine straw in my flower beds before planting the seeds.

Zinnia seeds need lots of sunlight, she said, and if they are covered in pine straw, they would not get enough light to germinate.

Secondly, she recommended I put a light layering of potting soil in the portion of my flowerbed where I planned to scatter the seeds.

And I say “scatter” because while talking with Joyce, she said she had told Mike Gatti, who had helped her with last year’s garden, to just “pretend he was a flower girl scattering petals.”

Laughing, Joyce recalled Mike replying by asking her what he should do if he scatters all his seeds before making it to the altar.

I thought that was a good question for every flower girl to know.

Once all the seeds have been scattered, Joyce said, I should then gently rake them into the soil. Another tip Joyce gave me was the use of Epsom Salt, which she said was good for plants. She said she mixes it with the soil and then waters it in well.

Zinnias, Joyce said, should not be planted until after the “Easter snap.”

Last week, with 80-degree weather, she said she had been tempted to start scattering seeds, but is glad she waited since by the end of the week, there were below-freezing temperatures.

Joyce has already begun preparing the downtown garden for a showing of colorful zinnias again this year, and I promised her I would help get the word out when the time comes for volunteers.

I am honored to call Joyce a friend, and it’s people like her that make our community special.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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