Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I wonder if genetics plays a part in people's choice of hobbies. My ancestors on both sides were farmers. I don't know if all of them had a love of growing things, maybe it was just their lot in life to be born into a farming families.

I've traced my father's family back to Virginia 1619 when Dr John Woodson landed with a company of British soldiers. Dr. Woodson built a cabin and began farming. His descendants pushed farther west and were among the first settlers in Mississippi and then on to Texas.

This is probably the oldest photo I have. This early Woodson relative left Virginia with a small group that made the treck into the unsettled lands of Mississippi and built homes and farms in the Holly Springs area.

This photo is my great, great grandfather Nathan Hill Evans (the nephew of the woman above). Nathan was a cotton farmer until he died.

His daughter Beulah looked the part of a pampered southern belle but like most women of her generation, she was tough as steel. She married a farmer, Eli Green, and they spent their early married years in Texas growing cotton. Later they uprooted their family which included my father (a baby at the time) and moved to Illinois.

Eli was the first relative (I know of) that enjoyed flower gardening as well as crops. Perhaps it was his wife's influence or perhaps he just had more free time for a hobby. Anyway, he passed that love of flowers to his son, my father who passed it to me.

My Dad tells stories of his father's flowers. There was a church near their house. On Sunday, after services, people would drive past and stop to admire the beautiful gardens. My Dad would be sent running to the barn to grab a shovel so Eli could give the visitors a start of which ever plants they admired.

Until his eyesight failed him, my father loved flowers. He lectured on creating what he called back yard habitats--places where birds and wildlife could coexist, even thrive with in residential areas. It has been a terrible thing for this man to loose his sight (his second greatest pleasure was reading). It hasn't broken his spirit. He continues to garden with my help and a few hired weeders. He simply cannot stand the thought of his home with no flowers surrounding.