There’s been 44 years of Garden Path columns
Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 8:02 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams
Garden Path column No. two thousand, two hundred, eighty-eight. (Spelled out for emphasis.) That’s right, 2,288. Nary a repeat and nary a miss.
Precisely 27 years ago today, the first Garden Path column written by Jimmy Williams appeared. “Say what?” you mathematicians protest. That 27 years constitutes “only” 1,404 columns.
Well, my esteemed grandmother, Lucy Williams, had invented the column 17 years earlier. Add 17 and 27, you get 44. Times 52 and you get 2,288. The two of us have met deadline for 44 years without missing a week.
Her style was different, but both of us have doctorates in horticulture from UHK — that’s the University of Hard Knocks. She passed on to me much of her gardening lore, saving me the agony of failure with some plants. Not all, mind you. I have failed with some of those she had succeeded with. In all modesty, you have to be pretty astute to create failure from sure success.
So we have those 44 years between us. I said our styles are different. Granny was too kind and gentle to offend anybody in print, while I have invited (and received) cussings and eggings from lovers of some plant or other that I have condemned as poor garden ingredients, despite a passing lovely or aromatic flower. To wit: Bradford pears, bearded irises and lilacs, to name a few. Such things might (might) have a momentary place in the sun, but they are far from ideal garden plants.
I believe part of my calling here is to call a spade a spade (translation: call a weed a weed) and let the cow chips fall where they may. Pay attention and your garden might be the better for such name calling.
Granny and I haven’t gardened for the better part of 100 years in red clay for nothing.
Any non-fiction writer has a responsibility to call the shots as he sees them. An instructional writer should have a desire to make clear the don’ts as well as the do’s. Even more, the inspirational journalist’s raison d’etre is to lift his reader’s plane of ambition to make something better and better as acumen is achieved. I hope I am doing that. Maybe Granny and I will reach 50 years between us.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 9.13.11
Garden Path, Jimmy Williams