TUPELO – Just before a devastating tornado struck Tupelo in April 2014, the Joyner Neighborhood changed its name to the Joyner Garden District.
But because Joyner was one of the heaviest areas hit in the storm, signage announcing the name change got put on the back burner as the neighborhood worked to rebuild.
Now, the revitalized Joyner Garden District is ready to show its beauty and charm with a tour of six gardens and three homes on June 10. Proceeds will go back into beautification projects in the neighborhood.
“This garden tour will be our so-called ‘coming out party,’” said Joan Lansdell, chairman of Joyner Beautification. “I think yard transformations from shade to sunny have created a lot of excitement in the gardening department. Even in my yard I have things blooming I planted 10 or 12 years ago and had forgotten about.”
The tour begins Saturday, June 10, at 9 a.m. at St. Luke United Methodist Church. Participants can enjoy a self-guided tour of six gardens and three homes until 11:30, when there will be a luncheon catered by Sweet Tea and Biscuits at the Fellowship Hall at St. Luke’s. Tupelo garden enthusiast Doyce Deas will be the speaker.
Tickets for the tour and luncheon are $16 and are available at Sweet Tea and Biscuits, by calling (662) 871-1069 or (662) 322-1027 or at St. Luke on the morning of the tour.
Also included in the tour will be the two neighborhood triangles. Different residents claim corners of the triangles and are responsible for the planting and upkeep of those areas.
“A few years ago I was working in a triangle and a gentleman walked up and asked me if I knew who was responsible for the triangles,” Lansdell said. “He said he’d been noticing the triangles and how much beauty they added. He said he wanted his daughter to buy a home in Joyner so his grandchildren could grow up in this neighborhood.”
MARTIN GARDENS ON TOUR
One of the gardens on the tour belongs to Harry Martin. He and his late wife, Agnes, bought the home and its four acres in 1972 and worked for years to turn it into a showplace.
“This is Agnes’ yard,” said Martin, 91. “We were married for 66 and two-thirds years and courted for 10 years before that. Agnes knew every bird that flew, so she wanted lots of fruit-bearing trees here.”
Some of the 150 varieties of trees on the property include palms, dogwoods, pines, Chinese hollies, magnolias, native hollies, white oaks, water oaks, Kentucky coffee trees, sawtooth oaks, bodocks, Japanese magnolias, ginkos, yaupon hollies, Chinaberries and Ohio buckeyes.
“The buckeyes are here because of Agnes,” Martin said. “Her father carried a buckeye in his pocket all of his life.”
One unusual tree in Martins’ yard is a 45-year-old live oak.
“We got a bucket of azaleas from Prichard, Alabama, in 1972, and in it was a little live oak sapling,” Martin said. “We planted it all. The azaleas died, but the live oak thrived.”
Other trees include fig and peach and there are even some cacti growing. A small garden sports tomatoes, peppers, squash and herbs.
Annuals, such as begonias, marigolds, salvia and coleus, fill flowerbeds, while butterfly bushes, Knock-Out roses, oakleaf hydrangeas, bamboo and asparagus ferns round out the backyard.
“There are roses in this yard that have been in Agnes’ family for more than 100 years,” said Martin. “Everything in the garden attracts wildlife. The wildlife is part of the flowers. Everything is important in the garden.”