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Renowned Master Gardener, Author Felder Rushing Shares Insights during Special Arbor Day Event at USM

Mon, 04/29/2024 - 09:26am | By: Van Arnold

(Photo by Paul Lijewski, USM Photo Services)

(Photo by Paul Lijewski, USM Photo Services)

Members of the Hattiesburg community were treated to a special horticultural celebration on Friday, April 26 as the Twentieth Star Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and VisitHATTIESBURG hosted, “Truck into the Garden with Felder Rushing.”

Held at The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families, the event commemorated National Arbor Day, which is traditionally recognized every year on the last Friday of April.

Renowned as Mississippi’s Master Gardener, Rushing delighted the audience with his presentation, “Kitchen Sink Gardening – A Felder Smorgasbord.” Combining homespun wit with impressive gardening knowledge, Rushing emphasized to the large crowd, “you don’t have to know anything to be a gardener. You can garden anywhere under just about any condition.”

(Photo by Paul Lijewski, USM Photo Services)

(Photo by Paul Lijewski, USM Photo Services)

“Gardening is not goal-oriented,” he noted. “When we plant things, we know that we may not get there, but we enjoy the journey.”

Armed with a truck bed full of examples, Rushing provided tips on how to grow the right pollinators and advice on growing plants in hot and cold weather, while interspersing his lecture with historical anecdotes about gardening.

Rushing, who spent 25 years as an urban horticulture specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, has traveled to all 50 states (lecturing in 36) and across five continents looking for unique gardening angles. When not traveling coast to coast with lectures, he splits his time between his celebrated Mississippi cottage garden and a Victorian terrace house herb garden in Lancashire, England.

“When we decided on having a gardening event, it was only natural that we should invite Felder Rushing to be the featured speaker. He is widely recognized as a gardening expert,” said Susan Perry, Twentieth Star Chapter Vice Regent. “Not only is Felder a famous horticulturist and author, he is also an 11th generation American veteran (Vietnam War). He has direct ancestors who immigrated to the New World in 1635, 1650, and 1735.”

(Photo by Paul Lijewski, USM Photo Services)

(Photo by Paul Lijewski, USM Photo Services)

Rushing’s love of gardening began under the apprenticeship of his horticulturist great-grandmother and his garden club grandmother. His books, thousands of newspaper articles, his magazine articles, radio show (The Gestalt Gardener) and his TV appearances have made him Southern Living magazine’s “one of twenty-five people most likely to change the South.”

The Twentieth Star Chapter kicked off Hattiesburg’s celebration of the semiquincentennial of the United State last November with “Give Me Liberty! Meet at the Tree!,” which saw the dedication of a Patriots Marker and Liberty Tree at the USM Veterans Center. A grant from VisitHATTIESBURG enabled the chapter to continue programs such as “Truck into the Garden with Felder Rushing.”

Twentieth Star Chapter Registrar Norma Williamson emphasized the importance of the organization’s involvement in events of this nature.

“We are eager to share the mission of the DAR, a nonpolitical women’s service organization, which is to promote patriotism, preserve American history and secure America’s future through better education of our children,” said Williamson. “Events such as Give Me Liberty! Meet at the Tree! and Truck into the Garden with Felder Rushing provide an opportunity to do just this in a relaxed setting, while providing education on a topic such as gardening.”

Hattiesburg businessman

Hattiesburg businessman Lewis Myrick describes planting an acorn that became a giant oak tree on the Veterans Center property. (Photo by Paul Lijewski, USM Photo Services)

As a special bonus to the event, Hattiesburg businessman Lewis Myrick shared the story of how, as a young boy, he planted an acorn that became a large oak tree now standing on the USM Veterans Center property. A USM graduate, Myrick has been an active participant in numerous Hattiesburg-area civic organizations. His father founded the family’s well-known business – Economy Supply – in 1941. Lewis Myrick was a fixture at the downtown company from 1956 until 1995. Economy Supply thrives today with the fourth generation of family members running the business.

Perry noted the obvious decision to hold Friday’s event on National Arbor Day.

“By holding this event on National Arbor Day and getting information about gardening, pollinator gardens, and native plants, guests learned about critical aspects of keeping our country sustainable,” said Perry. “During our country’s birth and beginning, our patriot ancestors lived off the land even when fighting for freedom. This program celebrated the beauty of America and provided important information about what we can do to sustain our magnificent environment for another 250 years and beyond.”

Learn more about the Twentieth Star Chapter NSDAR.