Spreading love and joy through gardening

Published 5:09 pm Thursday, July 3, 2008

By SHELBA NIVENS / Community Columnist

Cecelia Shirley has been busy covering her yard with color.

“I planted 250 zinnias, 100 snowflake hydrangeas, 800 Discovery Dutch iris and around 85 old fashioned iris along here by the road,” Shirley said, indicating the rows of plants bordering her yard along Highway 36 in Chelsea. “When we moved here the only flower in this yard was one tiny Memorial rose. That’s it covering the big brick wall by Ray’s shop.”

During the past ten years, the retired x-ray technician has planted one and a half acres of flowers and shrubs in her yards. Because of chronic back problems, Shirley has difficulty stooping and bending to weed and plant.

“So I use my Lawn Buddy,” she laughs.

“It helps me scoot around to where I need to go.”

Occasionally, she receives help from a friend or family member.

“I call the bed with fox glove, lilies and butterfly bush my ‘Jeremy bed’ because my cousin Jeremy dug up the ground for it,” Shirley said.

Her husband Ray also helps by hauling in topsoil and bark, and by running the tiller. Shirley enjoys using her flowers for other people. She makes arrangements for dinners, receptions and worship services at her home church in K-Springs, then sends the arrangements home with people. She plants and tends flowers in pots on the church porches, and has shared them for landscaping at the church state campgrounds in Pell City.

For filler and texture in cut arrangements she uses wild plants like Johnson grass, or plants resembling small cattails and tiny pea-pods.

“Mama Shirley (her mother-in-law Elvie) taught me to look for the potential in wild plants,” she said.

Shirley shares seed, bulbs and cuttings with other people and they share with her. Her blue hydrangeas came from bushes grown by her long-deceased grandmother and shared by an aunt.

The flowers take a lot of hard work, she said. But the enjoyment it brings to her and to other people is well worth.

Shelba Nivens can be reached by e-mail at mailto:ssnivens@bellsouth.net