After fine-tuning his abilities in agriculture engineering at Mississippi State University, Bruce Ewing dove quickly into the world of mulch, mud, and hedge mazes. In addition to farming sod and designing custom landscapes, the property specialist lends his expertise to keeping his clients' grounds healthy throughout the year. At Bartlett Landscape Spray, Bruce and his crew install turf and ornamental plants along with patios, outdoor lighting, and irrigation systems. They also provide maintenance services such as pruning, lawn care, and insect control, and plant seasonal decorations so they bloom just in time for the holidays.
During spring at Jones Orchard, families gather to bound through the territory’s rows of fruit, peeling back leaves to get at the ripest morsels hidden deep within the thicket. Since growing their first peaches more than seven decades ago, the Jones family continues to ripen juicy varieties of peaches, strawberries, and other fruit on their 600-acre farm, eschewing long-distance produce shipping for local distribution, mostly available at farmer’s markets and during the orchard’s pick-your-own fruit season. Inviting families to pick fruit together is one of many ways the Jones family lures visitors to their orchard seasonally—come autumn, the farmers transform the fields into a vast corn maze. Visitors not content to wander the idyllic grounds can enjoy the orchard’s bounty at the Country Café, where matriarch Juanita Jones flavors her fresh pies and preserves with fresh-plucked fruits.
Instead of exercising at the gym, Jeff Cochran stays fit by competing in races—the vertical kind. The certified arborist and his crew clamber up trees in their leisure time, thereby sharpening their safety skills and prepping their physiques for when they're on the job. Their work sends them to neighborhood lawns for trimming, planting, and tree-removal services, though the botany enthusiasts use the third option only as a last resort.
The staffers both diagnose and treat potentially hazardous branches, pruning away obstructions and detaching diseased boughs. They remain on call 24 hours a day to deal with emergency appointments following storms. Many of their treatments are also preventive: they take measures to conserve trees that stand on active construction sites and erect reliable lightning-protection systems. In the interest of healthy growth, Jeff and company fertilizes and aerates the soil to nourish roots, with regular inspections to ensure that each plant's heart rate is a plucky six beats per year. Every visit is followed by a thorough yard cleanup that clears away debris, sawdust, wood chips, and ruts.
Midtown Nursery supplies phytophiles with a selection of flora and garden products. Bolster your flower portfolio with chrysanthemums ($6)––whose petals both prettify a garden and can be boiled to create a germ-slaying tea that's necessary for survival when playing in fast-food ball pits––and pansies, a colorful walkway decoration ($2.25 per half dozen). Pumpkins are available for autumnal carvings ($1–$45), and Christmas trees (starting at $45), most of which are fraser firs, are delivered to Midtown Nursery by elves brandishing human-sized axes.
Staff members at Digger O’Dell Nursery and Landscape fill nine greenhouses with more than 500 varieties of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. They even dedicate an entire greenhouse to growing up to 1,000 hanging baskets at once.
Kristi Duckworth doesn't mind when her art gets stepped on. In fact, she encourages it, having composed sprawling mosaics for park pathways and sidewalks. These locations are a fitting canvas for her large-scale, nature-inspired work. Her second favorite place to put art, however, is in the hands of children.
Kristi hosts multiple afterschool programs and classes that arm kids with everything they need to make beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces. Her mosaic lessons teach students to sift through tiles and arrange them into photo frames, and her ceramics classes cover the basics of sculpting and using a pottery wheel without constantly honking its horn. She also runs Art Night, a supervised three-hour period of freeform creation. Anyone who stops by can practice their mosaic-building skills, painting strokes, or ceramics techniques with the available tools.