Greens, greens everywhere

Published 10:05 pm Monday, November 25, 2013

Green plants and green thumbs have been featured in the Suffolk News-Herald a lot lately.

In the Nov. 17 edition, readers — if they didn’t already know Eddie Mae Ervin personally — learned about her and why folks in her Lake Kennedy neighborhood call her “The Collard Green Lady.”

Ervin was “raised up in the garden,” she said, and admitted her mother had to “whip” her to make her come inside during the old days.

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Now that the 85-year-old with five children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren is the disciplinarian herself, she spends her time whipping and sweet-talking her collards into shape.

Whatever method she uses, it seems to work. One group of plants had grown so large and thick I had to stand by the plants and lean over to realize they surrounded an old tree stump.

Even though she has the normal aches and pains of a woman her age and uses a walker, Ervin still tends the plants every day and gives them away to neighbors.

The greens growing at the home of the Rev. Wayne and Judy Gardner aren’t of the edible variety, but they are no less impressive for their size.

An admirer called us about the ferns, which look like something off the set of “Jurassic Park,” and reporter Matthew Ward visited the Gardners’ mini-garden on their front porch.

The ferns get a gallon of water a week — they’re horticulture’s version of an SUV, it seems — and are about three years old. They have grown past the Rev. Gardner’s waist.

Other items of interest at the home of the aptly named Gardners include some banana trees, a grove of rose bushes and eucalyptus trees.

The stories about Ervin and the Gardners are hardly breaking news or investigative reporting by any stretch. However, the stories we did recently about them and other locals’ hobbies are what community news is all about.

Folks like to read about the cool and unusual things being done by their neighbors, their spouse’s co-workers, that guy in their Sunday school class and the lady who serves them in the morning drive-through. As evidence, the story on Ervin has been one of the most-emailed stories on our website for the last week.

So don’t be surprised anytime you open our paper and see a story about prehistoric ferns or giant collards. It’s just your horticulturally inclined neighbors at work.