Today, I attended the luncheon of the “older” ladies of Trinity Episcopal Church. The beautiful camellias that were used as the centerpieces prompted me to tell the story of the Jr. Master Gardener class at Carver. We gave each of the students we teach gifts of a beautiful camellia carefully tucked in a water tube. Even now, I can see the shining faces of these kids who probably had never see such a beautiful flower “up close and personal.”
One of the ladies said, “Do you remember who brought camellias to Marshall?” So began a fascinating conversation: Mr. Henry Columbus introduced them. He had beautiful gardens at the corner of Harper Drive and Travis Street. People would come to him for advice and plants. This was long before “landscapers.” He had daffodils growing there. Sometimes he caught people coming to the garden to pick and he would really get mad.
[At which time, I thought the ghost of Mr. Columbus might suddenly appear to me: it was his camellia tree and daffodil gardens, long abandoned on an empty lot, that we had “robbed” on Tuesday morning to take the flowers to Carver!]
There is more: It is said that Mr. Columbus was a bachelor, and therefore presumably a bit unorthodox in certain matters. If he needed to urinate when he was gardening, he just found a bush. One time it seemed that he even needed to do more than urinate, so he found a bush, pulled his pants down and squatted. A snake bit him on the butt! He couldn’t find the snake and was afraid he might die. He had to scramble to find someone to take him to the hospital and soon the stuff of legends was born.