Hattiesburg, MS Invests in Beautification Project
PHOTO CREDIT: Wes Aldridge
Modeled after America in Bloom, the multi-pronged initiative is all about creating a grassroots effort to enhance the area’s aesthetics through community planting in beds and gardens, reforestation and other initiatives.
The effort is helping to mitigate damage caused by Hurricane Katrina and other storms and pretty up some neglected corners of the region, says Dr. Angeline Godwin, president of the Area Development Partnership.
“We designed the program to be a cornerstone of our quality of life initiative, and the goal is to create oases throughout the community,” Godwin says. “We’re already seeing evolutions of areas that were unattractive or just plain to planted areas that are beautiful.”
The Hattiesburg Area Daylily Society is certainly doing its part. As a part of the American Hemerocallis Society, the Hattiesburg outfit is charged with taking part in such efforts as Pinebelt in Bloom and is doing so with gusto, says Bud Kirkpatrick, publicity chairman.
“That’s one of the things an accredited daylily society must do, but we’re also striving to meet all the requirements to become a designed daylily city,” Kirkpatrick says. “We’re one of the largest organizations in the nation, and we have the largest show in the nation, with more than 600 plants.”
The group has gotten the city to formally designate the daylily as Hattiesburg’s official flower, and several beds have been created throughout the region, including near the University of Southern Mississippi and the convention center, with the society working in tandem with the landowners to ensure a smooth operation.
“The hosts prepare the beds, and then our daylily folks come out and do the planting,” Kirkpatrick says. “And then we give them instructions on how to keep the bed up and so forth.”
Efforts such as this play into the future of Pinebelt in Bloom, which ultimately may include a series of sculpture gardens and other projects, Godwin says.
“This is something that every single citizen can participate in, whether they’re cleaning up a vacant lot or just doing some planting,” she says. “When we initiated the concept in 2006, it was more about cleaning up some areas, but now with neighborhood associations and others we are really bringing about beautification that involves all the citizens.”