Eddie T James – A Horticulture Jewel, whose knowledge has blessed the Jackson community for more than 60 years is slowing down.
Green Oak Garden Center and Florist owner, Karen McKie, who purchased the store with husband Maur from her father and mother, Billy, and Rita Martinson, said Eddie has become locally known as the “Great Identifier.” If you need to know about a plant, you can bring him a stick, Karen said. Maur notes that in many parts of Jackson, there’s not too many yards around that don’t have some type of his influence in some way during the last 50 years.
Eddie began working on the landscape crew in 1964, shortly after the company was founded in Jackson by Billy Martinson at the beginning of the decade. Eddie’s father, Robert James of Pocahontas, was one of the first employees Green Oak hired. Eddie frequently accompanied his dad on landscape installations in the summers during his high school year. Eddie was remarkable in showing an immediate interest in educating himself on plant material and care, Karen said her father often said. Billy noticed that during lunch breaks, Eddie took to quietly studying the back of product labels, chemical packages, and plant maintenance pamphlets. His thirst for knowledge and innate curiosity about best practices in the landscaping industry allowed him to make his own observations and develop a set of standards that Green Oak continues to utilize today. As years went by Eddie began to take on greater responsibilities and switched to working full time in the garden center. He has become a local expert in plant care, turf treatments, rose, caladium and shrub growing.
What stands out most about Eddie, among those who know him, is his calm demeanor and kindness. He listens intently to both customers and associates. He will be the first to tell you he has learned as much from his customers as they have from him. Trust in Eddie’s advice is why people ask for him. Honesty and loyalty run deep in the James family. Ginny Weilenman, Billy and Rita’s oldest daughter who also plays a big role in the Green Oak family says, “As a child, I remember play-helping Eddie and his brother Pee Wee, in our garden as dad directed. Dad and the “James Boys” were always together, creating a bond that never went away. Eddie has remained the voice and presence of comfort throughout the years.”
Eddie was raised with the amazing work ethics and pleasing attitude that makes work enjoyable for everyone, Maur said. “Because Eddie stands for values, a man of great integrity and trustworthy, many employees that have helped Green Oak grow, return just to greet Eddie with kind words and keep up to date.
“Many Green Oak family babies have been raised with Eddie’s kind influence. No one can understand why Eddie has never aged. Perhaps his past (and present) softball activities keep him fit, but we believe his beautiful outlook on life is keeping him ageless,” Maur said.
“If you have never experienced Eddie’s smile, you should come by just to see how genuine happiness is projected. Green oak appreciates his presence for 60 years and is fortunate that even though he was given a retirement party years ago, he still comes part time to help,” Karen said.
He now concentrates on grooming the bedding plant to keep them fresh. He combines the color plants for blooming containers. He especially enjoys rose growing and caladium production. His secret: the right soil mixes and fertilizers. His knowledge of horticulture practices – diseases, insects, turf care, shrub and tree ID and care, annuals, perennials, vegetables, fruit trees, foliage plants, and soils is extensive.
Eddie T tips:
Soil mix for roses: bare root
• 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 sand for drainage, 1/3 soil - add slow-release granular fertilizer to mix
Planting bare root:
• Trim roots, wash clean, trim the shoots to the nodes facing outward to direct new growth to grow outward keeping the bush open
• Use root stimulator after planting for “insurance”
Care for the growing rose:
• Spray weekly with mixture of fungicide and insecticide to prevent black spot, thrips, and aphids
• Inspect plants before buying for insects or diseases
• In February, severely cut Hybrid Tea roses with sharp clippers to nodes pointing outward to be rewarded with a flush of clean leaves in spring. Remove dead and small canes.
When combing bulbs into a color pot, use the Number 1 large bulbs for larger and more prolific leaves.
Combine many bulbs into one pot, making a full, lush combo
Cut the “eyes” on the bulb or flip the bulbs upside down so that the stems pushing upward become fat and sturdy.