BY JOHN MCCANN : The Herald-Sun
Jan 21, 2007 : 9:05 pm ET

In Your Neighborhood: Gardeners spread roots:

 Members of the La Petite Garden Club and La Petite Youth Club, including garden club President Henrietta Jones (front left) and Zelma Head (front right), planted pansies and other flowers at the Stanford L. Warren Branch Library on Fayetteville Street.

DURHAM -- Just trying to make the place a little easier on the eyes, a Bull City garden club's flower-planting project that started on Fayetteville Street blossomed and spread to other parts of the city.

With assistance from a natural resources specialist at N.C. A&T State University who made possible $1,000 worth of bulbs, plants and garden tools, Zelma Head and pals sank their green thumbs into the soil at Stanford L. Warren Branch Library.

"It has added a lot to the library," said Brenda Watson Hall, who runs the recently renovated library. The garden club's work was like the icing on a cake. "It's been really, really wonderful," she said.

The garden club has planted at the library in the past. The group holds its meetings there, Hall said. Amid the renovations, a special spot was preserved just for the garden club's future offerings, she said.

Head said the idea was to beautify Fayetteville Street, which has been the subject of an ongoing community discussion about neglect and not getting the same type of attention from the city that other areas have gotten. But in addition to some planting at Hillside High School, Head said the garden club wound up on Roxboro Street, digging in the dirt at Pilgrim Baptist Church.

The group also has planted in the West End community at Lyon Park Senior Center.

Whether it's monkey grass or cactuses or pansies or knockout roses, garden club members just go about their work as artists, putting a little touch here, accenting something else needing some sprucing there.

Several groups operate under the auspices of an umbrella organization called Garden Clubs of Durham. They are: La Petite Garden Club; Better Homes and Garden Club; Little Garden Club; Lyon Park Rose Garden Club; and Year Round Garden Club.

And the kids dig it, too: La Petite Youth Club; Lyon Park Rose Youth Club; and Buds of Promise.

"These young people learn how to plant, how deep to plant the plants, whether it's a shady or sunny area, whether it's a perennial or annual," said Head, 62.

See, a lot of kids these days aren't growing up next to nature like their parents, who often have little collard patches and tomato vines in their back yards. So youth involvement in the garden clubs is a good thing, allowing them "to see the beautification of what they've done," Head explained. "It's something that their hands participated in."

There are no grown men toiling in the soil with the garden clubs right now, Head said. One of her goals is to start a men's group.

"In Your Neighborhood" appears every Monday. If you know of someone or something interesting in your neighborhood, call (919) 419-6630 or e-mail