Russians Explore American Gardening In Gulfport

Horticulture specialists from Russia learned about gardening "American style" during a visit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast this week.

They viewed the plants and palm trees that decorate the "Lazy River" outside Grand Casino's Oasis Hotel in Gulfport.

It seems the language of landscaping crosses any translation barriers.

"Do we have anybody with a green thumb today?," asked Mike Haggerty, as his Russian guests laughed once their translator delivered the question.

The Russians know their way around a garden. But it's not likely they do much work with palm trees.

"See the tree trunk? The tree trunk on a palm tree, every one is different. Looks like hair," Haggerty said, as he pointed out a large palm tree.

These gardeners from half a world away are wrapping up a three week visit to America. They took special interest in the variety of palms surrounding the Lazy River.

Climate creates vast differences in horticulture techniques. A warm May in Mississippi is far removed from a winter's day in Russia.

"They say a different approach. Because Russia is much colder. So, not everything is run like it is done in Russia," said one of the visitors, whose name is Igor.

"We're going to turn the water on just for fun. We're going to turn some sprinklers on," Haggerty directed, as the sprinklers jumped to life.

"Irrigation systems in Mississippi, we don't have to drain. No ice," he proudly explained.

The informal workshop comes as the group wraps up a three week visit to Louisiana. The Russians are eager to take home new ideas.

Huey Beverly is with the Franklinton, Louisiana Rotary Club, which is hosting the Russians.

"They're just loving individuals. And we get more out of it than they do. They're very kind and very considerate people. And they want to learn," he said.

The group wasn't content just touring the gardens. Visiting gardeners jumped at the opportunity to plant something in America.

The visitors snapped pictures of their special planting project. They may long remember putting lantanas in the ground outside the Grand Casino Hotel.

The international exchange seemed an unqualified success for both countries.