By Reba Phelps
If you have driven through the charming brick streets of the award-winning Historic District of Downtown Natchitoches then you are familiar with the lush and beautiful seasonal plantings. With every new season that arrives, you will witness the changing of the breathtaking horticulture and groundskeeping. Spring time gives birth to azaleas, daffodils and the ever popular, budding pots of tulips. These stunning tulips can be found on every corner of the streets, boasting as many hues as an Easter basket full of Truvy’s dyed eggs.
This past week the famous tulips were putting on a colorful show. My youngest daughter was stunned by their beauty but worried for their well-being with the impending stormy weather that was about to befall us. She was not worried about the safety of our town or the revival on the river bank that we were about to attend. She was most concerned over “Mr. Tim’s Tulips” that he just put out.
She went on to share with me that when Mr. Tim taught her class at church on Wednesday nights that he would sometimes come in directly from planting the tulips, caring for them and even occasionally sheltering the them from whatever weather event that would hinder them from growing. She also explained that this meant he possibly would have on his work clothes and appear as if his hands had been planting and cultivating something. Of course, this would lead to many questions asked by the prying children.
This is when my daughter began to share all of the knowledge she gained about the tulips that night. But, she was increasingly concerned that the incoming storm would ruin all of Mr. Tim’s hard work, so I told her that we would pray for the tulips that night at the revival and of course, the safety of our town.
But, I also wondered if my daughter had learned any other lessons while telling this story. I saw the wonder behind the story she was telling but I wanted her to see it on her own….
When we arrived at the revival that night, we happened to sit right in front of the renowned tulip master himself, Mr. Tim. So I mentioned the prayers that were coming from our household to protect the beauty of his downtown gardens. He has such a humble nature that he is quick to remind anyone that he works with a team to perfect the production of the many plants downtown. They are called the “Beautification Team”.
The team consists of Mathew Dillon, Joe Jones, Tim Hippler, Seth Freeman, Stacey Lawrence, Brian Jones, Brandon Graham, Randy Lacaze and Alicia Christophe. Mr. Tim is the Supervisor of this amazing squad. He also gives credit to the Master Gardeners and our local 4-H Clubs through the years.
If you are like me you probably wonder every year how we can have such amazing tulips in our deep southern town, it needs to be noted that this does not happen by chance. There are over 14,000 tulip bulbs that are ordered from Holland every October and kept in a walk-in cooler. In February the bulbs get planted into 2,000 pots. By mid-March they are beginning to show off their spring color by the time they make their debut downtown.
Last year during the rigid snow and ice the team had to move the 2,000 pots indoors for protection. When the electricity gave way, Tim even went back and forth several times to keep nation propane heaters running. That year they only lost 20. The weight of the ice and snow caved the roof in and the crew crawled in to pull them out with a dramatic rescue and recovery.
It is quite the fete….these downtown plants. This could only be accomplished by hands that truly love the feel of the soil and the beauty that it creates. Hands that have a gift for art and a heart for God and all of his creations.
Although Tim is a Graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Art (Visual Communication/Graphic Art) he has dedicated the last 30 years creating the Long Purple Line Portraits for Northwestern State University.
During Tim’s spare time, if you can believe that he has any, he has blessed many children and families at First Baptist Church with his selfless acts of teaching in the Children’s Ministry, Sunday School Teacher, and Vacation Bible School for nineteen years. He was the Children’s Director for five years and continues to serve at Wednesday Glow Family Nights. He is now a Bible Story Artist who draws with pastels to illustrate as the Bible Story is being told.
One of the children blessed to be in his, and his wife Melody’s, care is my daughter. When Tim shared with us that they only lost 4 pots of tulips in the recent storm, my daughter smiled because she knew we prayed for the tulips and all of Mr. Tim’s hard work. When I questioned her further about what she learned from Mr. Tim faithfully teaching children after working a long day for the City of Natchitoches, she said she felt like he never let anything get in the way of him serving God.
While Tim Murchison continues to plant seeds that make our town lovely and beautiful season after season…the seeds he has planted for the Kingdom of God will bloom eternally.
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands.”