Clyde Davis sows seeds of beauty through his love of nature, photography and gardening.
Davis posts one photo every day to Facebook and he is a Miller County Red Dirt Master Gardener. His passions add a smile to others' days.
"I love pretty flowers, but I am not a flower gardener. There are some things like sunflowers and zinnias that go along with my kind of gardening.
"Those zinnias bring so much joy for the butterflies and hummingbirds and so much joy in just seeing them. But photographing them is even better," he said.Gallery: Picture perfect plants
Traversing his garden late in the growing season, a solid wall of sunflowers commands the expansive space with about five different colors or types.
"I love that. I love seeing plants and nurturing them along to their maturity," he said.
Davis, 82, is a frequent fixture at the Master Gardeners' demonstration garden at Gateway Farmers Market at East Ninth Street and Jefferson Avenue.
He's quick to say his Facebook posts are not controversial, political or inappropriate.
Instead, they feature his photos of flowers, butterflies or birds in his or someone else's garden. There is an occasional stained glass window or cat photo in his timeline. Each photo is accompanied by a short, supportive sentiment.
"I enjoy the people I've got on there," he says of his Facebook friends. "Some of them communicate with me that they enjoy the photos, and if someone enjoys what I do, it energizes me to try hard or try harder to make a good picture or make a better picture and tell a story."
He has posted a photo on Facebook every day for five years, which is quite a bit of dedication and exposure.
"You can tell how many pictures that is by multiplying Now I won't tell you that I haven't scrambled sometimes to get a photo If I can take 15 pictures in my garden, that's 15 days I don't have to worry about going somewhere else and making pictures," he said, adding he considers it an honor when he takes photos in someone else's garden or outdoor space.
"Wherever there is beauty, I try to stop and take a photo, with people's permission, at their residence."
A hospitalization a few years back didn't keep him from posting a daily photo on Facebook.
"I sent enough pictures on my phone that I could put them on Facebook. The nurse walked in and wanted to know why I was sitting up in bed," he said, a proud smile on his face. "The photos are restful, peaceful — that sort of thing."
He and his wife, Earlene "Sammie" Davis, met in college and were married in 1959. They have two children and three grandchildren.
His focus on photography truly began when he was working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1959-60.
"I worked in Heber Springs on Greers Ferry Lake Dam and then we went on up to Eureka Springs and worked on Beaver Dam.
"As time went along, I assumed the duties of making progress pictures of the dams and that really sparked my love of photography. I saw all the possibilities you could do with photography. I was a big fan of the photography magazines like National Geographic. I enjoyed seeing the photography," he said.
Davis was accepted into Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, one of the top photography schools in the United States in the latter part of 1960.
"It was an outstanding school, we did a little bit of everything: food, model, fashion photography."
He was mainly interested in taking pictures of people, and he and his wife moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in late 1962. They stayed there for about a year.
"Then we got an opportunity. A lady called from Hope saying her brother, who owned Shipley Photography, had passed away. She asked me to come and run the studio for six months and take school pictures. We saw that it would be advantageous to live in a small town. We did all the photography in the area The town accepted us as family. While we were there, our son was born, which was another reason to settle down in a small town."
In 1990, Davis and his family moved to Houston so he could pursue his aspiration of becoming an air traffic controller. He had earned his pilot's license when he was 16 and had worked a summer job at an airport while attending high school.
After a brief time as an air traffic controller, he later returned to Hope and bought back the photography studio. He also worked for Arkansas Farm Bureau and then a three-year stint with Griffin Realtors before retiring 11 years ago.
But Davis' fascination with gardening rooted itself early in his life while growing up in the Benton area.
"My family has always been of the rural nature. My dad was always a big gardener. I never liked it because my job was hoeing and the drudge stuff. I backed away from it (drudge stuff) as far as I could," he said.
"But I always loved nature and admired anyone who excelled in gardening. I really enjoy flowers, that is the main thing I enjoy. But I don't enjoy growing them. My saying is, 'If you can't eat it, don't grow it.'
"I have found that the vegetables taste a lot better than the flowers. I enjoy flowers, but as far as what I grow and what I have a desire to grow, it's vegetables. But if you notice, there are blooms on vegetables. Many of the blooms are yellow. There's tomatoes, squash, cucumber, okra, watermelon and cantaloupe," he said.
He is an advocate of gardening's many benefits.
"It's therapeutic, for one thing. I love the smell of the dirt and the anticipation of spring, getting ready for the tomatoes and other vegetables. During the winter, I have a hoop house covered with plastic and the temperature is such that I will go out there early in the morning, planting my seeds and getting them ready to plant in the beds," he said.
"The end product is I love tomatoes and fresh vegetables but in the meantime I enjoy going to the garden and seeing the plants growing, seeds sprouting as the plants come up in bloom and flower, I get my camera and take a picture right quick," he said.
Gourds are also a staple in Davis' garden.
"We have always loved gourds. My wife loves to paint them and work on them. It's part of her craft thing. And I love to grow them for her. She likes to make snowmen and birdhouses with the gourds," he said.
If a plant or vine is doing well where it is, Davis said he does not like to pick it.
He says gardening, or growing fresh produce, is accessible for everyone.
"There is no yard too small for a garden, whether you desire to have one tomato plant, two tomato plants or something larger. Gardens come in all sorts of shapes and forms. Or, if you would rather purchase the produce, that can be done at Gateway Farmers Market," he said.
Davis has a long-standing connection to Master Gardeners.
"Years ago, a Little Rock TV station had an interesting program with Janet Carson. It was on gardening and she was head of the Master Gardeners in Arkansas. She made everything sound good, look good and made you want to do it. I saw her, called her, talked to her and she said, 'You ought to have a (Master Gardener) program down there in Texarkana.' So that happened to be the weekend the gardening show was going on, and I went and talked to her a little bit," he said.
The first Master Gardener program was offered in Miller County not long after that, in 1992.
Davis was in that first class but had to forego the classes because of his work schedule.
He remained interested in Master Gardeners and attended some of their events and demonstrations.
Three years ago, Davis officially joined Master Gardeners and completed the courses and training.
This year's Master Gardener courses will be offered online. The deadline to have applications in is Oct. 1. Those enrolling must complete 40 hours of education at their own pace as long as they are complete by Dec. 15.
The cost is $85. Those interested in enrolling should contact Janet Smallwood at 870-779-3609 or email [email protected]
After completing the course, the first-year requirements are to perform service work in projects like working at the group's demonstration garden at the farmers market, or areas the group maintains near the Miller County Courthouse or growing plants for and working at various plant sales.
Another 20 hours of education is required in 2021.