2013 Wall of Fame Honoree
Margie Yates Jenkins was born September 5, 1921, in St. Tammany Parish, the eldest of six children. Throughout her childhood her parents farmed cotton and sugar cane and owned a large tree farm. Additionally, the family owned cattle and a large herd of sheep with the sale of sheep’s wool supplying a large part of the family’s annual income.
In 1938, Margie graduated from Franklinton High School and began working with the Farm Security Administration (later called the Farmers Home Administration). In 1946 she married Bryant Jenkins and in 1951, they moved to the farm where she still lives, today.
The next year, in 1952, Margie and Bryant planted a small field of watermelons as their first cash crop and started a dairy operation which continued until 1996. Three years later, in 1955, as their young family continued to grow, Margie stopped working outside the home in order to be with their children. Their family grew to include five children in total (Frederick, Margie Ann, Timothy, Jeffrey, & Mark).
In 1960, Margie and her husband Bryant began their own nursery – growing and selling ligustrums. They purchased the first 50 acres of her current nursery, followed by an additional 128 acres of tung tree plantation, just across the street. They began integrating more nursery materials into their operation – more ligustrums, azaleas and native azaleas.
In 1974, a small nursery container yard was installed as an addition to their field-grown nursery stock. Two years later, in 1976, Margie commuted to LSU to take a course from Dr. Neil Odenwald, inspiring her to find her life’s work – the cultivation of rare and native plants. In 1977 she returned to work at the nursery, where she remains, today.
Named Outstanding Nurserypersons of the Year 1993 (Bryant and Margie) for their outstanding service to the nursery industry. Recipient of the James A. Foret Award in 2000, given by the Louisiana Nursery Association for service, dedication and outstanding contributions to Louisiana’s ‘Green Industry’. Recipient of the Karlene DeFatta Award in 2002 from the Louisiana Native Plant Society, for accomplishment in conservation, preservation and education of the public in the appreciation and use of native plants. Recipient of the Slater Wight Memorial Award in 2005 from the Southern Nursery Association for her contribution to the advancement of the industry in the south and to the welfare of the Southern Nursery Association – the 50th recipient of this award, and the first woman to hold this distinguished honor. Fellow Awardee of the International Plant Propagators’ Society in 2005 for the Southern Region of North America.
Ms. Margie’s focus, remains, the cultivation of rare, unusual and native plants for the landscape trade, with a special interest in native azaleas. Decades of this work have generated a wealth of respect for Ms. Margie and her late husband, Bryant.
She is nationally known as a long-time authority and breeder of azaleas and other native plants.