10 Country: Raleigh’s Addictive Flowers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Raleigh’s Addictive Flowers

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September 10, 2003

Brooks Co.--  People often pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for a beautiful yard, but one man defied conventional wisdom. He did it on the cheap, and has hundreds of beautiful plants to show it can be done.

A beautiful yard comes easy for Raleigh Barns because he picked the easy way out. “Anybody wants color in their yard, they are the easiest plant I can think of to grow,” says Raleigh.

He knows from experience by growing hundreds of Coleus, "They're no secret. Water and a little fertilizer,” says Barnes as he picks a couple of blooms from the plants.

His Coleus plants are even more suitable for people who want something pretty for almost nothing. “You can take a three dollar plant and make 15 out of it in two weeks.”

Raleigh did that, starting with three Coleus plants. He doesn’t know how many he has now, but guesses somewhere between 600 and 700. “This is one of the original ones,” says Barnes as he gently touches the light green leaf.

One of the original three plants he started with four years ago, saving and rooting it year after year, like he does all his plants. He spends about 30 minutes a day with his plants, gently removing the blooms for selfish reasons. “If not, they will lose their color faster,” says Barnes as he picks more blooms and drops them to the ground.

No doubt, Raleigh’s passion drives him to the extreme occasionally, having been known to travel a hundred miles to a nursery to see if it had a Coleus he didn’t have. “Every time we go somewhere we find a different color.”

He finds some of the best plants in unusual places. “I got some from a motel and a zoo.” He asked the motel manager if he could have a cutting for his yard, and he didn’t mind sharing.

He’s been to just about place imaginable that sells Coleus. “We must have bought Coleus from 50 nurseries or discount stores,” says Barnes as he mentions the names of several nurseries off the top of his head.

What makes a grown man go crazy over one type of plant that’s so easy to grow? “It’s the color and the shaped leaves,” says Barnes as he touches a dark red leaf with green edges of his favorite plant. It would seem he has every color possible already. Light colors, dark ones, with variations and the different shaped leaves.

 His favorite Coleus has the best of both worlds, “I guess the dark purple and the green on the edge,” says Barns as he snaps another bloom off. Leaf shapes help name some plants. “Look at the shape of the leaf, like a duck’s foot,” says Barnes.

So, now we know why they call it the duck foot Coleus. Another one called the pineapple Coleus grows a few feet from the duck foot. It has the pineapple name because its leaves look like those of a pineapple. It takes some imagination to see the likeness.

Raleigh Barns’ plants brighten up his life. “When you drive up after a shower and they are all a shining, it makes you feel good,” says Barnes. He knows the natural beauty is temporary.

The first freeze kills all his plants, but he takes cuttings and saves them in a greenhouse before they meet their cold death. Then, he starts all over the next year.

A pretty good example of how you can have a beautiful yard and have your money, too.

posted at 9:00AM by dave.miller@walb.com