BROOKS - Patti Tucker has one of the greenest thumbs in Kentucky and the most blue ribbons to prove it.
Her 13 ribbons from the 2011 Kentucky State Fair could be a record in the horticulture competition.
Tucker also earned four platters, one honoring the Best Horticulture Excellence Specimen for her red Crown of Thorns, a spiny plant that can grow up to six feet in height. Tucker’s plant stand over five.
Another platter was earned for the Container Grown Sweepstakes, acquiring the most blue ribbons in container plant competitions.
The 13 ribbons include three major ribbons, all for the Crown of Thorns, and three blue ribbons.
All of Tucker’s success was earned in only her second year of competition at the fair.
“I’ve been growing plants my whole life,” she said. “Every year I would go and look. I thought it would be fun to put something in that no one else had seen.”
Tucker’s first year of competition resulted in one ribbon for a plant called Pumpkin on a Stick, an eggplant that resembles small pumpkins growing from the plant.
Despite the competition success, Tucker readily admits her plants and flowers are grown for fun. Her home is literally lined with hundreds of planters featuring various plants, flowers, shrubs and trees.
“It takes me about three hours a day to water,” she said. “I can’t go on vacation in the summer.”
The self-taught horticulturist credited her parents and their families for the natural green thumb. Her mother’s family grew vegetable gardens; her father’s dealt in shipping vegetables and flowers.
“I inherited the green thumb,” Tucker said. “If God gives you a talent you should use it. God gave me a green thumb.”
Her current family, consisting of husband Mike and three adult sons, have also found a way to help Tucker with her efforts.
“Every fall they help me take the plants inside,” she said. “And every Mother’s Day my gift is they bring them all back out.”
Tucker mentioned she grows most of her plants in pots because of the Bullitt County soil.
“Too much clay,” she said. “It doesn’t take.”
The plants help Tucker to offer some of her plants as gifts to visitors and house guests.
“The most gratifying thing is to share,” she said.
At a former church she attended Tucker was known as the “Flower Child” for decorating the altar with different specimens each Sunday.
Tucker is proud of her winning plants and continues to take care of all of her greenery,
“It’s my passion, but it’s work,” she said. “If it was easy, everybody would do it.”
Along with the plants, Tucker earned another Kentucky State Fair ribbon for a special memento.
Tucker won a red ribbon in the War-Related Relics competition for a small Japanese family flag from World Way II.
The flag was taken from a deceased Japanese soldier following the Battle of Attu between the Japanese Northern Army and the 7th Infantry Division of the United States Army.
The 20-day battle in May 1943 was important for control of the shipping lanes near the Alaskan Aleutian Islands.
Tucker’s father, Richard M. Siewert, Sr., was a medic. He brought the flag home as a souvenir of the battle. Siewert died in 1980.
The flag is a Japanese national flag with writing on it that includes well wishes from family and friends. Tucker said it is believed to include the soldier’s name and address.
According to Tucker, she was told the writing are in “an Old Japanese style” that many have trouble translating.
The flag has a series of holes in it where a bullet traveled through it. Tucker said the flag was apparently folded up in the soldier’s chest pocket.
Tucker mentioned her father never truly explained the souvenir to her, nor did he discuss what he did in the war. She said deciding to enter the flag in competition and earning a ribbon helped her deal with it.
The flag came in second to a mint condition World War I military uniform.