PICAYUNE — Cool mornings have given us the recent hope that autumn days are just around the corner, and the promise that our outdoor tasks will soon be conducted on days with more agreeable temperatures. The cooler weather provides better conditions for our landscape projects, and the fall and winter months give an extended period for roots to establish before warm temperatures return.
Last week’s landscape design and renovation program put us in the mood for fall planting, and our native plant sale this Friday and Saturday will include many Mississippi native species that offer you some great garden benefits. Who doesn’t want to save time and money by introducing dependable, low-maintenance plants to your home landscape? When native plants — or any plants, for that matter — are given the site conditions they prefer, they will thrive.
Because native plants are adapted to our local climate, they are generally easier to care for, meaning, little to no fertilizer will be required. Pest and disease problems tend to not be as substantial, thus avoiding the need for you to purchase chemicals to combat these issues. The reduced use of chemicals in turn will lead to a healthier local water supply.
Bigleaf magnolia is a popular request at the Arboretum’s plant sales. Both this tree and Ashe’s magnolia will be available. You can see examples of these two deciduous magnolias when crossing the first bridge on our Arrival Journey, approaching the Visitor Center. Mature bigleaf magnolias have leaves that can measure up to three feet in length, and both trees possess show-stopping spring blooms.
Ashe’s magnolia has a similar appearance to the bigleaf magnolia, but has shorter leaves, up to two feet in length. It will produce blooms on a much younger plants than bigleaf magnolia, which can take 10 to 15 years to produce a flower. An Ashe’s magnolia, however, may bloom in only four years. Both trees prefer rich, moist, well-drained soil and are at home in the forest understory, although full sun will produce a straighter plant with more abundant blooms.
Oakleaf hydrangea, pink honeysuckle azalea, and Grancy greybeard are popular garden shrubs that will be found at the sale. Oakleaf hydrangea is favored for the coarse texture of its leaves, gorgeous white lasting bloom spikes, and scarlet hues that rev up the temperature of your fall garden. The sweet-smelling pink blooms of native azalea are virtual butterfly magnets in the spring.
Pay attention to where you see the native azaleas blooming along the Arboretum pathways. Then, plant your new acquisitions in similar conditions in your own landscape. Take care to monitor the water during the first year or two following planting. Like other azaleas, the roots will require consistent attention to providing water for root establishment.
The threadlike white blooms of Grancy greybeard, also called fringe tree, make it a striking old-fashioned favorite. Its unusual flowers will light up your spring garden. The blooms have a sweet but not overpowering fragrance. Fringe tree is not only an attractive specimen tree, but is a great plant for your wildlife garden because of its grape-like fruit. Although it prefers a moist, well-drained soil, it will tolerate drier conditions.
Muscadines, mayhaws, and southern crabapples are native fruiting species that will be available at the sale. Trees will include southern sugar maple, southern magnolia, longleaf pine, Eastern redbud, spruce pine, red maple, sweetbay magnolia, pond and bald cypress, and river birch.
A species list for the plant sale will be available on our website’s homepage. The Crosby Arboretum library also extends lending privileges to members, and Arboretum volunteer Tammy Mokray has recently cataloged a number of new books on the topics of native plants and landscaping that will provide inspiration for you fall planting projects.
The Arboretum’s Fall Native Plant Sale will take place this Friday and Saturday, September 20 & 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Join Arboretum staff and volunteers, and Pearl River County Master Gardeners, who will help you to choose the right plant for the right place on your property. On both days, site admission will be free, so if you haven’t been out to the Arboretum in a while or have always wondered what goes on here, please pay us a visit.
BugFest, our yearly event that celebrates the insect world, will return on Friday, Sept. 27, providing both schoolchildren and the public the chance to interface with Mississippi State University entomology students and professors. Bring in your insect specimens for identification, or receive instruction on how to properly mount insects for your collection. The event will begin on Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. for registered school groups, and will conclude that day around 10 p.m. following fun-filled night collecting activities that begin at dusk, and children’s crafts and games that will begin on the Buggy Midway at 6 p.m. The fun continues Saturday, Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will include two presentations by The Audubon Institute’s Bugmobile, beginning at 10 and 10:45 a.m.
Visit a bee hive in the Children’s Garden area and talk with Dr. Jeff Harris, the MSU Extension Service’s new beekeeping expert. Those who would like to start or add to their collection can download an informative 4-H entomology handbook from the program calendar page of our website at www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu. Just click on the bug on the Arboretum’s program calendar page.
The Crosby Arboretum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59).
For further exploration:
Visit the Arboretum’s Native Plant Data Base that is linked from our website’s home page to learn more about the plants mentioned that will be offered at the sale.
After doing so, assess your property before attending the sale to understand its unique sun and shade conditions, soil type and moisture, and attributes and challenges so that you will be able to make appropriate selections for your landscape projects.