BY Patricia Drackett, Director/The Crosby Arboretum/ MSU Extension Service
Last week, driving along Highway 90 between Stennis Space Center and Bay St. Louis, I was pleasantly surprised to pass several areas along the road that I hadn’t noticed before which were loaded with the awesome purple spikes of Liatris in full bloom. Some of you might recall seeing this perennial in the Crosby Arboretum’s Savanna Exhibit. Liatris grows in its densest numbers at the south end of our site, near the boardwalk in the Pitcher Plant Bog. This plant is a favorite late summer subject to photograph, as it is often seen surrounded by butterflies attracted to the sweet nectar of the blooms.
Our Liatris at the Arboretum has really been on the increase. A few weeks ago, I was happy to see that we've gained some nice-sized clusters of the purple blooms on the west side of Ridge Road. Since our plants are now well past their peak bloom period, it was a treat to find some local plants that were still going strong.
As I drove further east along on Highway 90, through Bay St. Louis, and around the curve on Henderson Point, I was suddenly surrounded by a cloud of butterflies, including what appeared to be monarchs, gulf fritillaries, yellow sulphurs and common buckeyes. In the next second, I found myself imagining what it would be like to be one of these paper-thin creatures, either sipping nectar from flowers and preparing for a long journey across the Gulf of Mexico, or perhaps arriving in Mississippi after my long flight across the Gulf, ravenous with hunger. Would you rather find an expanse of nicely trimmed lawn, or a lot full of “weedy” blooms? I recall that the late summer and fall of 2006 was a banner year for our coastal butterflie. Journeys along this same stretch of highway often involved passing through what at times seemed to be “butterfly snow”. Anything of beauty appearing after Katrina was well-appreciated, and those weedy blooms covering the newly-vacant lots must have looked pretty yummy to traveling butterflies that year.
Gaillardia pulchella, called blanketflower or Indian blanket, is prevalent along the coastline in areas such as Pass Christian and Long Beach. Also found in our Children’s Butterfly Garden, this is one of the easiest wildflowers to grow. Although commonly classified as an annual, the plant is perennial in the warmer coastal areas. Take a hint from what you see along our roadsides. Why struggle with establishing tender flowering plants in a new landscape? Choose a tough, drought-tolerant plant such as blanketflower known to thrive under harsh conditions. Look up Gaillardia on a website such as www.wildflower.org. You’ll learn that it is a good addition to your butterfly garden, and find additional information on its propagation and cultivation.
At the Arboretum’s recent Bugfest celebration, visitors had the opportunity to observe monarch butterfly chrysalises. They could see the difference between a chrysalis when it was an opaque mint green, adorned with sparkling gold dots, and its later stage when it becomes translucent. Close by, they could see an even earlier stage – that of a very hungry caterpillar chomping on some milkweed, another dependable roadside perennial.
An unbelievable amount of energy is spilling forth from the soil over the last week or two. Grasses such as little bluestem (Schizachyrium) are seemingly bolting overnight. Swamp sunflower (Helianthus) is unfurling, and Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium) are waving at passing butterflies, joining in the symphony our roadsides are now playing.
Swamp sunflower is one of those perennials that seems to grow a foot overnight. It is common in our Savanna Exhibit, and several are planted in the raised beds of our Children’s Garden. Although it is found growing in moist, boggy areas, it also does fine in regular garden soil. Swamp sunflower is particularly attractive to birds and native bees. But it is tough as well as drop-dead gorgeous. In the downtown urban neighborhood only a few blocks from my house, a large cluster of this dependable perennial is a stunning sight to those who pass by. Removing this plant from its roadside home and locating it in a cultivated landscape really gives it a stage on which it can shine. It looks exotic in the garden, but those who wonder about the identity of this plant would probably be surprised to learn it is so incredibly undemanding.
As I’ve often wondered where Joe-Pye weed got its name, I went online to search for the answer. Many sources offer a version of the same story, and I obtained the following from the lovely daily blog of the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville, Tennessee (http://ijamsnature.blogspot.com), because I occasionally pine for my hometown, and once lived next door to this wonderful site. Blog writer tephen Lyn Bales says this plant can attain heights of eight feet. The ones growing in the ditches along Kiln-Delisle Road north of Diamondhead look to be about this height. Stephen reports that Joe Pye is believed to have a Native American medicine man who lived in New England in the 1700’s and used extracts from the plant to treat typhoid fever. If you search for the keywords Joe-Pye weed along with the nature center you’ll find a nice photo of this plant. It is a popular wildflower often recommended for the rear of a perennial border. For more information, please call the Crosby Arboretum office at 601-799-231 or see our program schedule on our website at www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu. Social media links can be found on our homepage. We are open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and located in Picayune, off I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59).
For further exploration:
Have you spotted a monarch butterfly? Find a site on the Internet where you can report your siting. There are also “apps” that you can download to your phone and report observations directly from the field.
Read about monarch migrations on the Web, or in a book such as Robert Michael Pyle’s “Chasing Monarchs: Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage.”
Find a video on the Internet that shows the monarchs arriving in Mexico. How far do they migrate? Learn and tell a friend.
BY Patricia Drackett, Director/The Crosby Arboretum/ MSU Extension Service
Picayune Community Spotlight: Picayune Police Department
The Picayune Police Department has had a year of progress in the war on drugs, 911 capability and high visibility which in no small part has been due to focus on goals; cooperation of city officials and community support and departmental commitment— for example, everyone received the Chief’s Award from Police Chief Bryan Dawsey at the Chamber of Commerce Banquet.
Parker brings Christmas to 95 children
Cathryn Paker has spent all year diligently working on giftboxes for children she will never see. On Thursday, for the fifth consecutive year, she presented those 95 giftboxes for children in need to Christian Care Ministries on behalf of herself and her church, St. Barnabus Anglican Church.
Third annual Christmas on the Rails and Shopping by Candlelight
The Third Annual “Christmas on the Rails” is from 5 until 8 p.m. Friday in conjunction with Picayune Main Street’s Shop by Candlelight and Art Works sponsored by Greater Picayune Arts Council (GPAC). Art Works and Shop by Candlelight go on until 9 p.m. Sometime during the evening, the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce will announce the winner of the Best Decorated Store Front contest.
CWC Pilgrimage: A second time around
D.L. and Sandra Barker Bolton invite you to join them for the “second time around” as they open their home for the Civic Woman’s Club Christmas Pilgrimage to be held on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 2 until 7 p.m.
Both of them were on the first tour of homes when Civic Woman’s Club started the Pilgrimage in 1986. D.L. and his late wife, Wanda, had a Renaissance Christmas, and Sandra and her late husband, Larry, had a Victorian Christmas.
Business withstands test of time
McDonald Funeral Home, now owned and operated by Steve and Ann
McDonald, is a 96-year-old family run business with several long time
employees and was the recent recipient of the 2013 Excellence in
Business Award from the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce.
Vocability: Did Black Friday make you blue?
The holiday shopping season has begun and in its honor this week’s
column relates to retail terminology.
Anyone who has either had a part-time job or has been known as a
frequent shopper has most likely encountered several of these terms.
Match the ones you know and learn the others because it will give you
a whole perspective on your shopping experience.
As always, the answers are at the bottom of the column.
Partners delivers Presents for Pearl River County
“Our vision was to coordinate with all three county school districts and have students anonymously adopted like the programs used with ‘Angel Tree’ and such,” said Herndon, who is Children's Minister at First Baptist Church in Picayune. “We have two locations for trees that will have ornaments representing children in need. One is at Coast Electric in Picayune and the other is at the Poplarville Courthouse.”
Coast Electric is located at 6375 U.S. 11, in Picayune. The Poplarville Courthouse is located at 200 Highway 26 E, in Poplarville. The trees are conveniently located for access when the facilities are closed.
Toys for Tots registration and drive
Boxes are available in Picayune, Poplarville, Crossroads, Millard, McNeill and Carriere.
In Picayune, a few of the many locations to find them are: Crosby Library, Highland Community Hospital, Picayune Police Department and SPCA. In Poplarville, a few of the many locations to find them are: Jacob’s Well, Chamber of Commerce and Hancock Bank. In Crossroads, a box is located at Crossroad Seafood and Grill. In McNeill, a box is located at McNeill Travel Plaza. In Carriere, boxes can be found at Hide-A-Way Lake and PRC School ROTC.
To sign up, go to WORC from Monday, Dec. 2 through Friday, Dec 6, during the hours of 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. through noon. Those needing further information can call 769-926-1333.
Fred Cruse Foundation again giving away bicycles
All donations can be either dropped off or mailed to Fred’s Westside Pharmacy located at 207 Kirkwood St., Picayune, MS 39466. For more information call Diane Cruse at 601-798-8888.
Angel Tree for children
Trees with angel ornaments to adopt can be found at Wal-Mart and Highland Community Hospital. Those who would like to sponsor a child through Angel Tree, or find out more about it, may call the church at 601-798-6301 or visit the Internet site at www.angeltree.org.
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