New director aims to raise awareness of arboretum

Published 5:25 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Crosby Arboretum’s new director hopes to use her years of experience to raise awareness of and public participation at Pearl River County’s native plant habitat.

Pat Drackett, the arboretum’s new director, has decades of experience with plants and is looking forward to the opportunity to talk about them on a regular basis.

Drackett said she would like to see more people come to the arboretum and experience Pearl River County’s native plants in their natural habitat, which includes all of their companion plants as well.

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With her comes the knowledge of plants and teachings of influential professors she has experienced. She said she is looking forward to growing gray hairs during her years of service at the arboretum while sharing those experiences.

“… now I have the chance to give back all the experience I’ve absorbed over the years,” Drackett said.

She began with a master’s degree in Landscape and Architecture from Louisiana State University. She then did landscape design and horticultural consulting for various contractors in Orlando, Fla. for 20 years before moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to work for the last 10 years.

While the arboretum, which is part of Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, is well known for the unique architecture of the Pinecote Pavilion and for harboring many kinds of native plants, local participation is lax at times.

“We’re nationally famous but locally obscure,” Drackett said.

Raising volunteer participation is one of her goals since there are many opportunities for people to become involved in events from prescribed burns to directing traffic during events, she said.

One of the other goals Drackett said she would like to accomplish is to expand the number of plant sales. The arboretum already has a number of scheduled plant sales, but Drackett said she would like to expand on them and have plants for sale year round.

“I want to make the sales legendary again by increasing variety and quality,” Drackett said.

The next scheduled plant sale, the Arbor Day Plant Sale, will take place Saturday, Feb. 2. The sale will begin at 9 a.m. for arboretum members and at 10 a.m. for the general public and last until 3 p.m.

Through the plant sales and a slew of educational programs Drackett hopes to increase membership at the arboretum. Some of the educational programs include Feeding Birds in Winter at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12; Creating a Backyard Wildlife Habitat at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, and Growing More in Small Places at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 24. For a list of more classes and information visit

In the future, a new educational center is proposed to be built at the arboretum. A tentative completion date for the new building has not been released since developing funds and funding are still in the works, Drackett said.

Hurricane Katrina left it’s mark on the arboretum, but only minor repairs were conducted to the site. Outside of repairing the Pinecote Pavilion and clearing paths and roadways, vegetative debris will be left where it is so nature can take its course.

“The coast has seen hurricanes for thousands of years so it’s just a part of nature,” Drackett said.