Who was the Crosby Arboretum created for?

Published 2:51 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We’ve decided to spill the beans. Yes, it’s time that we let everyone in on a very big secret. Do you know who the Crosby Arboretum was created for? All this was done for – you.

If you have ever wondered what goes on at the Arboretum, this is the perfect weekend to learn the answer to that question. We’d like to officially invite you to our annual Strawberries and Cream Festival, which will be held on the Pinecote Pavilion from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday, April 10 for— you guessed it — strawberries, ice cream, and of course, Picayune Frog Lemonade. This event, and entry to our site, is free. So, no more excuses! We would welcome the chance to have you visit and see the Arboretum in all its spring glory.

Current attractions include our yellow pitcher plants, which are blooming in the bog. These plants are called “buttercups” by locals, and we’ve already had many appreciators who have told us of their childhood memories growing up on land that contained bountiful numbers of these plants. Our Louisiana iris, mountain laurel, and flame azaleas with their orange and yellow blooms, are all waiting for you to enjoy them. Butterflies have been busily flitting about in our recently completed Children’s Butterfly Garden, which was made possible through a grant from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne at Stennis Space Center. So, come join the many visitors who have exclaimed, “I’ve been driving by your site for years, and just never stopped in. Now that I came today, I wish I had started coming out here – five – ten – twenty years ago.” But, let me assure you, it is absolutely never too late to start!

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This past Sunday, a memorial celebration was held at the Arboretum’s Pinecote Pavilion for Ed Blake, Jr., our first director (1984 to 1994). One of the speakers that day pondered the question of who Arboretum had been designed for. The answer is — it has been created for all who journey down its pathways, and find wonder at the surprises revealed around each bend. Perhaps that wonder will be for you a soft “plop” from a river otter or a turtle when you cross over a bridge, or maybe when you spy a plant having an unusual bloom you’ve never seen before and would like to use in your home garden.

Founded as a living memorial to local timber pioneer L.O. Crosby, Jr. by his family in 1979, the purpose of the Arboretum was to provide a cultural, educational, and economic benefit to the local community. In 1997, the Arboretum became part of Mississippi State University, and is operated by the Extension Service. Gardeners will find our site of interest because we have planted over 12,000 native plants on our site, which was a former pine plantation, and a Depression-era strawberry farm. Each plant that was added has been located within the specific site conditions that it prefers, called its “plant community”. By observing the conditions that our plants prefer, you can learn from our living laboratory, seeing what trees, shrubs, and perennials would be suited to your own property.  

What are native plants, you ask? Well, a simple definition is that they are the plants that found here prior to European settlement — plants that are adapted to our region, soils, and climate. Native plants are the ones that are happily thriving in the vacant lot down the street while you are spend your valuable time watering your garden during a drought. And, they are also the trees and shrubs that you see, when you come back from vacation or time away from Pearl River County, that simply make you feel like you are finally home.

Whether you are a student, a gardener, someone who simply needs a change of pace, are searching for a location for your walking regiment, need a new place to take the grandchildren, the Crosby Arboretum is sure to have something that will delight you.

Upcoming programs and events at the Arboretum include a children’s program this Saturday, April 9 starting at 10 a.m., “Mini Greenhouses”. Children will create mini-terrariums with Master Naturalist Mary Cordray. Program cost for members’ children is $2 and non-members’ children are $4 (no charge for adults). On April 16, come celebrate the 41st anniversary of Earth Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attend a presentation at 10 a.m. on Louisiana iris with Dr. Patrick O’Conner, President of the Greater New Orleans Iris Society and Eileen Hollander, Iris Society Vice President. O’Conner and Hollander will discuss iris hybridization, propagation, and culture. Avid bird guide and author Susan Epps will speak at 1 p.m. on Earth Day, on bird migration. Exhibitors will also be set up at our Visitors’ Center. Here, you will enjoy learning about a variety of gardening topics such as rain barrels, butterfly gardening, composting and compost tea, homemade soapmaking, organic gardening, beekeeping, and more. The cost for Earth Day is our regular site admission, $5 for adults ($4 for seniors), and $2 for children.

The Arboretum’s spring native plant sale will be held on Saturday and Sunday, April 23 and 24. Come early for the best selection of many hard-to-find plants. We’ll have plant professionals on hand to help you select the right plant for the right place on your property. The sale is held near the Arboretum greenhouse and admission is free. A blues performance will be held on Saturday, April 23 at 1 p.m., during our plant sale. Come hear Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry and Band on the Pinecote Pavilion. Perry has been performing his original style, a blend of Mississippi Hill Country and Delta Blues, for more than 40 years in festivals and clubs all over the country and the world. Tickets to the performance are $5 for members, and $3 for members’ children, and $10 for non-members, and $6 for non-members’ children.  

The Arboretum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu or call the office at (601) 799-2311. The Arboretum is located in Picayune, off I-59 Exit 4, on Ridge Road (between Wal-Mart and I-59.)  



Go outside in your backyard or school yard to find and observe ten plants or animals such as birds, insects, etc., and then create ten ”why”, “where”, “when” or “how” questions. Examples: When are the nuts from the pecan tree ready to eat? Where do squirrels sleep at night? What do wasps eat? Then, look up the answers. Share them with your class. See if they can guess your answers!