Visit the Crosby Arboretum
By Patricia Drackett
Director, Crosby Arboretum/ MSU Ext.
Are you a community member who can say you have never been to the Crosby Arboretum? Well, make a resolution this year to visit or volunteer at the Arboretum!
Pearl River County residents are fortunate to live in an area rich in natural beauty. A drive through the county proves that fields and forests abound. Because this is the norm, many persons don’t understand why they would want to visit a public garden that looks pretty much like their backyard. However, the Crosby Arboretum is much like the proverbial many-layered onion.
A variety of educational programs and events are offered at the Arboretum, such as topics on home landscaping and gardening. Learn new methods for designing a low-maintenance home landscape, or attend a craft workshop. A gourd crafting workshop is planned for early March. Native plant sales are offered each quarter. The next sale event will be February 15, in celebration of Mississippi Arbor Day.
Visitors will find that, like the activities, a walk down our pathways can also provide a vastly different experience from one week to the next. Several miles of trails traverse the property, allowing visitors to walk among native plants in their natural habitats. The plants featured at the Arboretum are native to the Pearl River Drainage Basin of Mississippi and Louisiana, in three distinct exhibits. Interpretive signage along the trails points out topics of interest, such as an interesting feature about a plant or animal, or a historical fact.
Approximately one third of the site is in grasslands, known as the Savanna Exhibit. Each year, prescribed fires are conducted on various sections of this exhibit. The Pitcher Plant Bog, located in the southernmost portion of the Savanna Exhibit, contains a boardwalk that allows visitors to see the plants up close. The area changes dramatically from month to month, as different wildflowers come into bloom and their colors and textures dominate the bog.
On Thursdays and Fridays in January and February, the public is invited to observe the prescribed burns in the Savanna exhibit, if weather conditions are favorable. Interested persons may call the Arboretum office around 9:00 a.m. to inquire about whether a burn will be proceeding that day, and if so, what time to arrive for the demonstration.
The remaining two thirds of the site is forested, and known as the Woodland Exhibit. This area offers walkers a deliciously cool respite on hot summer days. But even in the winter months, when the structure of the deciduous trees is revealed, the Arboretum offers an interesting and rewarding experience to visitors.
Intertwined with the grasslands and forest, The Aquatic Exhibit is composed of a variety of wetland habitats. The two acre Piney Woods Pond is the setting of the lovely architecture gem, the Pinecote Pavilion, a Mississippi Landmark structure designed by architect E. Fay Jones. Architects and architecture students who travel through the area on Interstate 59 often drop in to tour the Pavilion.
Our two newest Aquatic Exhibit additions are the Gum Pond, and Swamp Forest educational exhibits. We invite you to take a walk to the northern portion of the property to see the beautiful new bridges that were designed and constructed by MSU architecture and landscape architecture students, under the guidance of Professors Hans Herrmann and Bob Brzuszek.
Teachers and homeschool educators will benefit from the free “WILD About Plants” teachers’ workshop on Saturday, January 11, from9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., sponsored by the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. Learn about how to incorporate botany into the classroom, teaching subjects across the curriculum. CEU›s are available. Contact the office to pre-register.
Mark your calendar for Forge Day event on Saturday, January 25, 2014. See blacksmithing and metalworking demonstrations by area craftsmen, and try your hand at the forge. The event is free for members, $5 for non-members, and $2 for non-members’ children.
For more information, call the Arboretum office at (601) 799-2311 or visit our website at www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu. The garden is 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: Whether you are seeking information on home landscaping, tree identification, backyard wildlife gardens, or a specific plant, insect, or disease, make your first stop the Mississippi State University Extension Service’s website, atwww.MSUcares.com.
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