Sunday’s Strawberries & Cream Festival will feature book signing

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Exhibit design:  Professor Bob Brzuszek speaks with his Mississippi State University landscape architecture students who presented their class design project for the Arboretum’s Gum Pond Educational Exhibit in March 2010. Brzuszek will be available to sign his newly released book on the Crosby Arboretum at this Sunday’s event. Photo by Patricia Drackett

Exhibit design: Professor Bob Brzuszek speaks with his Mississippi State University landscape architecture students who presented their class design project for the Arboretum’s Gum Pond Educational Exhibit in March 2010. Brzuszek will be available to sign his newly released book on the Crosby Arboretum at this Sunday’s event.
Photo by Patricia Drackett

By Patricia Drackett

Director, Crosby Arboretum/ MSU Extension

Are you ready for some strawberries and ice cream?

On Sunday afternoon, April 13, from 1 to 3 p.m., the Arboretum will hold its annual Strawberries & Cream Festival. Come stroll among gorgeous pink blossoms of sweet-smelling honeysuckle azalea (Rhododendron canescens), and past the blooming blue flag iris (Iris virginica) near the fountain, and join us in the beautiful natural setting of the Pinecote Pavilion.

Admission is free and open to the public. Bring your family and friends, and help us celebrate the history of the old strawberry farm on our lovely Pinecote Pavilion. Ice cream, fresh strawberries, Picayune Frog Lemonade, and more will be served.

A very special event at Strawberries & Cream this day will be a premier booksigning by Bob Brzuszek, author of “The Crosby Arboretum: A Sustainable Regional Landscape” (LSU Press), which officially released on April 7. Copies of the book will be available at the event.

Robert “Bob” Brzuszek is the former Site Director/Curator of the Crosby Arboretum. He has been involved with the public garden for more than twenty-five years, beginning with his work as a graduate student at LSU when he performed a research project in one of the Arboretum’s associated natural areas. Later, Bob’s thesis work involved one of the Arboretum’s proposed exhibits.

After fourteen years as Arboretum curator, Bob joined the Department of Landscape Architecture at Mississippi State University. Today, as a professor in the department, he guides his students in implementing planning and design projects that give them valuable experience in designing ecologically-based projects, but are serving to build out the site’s award-winning Master Plan which was designed by Andropogon Associates of Philadelphia, and the Arboretum’s first director, landscape architect Ed Blake, Jr.

After some lively conversation, ice cream and strawberries, and cookies and punch, perhaps you’ll enjoy taking a walk to visit our field of “buttercups” – the yellow pitcher plants (Sarracenia alata) found in the south Pitcher Plant Bog. Right now they are quite a sight, dotting the low grasslands which were the subject of a prescription burn only a short while ago in January.

If you journey down the side path from the Pavilion and walk about three-quarters of the way around the Piney Woods Pond, you will arrive on a large wooden deck. This area is known as Cypress Cove. Soak in the beauty of the delicate new leaves unfolding from pond cypress that grow next to the deck (Taxodium ascendens).

Growing in the water adjacent to the deck you will see the broad leaves of golden-club (Orontium aquaticum). This plant features tall flower spikes with yellow tips and is also called “never-wet” because of the waxy coating on its leaves.

From the deck, follow the sign that directs you eastward into the Pitcher Plant Bog. Enjoy it while you can in cooler weather – in only a few months this area will be hot and steamy, perfect for Mississippi wildflowers preferring bog habitats. Walk out onto the boardwalk that is starting to come alive with young dragonflies looking for a mosquito meal. Butterflies are already flitting about and searching for nectar.

Look closely as you stroll along the boardwalk, or squat down to peer into the bog environment. You will see other treasures tucked among the tufts of native grasses, such as tiny rosettes of sparkling sundews (Drosera brevifolia), or pint-size parrot pitcher plants, with maroon blooms and leaves shaped like tiny spotted cobra heads. Across the bog, closer to the road and surrounded by towering longleaf pine, hundreds of blue polka-dots are currently blooming, scattered through the bog, flowers of blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium).

Want to learn more about how to create a low-maintenance and attractive home landscape using Mississippi native plants? Come to the Arboretum on Saturday, April 12 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. for a program on “Home Landscaping with Native Plants” presented by Arboretum director Pat Drackett. The program is free to members and $5 for non-members.

For more information or to sign up for a class, call (601) 799-2311 or visit the website at www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu. The Arboretum 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: To read more about Bob’s book, see the Arboretum’s Facebook page for a link to the MSU Department of Landscape Architecture’s blog, or visit http://msulalc.blogspot.com/.