Arboretum Paths: Plan a spring visit to the Crosby Arboretum

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Could it be that there are any regular readers of this column who have yet to visit the Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum? Perhaps you enjoy reading this weekly installment because of an interest in landscaping, gardening or the desire to learn more about local native plants. If you have never visited, please consider this your invitation to visit!

When out in the local community, we still hear the statement, “I’ve never been to the Arboretum”, or, “I’ve always meant to go there.” It certainly makes our day when we hear a visitor remark, “I’m so glad I came today, and I can’t believe I waited this long”. Many times we have heard the comment, “I never knew all this was here!”

For those of you who have always wondered what “all this” might be, we encourage you to venture down the road behind Walmart, past the commercial enterprises and onto Ridge Road, to what you may have previously considered the “end of civilization”. And if you do, you will discover the visitor’s entrance to a nationally renowned public garden that is simply amazing.

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We are about to enter our most visually appealing time of the year, and also one of the most pleasant times for being outdoors. Spring blooms will soon grace our pathways, adding to the beauty of our grounds. Why not make a point to visit us this spring? Our new program schedule has just been posted on our website, and if you are a person who enjoys gardening or being outdoors, there are numerous events to entice you.

In addition to our outstanding weekend programs, a spring walk through our grounds can offer you a real treat. Spring beauties include the native pink and yellow “honeysuckle” azaleas, with sweet-smelling flowers that attract swallowtail butterflies. Mountain laurel, usually equated only with higher elevations, is found on the banks of the Slough Exhibit. Yellow “buttercups” – the blooms of the yellow pitcher plants, will soon be carpeting the savannas, while along the edges of the Piney Woods Pond in the Aquatic Exhibit spectacular clusters of southern blue flag iris will be awaiting the click of your camera shutter.

Consider making the Arboretum a part of your life – because what you will discover here will truly serve to enrich your life. In addition to enjoying the natural beauty of our grounds, you can choose to learn more about Mississippi’s native plant species, or attend programs focused on Mississippi history or culture. Gardening and landscaping topics are popular, as are events centered on other aspects of nature, perhaps hummingbirds, bats, snakes or mushrooms. The Arboretum is also home to a nationally recognized architectural structure, the Mississippi Landmark Pinecote pavilion, designed by Fay Jones and built by local contractor Lynn Burge.

Although we are used to being obscure, we believe we are becoming more widely appreciated in our coastal area. It was the intent of the Crosby family, as they embarked on the planning of the Arboretum in the early 1980’s, a living memorial for local timber pioneer and philanthropist L.O. Crosby Jr., that this public garden would benefit the local community economically, culturally, and recreationally. Encouraging our local citizens to visit this unique regional Arboretum and to discover what we are all about is our mission, fulfilling the purpose for which it was created.

Take a “test drive” of our property, and take advantage of times during the year when you can visit at no cost, such as during our quarterly native plant sales. Admission is also free to our Strawberries and Cream Festival, when the community is invited to walk the grounds and enjoy fresh strawberries, ice cream, and Frog Lemonade on the lovely Pinecote Pavilion. This year the event will held Sunday, April 12, from 1 to 3 p.m. This event celebrates the roots of the property once being a Depression-era strawberry farm.

The Arboretum has recently established another event which offers opportunities for the public to discover what the Arboretum has to offer – open events for our quarterly art and photography exhibits. Each season we feature a new artist in our gallery area. Photographer Brian Anderson was our winter exhibit, and this Saturday, March 7 from 1 to 3 p.m. will be the gallery opening for award-winning photographer Lana Gramlich. Enjoy light refreshments and view photographs by an artist with a talent for capturing “the moment”. Browse our newly renovated Gift Shop, which features Mississippi craftspersons. Then, pick up our program schedule and a site map, and take a walk through the grounds.

Mark your calendar for our Spring Native Plant Sale on Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, and our annual lecture series on March 28 featuring Rick Darke, author of “The Living Landscape”. See our program calendar on our website at for more information,

The Arboretum is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located in Picayune, off I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59). For more information, see our website or call the office at (601) 799-2311.
FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: Look up the Pinecote Pavilion on your favorite Internet search engine, and also the Thorncrown Chapel, another structure by architect Fay Jones.

By Patricia Drackett
Crosby Arboretum Director