Arboretum paths: Celebrate Arbor Day with a sale

Published 9:52 am Thursday, February 16, 2017

 Photo credit: Pat Drackett  Buzzing in: Southern crabapple (Malus angustifolia) has attractive pink blooms, making it a highly desirable native specimen tree. The fruit is attractive to local wildlife.

Photo credit: Pat Drackett
Buzzing in: Southern crabapple (Malus angustifolia) has attractive pink blooms, making it a highly desirable native specimen tree. The fruit is attractive to local wildlife.

By Patricia R. Drackett

Director of the Crosby Arboreteum and assistant extension professor of landscape architecture with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Each year, the Crosby Arboretum holds an Arbor Day plant sale, which offers a selection of Mississippi native trees and shrubs for late winter planting. The sale will take place this Saturday, April 18. from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Although National Arbor Day is always the last Friday in April, states celebrate the event at different dates based on the planting times best for each state. Arbor Day was first observed in Nebraska City, Nebraska on April 10, 1872. On that day, approximately one million trees were planted in the state!

Ten years later, the first official Arbor Day celebration took place in Cincinnati, Ohio, and instituted the event as school festival.

Memorial tree planting was encouraged. This began the nationwide acceptance of the occasion.

Arbor Day became an official day of observance in Mississippi in 1926. Later, the second Friday in February was adopted as the day on which the state would annually observe the event. This year, Mississippi Arbor Day was observed on Friday, February 10, 2017. In addition, Governor Phil Bryant proclaimed February 10-17, 2017 as Tree Planting Week in Mississippi.

The Arboretum’s plant sale will feature many hard-to-find native plants such as Grancy graybeard, mayhaw, southern crabapple, parsley hawthorne, Ashe’s bigleaf magnolia, pawpaw, and native honeysuckle azaleas. Arboretum staff and volunteers, and Pearl River County Master Gardeners will be on hand to help you select plants which are appropriate for your site conditions.

How can you learn the precise conditions a plant will prefer? First, seek to understand your planting site, and you will then be able to choose the plants that will perform best on your property.

Sketch a map of your property, and make notes. What is the sun exposure throughout the site, and how does it change throughout the day? Where are the areas of deep shade? Full sun? Study the various habitats – observe where soils are moist, and where they are dry. The slope of the land will affect the available soil moisture. Do you see water collecting in certain areas after a rain?

Your county Extension office offers soil testing, and the MSU Extension Service website contains informative publications to help choose plants, such as “Selecting Landscape Shrubs” and “Selecting Landscape Trees”, at The publications include extensive tables of trees and shrubs and include the pH range for each species. Check this against your soil test results to see if your site provides the necessary conditions.

“Native Trees for Mississippi Landscapes” and “Native Shrubs for Mississippi Landscapes” are also available on the Extension website.

Learn more about using native species in your landscape at the Arboretum, one of the best places to learn how you can be successful in your planting projects. Walk through our exhibits and note the site conditions where certain plants are thriving.

More information on upcoming activities and events can be found on the Arboretum’s website at<>.

A special program celebrating the life of Aldo Leopold will be held Saturday, February 25. Conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast, his book, A Sand County Almanac, is one of the most respected books about the environment ever published, and regarded by many as the most influential conservation thinker of the twentieth century.

Two programs will be led by MSU Extension Forestry Specialist Dr. Glenn Hughes and Coastal Ecology Specialist Dr. Eric Sparks. From 9:30 to Noon, readings will take place from the Sand County Almanac. Books are available for purchase for $6. Participation is encouraged, but not required. Weather permitting, outdoor activities may take place.

A documentary film on Aldo Leopold, “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time” will be shown from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. 

After the film, there will be a discussion from the perspective of “Aldo”. The afternoon program will include short, selected readings and a “very special guest.” The cost for each program is $5 for non-members.

The Arboretum is located in Picayune, off I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road and is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.