Winter art gallery opening

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2017

By Patricia R. Drackett, Director and Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture
The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University Extension Service

The public is invited to the Arboretum’s winter gallery opening this Saturday, December 9 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., which will feature work by members of the Pearl River County Arts League. Admission to the opening event is free, light refreshments will be served, and the exhibit runs through February 28. If you have never visited our public garden, or if it has been a long while since you did, bring a friend and come check us out!

We’re very excited about this chance to showcase the talented artists in the Pearl River County Art League. The Art League is a group of creative and enthusiastic people who work in a variety of media, and the show this Saturday will be the 2017 Artists of the Year.

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At each monthly meeting, the group selects an “Artist of the Month” in the categories of Traditional Hanging Art, Photography, and 3-Dimensional Art. The members vote on each of the categories and award points for first, second and third place in each category. At the end of the year, the “Artist of the Year” is announced in each of the three categories, based on the total of points accrued during the year. So, this show will present the work of these three persons.

It’s been great fun to look through all of the photos of art being submitted by Art League members. There are many styles, and a flatscreen in the Visitor Center will present a slide show of a variety of work including pottery, photography, and painting.

If you enjoy creating art, where do you find inspiration? Currently the Arboretum abounds with early winter color, texture, and patterns which offer many awesome subjects to spark your desire to capture what you experience. The fall color has been extraordinary, certainly giving me some great photo opportunities.

If you’d like to see a striking tree that is often overlooked, come see our witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) tree blooming right outside the visitor center. It’s thin, creamy colored strap-like leaves are downright gorgeous. This native plant is related to the purple Loropetalum shrub that many home landscapers will be familiar with, which is also known as “Chinese witch hazel”.

Another one of my favorites for fall color is the swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii). A handsome specimen is growing near the Arboretum’s Pollinator Garden (recently designated a Monarch Waystation, thanks to the Pearl River County Master Gardeners!). The tree has huge, scalloped leaves which are now a striking maroon, along with attractive, shaggy bark.

The feathery bald cypress trees lining the Piney Woods Pond have turned a rusty hue, and scarlet sumac leaves, jewel-toned black gum, and ruby-red Elliot’s blueberry will catch your eye in the landscape. I recently captured an eyecatching photo of flame-red blackberry leaves. Throughout the site you will see various jewel tones of star-shaped sweetgum leaves, and red maple leaves.

The exfoliating bark on our small tree-form Vaccinium arboreum trees is particularly attractive now. These multi-trunked trees are called farkleberry or sparkleberry, Along with the Elliot’s blueberry (Vaccinium elliotti), they are turning burgundy and scarlet. What stunning fall color these plants have!

Now that the leaves are falling and the structure of the trees is more evident, details stand out that you would not have noticed otherwise, such as the pointed buds of American beech (Fagus grandiflora) that look like tiny, pointed cigars. The plump buds on our native pink honeysuckle azaleas (Rhododendron canescens) promise spring blooms, delighting swallowtail butterflies with their sweet fragrance, as well as those strolling nearby.

Pay us a visit this weekend and view the Art League’s gallery opening, and on the way down our Arrival Journey pathway, you just might be treated to the appealing fragrance of wet leaves during your stroll.

A Children’s Christmas card workshop will be held on December 9 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., led by members of the Pearl River County Arts League and Arboretum volunteers. Materials fee is $3 for members’ children and $5 for non-members’ children. Space is limited and reservations are requested. Please call 601-799-2311 to sign up. Mark your calendar for our Forge Day event, which will be held on the last Saturday in January.

The Arboretum is located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 AM to 5 PM. For more information, see our schedule of events on our website at