Arboretum Paths: Go outside and enjoy nature

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2018

By Patricia Drackett

Director and Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture
The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University Extension Service

We’ve been fortunate to be experiencing some unusually cool days in recent weeks, which has made spending time outdoors very enjoyable. Now as we approach the summer months, take advantage of this remaining time to get outside to explore the natural world before warm weather sets in.

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Last week, students from Pass Christian Elementary School visited the Arboretum for a field trip. They had great fun trekking the grounds and observing birds and other wildlife, and the late spring wildflowers and pitcher plants in the South Bog of our Savanna Exhibit. They also had fun experiencing the floating bridge in the Quaking Bog Educational Exhibit.

Why not bring your family to the Crosby Arboretum this week to see the wildflowers on display? You can even bring along your leashed dog – they are welcome to join you on our three miles of walking trails!

This Saturday we are holding two great programs to entice you to get outside. Your child can participate in the Mother’s Day paint-a-pot workshop on Saturday morning, and there is also a gentle yoga class that afternoon.

At last Saturday’s program featuring Smart Landscapes, tips on designing your home landscape to be as low-maintenance as possible were discussed. For example, the majority of species seen in our exhibits are well-suited to our wet pine savanna, and the Arboretum is a great site to learn what plants you could choose if you also have wet, problematic areas on your property, such as black gum, red maple, swamp chestnut oak, or sweetbay magnolia.

For more information on this great new MSU Extension program called Smart Landscapes, visit for some great tips and ideas for designing and managing sustainable, low-care landscapes.

Although spring flowers are beginning to fade, the durable blooms that will withstand summer’s heat are beginning to appear. Many of these plants grow in the pitcher plant bogs which are located in the Savanna Exhibit, and contain unusual plants, such as club moss, bog orchids, and carnivorous sundew plants, which thrive in these areas.

Along the edge of the Gum Pond, and in the Quaking Bog exhibit, we spotted the tiny yellow blooms of bladderwort. The blooms of bladderwort are mixed with the coin-sized rosettes of sundews that are covered with drops of glistening ruby “dew”. Threadlike flower stalks will soon explode from the centers of the sundews, topped with enormous white flowers that will tower over the diminutive plants.

Brushy antlers of bright green club moss (Lycopodium) can be seen popping up among the other bog species. The spores of this fern ally have been used in fireworks and for flash powder in early photography, and are used to create the characteristic “flash” of stage magicians. Search the Web to see examples of how Lycopodium powder is still used today in theater performances and science demonstrations, and read about its historical uses in medicine.

Longleaf milkweed (Asclepias longifolia) grows here as well. Its attractive purple blooms are not easy to distinguish among the other plants. Such is the hidden beauty of the bog – you might just walk right by this incredible world if you didn’t look closely, and stop and explore its subtle curiosities.

A major show that will be hard to miss is preparing to make a debut in the Savanna Exhibit – the emergence of the pink meadow beauties (Rhexia). Right now, the plant is sending up stems covered in clasping leaves, and soon the entire Pitcher Plant Bog will be covered in a rosy glow.

Enjoy our “Painted Pots for Mother’s Day” kids’ craft workshop Saturday, May 12, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Children will enjoy decorating and planting a terra-cotta clay pot, a perfect Mother’s Day Gift for moms who love plants! Kids must be accompanied by parent or guardian. Members’ children $5; non-members’ children $7. (No charge for adults).

On Saturday, May 12, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m., join certified yoga instructor James Sones in the beautiful natural setting of Pinecote Pavilion for a gentle yoga class and short meditation sitting. Class size limited is to 16. Yoga mats provided, or bring your own. Arrive at least 10 minutes early. The program is free to members and $5 for non-members. Reservations are required for our programs to prevent overcrowding. Call 601-799-2311 to sign up to reserve your seat.

Bring the children in your life to our Pinecote Nature Discovery Day on Thursday, May 17th at The Crosby Arboretum. Hands-on booths will feature outdoor activities by educators from several regional environmental centers and agencies. The headliner will be “The Snake Man” Mr. Terry Vandeventer. Admission is $2 per child. Free to the adults, teachers, and chaperones accompanying children. Pre-registration is required, no walk-ins. Please call 601-799-2311 to pre-register. Hope to see you there!

For more information on visiting, call 601-799-2311. The Crosby Arboretum is located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. For more information, see