The Crosby Arboretum’s plant exhibits are ever-changing

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Last week I had a chance to take a tour through the Crosby Arboretum’s Savanna Exhibit with Pearl River County Master Gardener Amy Nichols. We visited both the north and south pitcher plant bogs. Specifically, we were on a search for some very elusive pine lilies, which Terry Johnson had spotted earlier in the week.

Typically, we will have noticed more of this striking lily by this time of year. Pine lilies are not easy to spot, as they usually grow as one individual plant, nestled down within the grasses and perennials that make up the Arboretum’s wet pine savanna landscape.

There is a continual and exquisite movement within the savanna’s sea of blooms. Bees, butterflies and other pollinators drift among a variety of flowering perennials.  I’m really looking forward to the late fall show of swamp sunflower, asters, and the fluffy plumes of grasses. But for now, the current show is not to be missed!

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Although we never did find the most recent pine lily, we did encounter a range of other blooming perennials signaling that autumn is on its way.

Are you a fan of nature photography? If so, this is a great season to visit the Arboretum to find many photo opportunities of pollinating insects flitting among the flowers.

The large patches of Liatris, called blazing star or gayfeather, are particularly stunning. This perennial has purple flowers arranged on long spikes. Many persons who claim they have no knowledge of native wildflowers will recognize this plant as it’s commonly used in floral arrangements.

Hundreds of these tall purple spires are mixed with yellow blooms of Balduina, and white polka-dots of ladies’ hatpins.

By participating in the many ways the land evolves at the Arboretum throughout the year, and by continuing to return, visitors become connected to a roller coaster of seasonal change, and ultimately to the heart of the land itself.

The Arboretum is one large canvas, with a picture that is constantly changing as the plant communities change over time, responding to seasonal changes in rainfall and temperature.

The Water Cowbane in our South Pitcher Plant Bog has greatly increased in numbers over the past few years. This perennial, a host for swallowtail butterflies, is in the carrot family and resembles Queen Anne’s Lace but grows much taller.

Come pick out some new native plants for your fall planting projects! We still have perennials, shrubs, and trees left from our sale this past weekend. These are now located on our deck outside the Visitor Center. Those purchasing plants can use our Service Entrance to load their vehicles.

A list of available plants includes Liatris, Pink Muhly Grass, Scarlet Sage, Elderberry, Coreopsis, and Stokes Aster. Trees include Tulip Poplar, Swamp Red Maple, Sweet Bay, Red Bay, and Black Cherry.

Although we are currently sold out of Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), we plan to carry this monarch host plant again soon, to meet the current demand. This species of milkweed is an excellent substitute for the invasive tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, which is most commonly available. At the plant sale last weekend, we were pleased to hear so many reports about this species performing well from people who had purchased Swamp Milkweed at the Arboretum the previous year.

Currently, our memberships are half price. One of the many benefits of an Arboretum membership is the opportunity to visit over 300 U.S. public gardens for free or reduced admission through the American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program.

A summer native plant field walk will be held Saturday, August 25, from 9:00 to 10:00 AM, and a hummingbird program will be held September 1. Learn all about these beautiful birds and how to attract them to your garden! Two time periods are being offered, at 9:30 and 11:00 AM, and are quickly filling. Call 601-799-2311 to sign up and guarantee your place.

Our fall schedule will be posted on our website this week. Stay tuned for the many children’s workshops and family-friendly events to be offered, to be highlighted in upcoming columns.

Our big Fall Native Woody Plant Sale is October 5-6 (Friday and Saturday). Saturday activities will include a floral design workshop with horticulture professor Dr. James Delprince.

For more information on our activities and visiting the Crosby Arboretum, see our Facebook page or website ( We’re located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59).