Strawberries and Cream Festival in this Sunday

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 3, 2019

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 attend the Crosby Arboretum’s Strawberries & Cream Festival on Sunday, April 7, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Perhaps you have always wondered what goes on here at the Arboretum. Take advantage of this free public event! Bring your friends and family out for an afternoon stroll through the grounds to see our plant exhibits in spring bloom.

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The festival celebrates the history of the site’s former use as a Depression-era strawberry farm. On March 1, 1932, the first carload of strawberries was shipped out of Picayune, and the strawberry farm continued for several years. The Arboretum’s interpretive site on Ridge Road, which measures 64 acres and has three miles of dog-friendly walking trails, was part of a square mile (640 acres) of strawberry fields that stretched westward, long before the construction of Interstate 59.

Although strawberries were once grown on this site, in the early years of the planning and development of the Arboretum, Ed Blake, Jr., the Arboretum’s first director and developer of the site’s master plan, at times commented on how difficult it must have been to grow strawberries in the wet pine savanna landscape.

At the Strawberries & Cream festival, you will enjoy listening to string music and having ice cream, fresh strawberries, and lemonade in the beautiful natural setting of the Pinecote Pavilion. On a walk around the Piney Woods Pond, you can view the Pavilion from several angles, each an interesting and completely different aspect. On your journey, you will see many plants in flower. Our south bog is currently carpeted with the unusual yellow blooms of pitcher plants (Sarracenia alata), and native iris (Iris virginica) and honeysuckle azalea (Rhododendron canescens and Rhododedron austrinum) are also putting on a show.

If you journey down the side path from the Pavilion and walk about three-quarters of the way around the Piney Woods Pond, you will arrive on a large wooden deck. This area is known as Cypress Cove.

From the deck, walk eastward into the Pitcher Plant Bog. Enjoy it while you can in this cooler weather, because in a few months the area will be hot and steamy, perfect for the Mississippi wildflowers that prefer these bog habitats. Walk out onto the boardwalk that is already starting to come alive with young dragonflies looking for a mosquito meal. Butterflies can already be seen flitting about and on their search for nectar.

The Arboretum’s mission is to protect, preserve, and display plants that are native to the Pearl River Drainage Basin. Programs and events provide opportunities for educating the public about their environment.

Teachers! Your students can celebrate Earth Day a little early this year by participating in The Crosby Arboretum’s annual Nature Discovery Day on Thursday, April 11, 2019 from 9 AM till 1 PM. This outdoor event uses environmentally-themed hands-on exhibits designed to educate area PreK-12 students and home school families about native plant and wildlife species, their conservation, and the habitats in which they live.

Nature Discovery Day will feature two great presentations this year. See the Arboretum’s Facebook page for a full description of the event, which includes a Raptors of the Region presentation by Sally Farrell of the Wind in My Feathers rehabilitation organization featuring live birds of prey native to our region, and the The Environmental and Education Outreach Mobile Classroom, the 2018 Gulf Guardian Award Winner for Youth Education, presented by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and Bayou Town Productions, a theatrical presentation about water quality and watersheds. Pre-registration is required. Entry fee is $2 per child, but teachers, parents and chaperones are free.

A program on Foraging in South Mississippi will be held Saturday, April 13, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon with foraging teacher Myles Ray, who will cover the edible and medicinal uses of some of South Mississippi’s rich plant life, and the skills for foraging or survival. Members $3; non-members $5. A children’s Easter Party will be held that same afternoon, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Children will enjoy games, door prizes, snacks, goodie bags, and a craft activity. There is no minimum age, as children must be accompanied by an adult. Members’ children $4; non-members’ children $6; no charge for adults. Reservations are requested for programs. To sign up call 601-799-2311. The Crosby Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4, and open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 to 4. Leashed pets are welcome.