Opportunities for late spring gardening projects

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 8, 2019

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

What are your plans for your garden or landscape this month? Fortunately, you still have some time for late spring gardening projects before sultry summer days descend upon us. Remember to locate your plants where you will be able to enjoy the view from inside your house.

Last week, I had an enjoyable opportunity to visit the property of long-time Arboretum supporter Allan Anderson, who had been doing his best to entice our herd of cats for a spring tour. A group of Arboretum volunteers and Pearl River County Master Gardeners hoped to plan a visit coinciding with the blooming of Allan’s extensive native Iris beds. Although this turned out to not be the best year for iris blooms, our group was suitably impressed with how Allan had combined cultivated beds of low-maintenance perennials near the house that blended with adjacent natural areas where native species were “running wild.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Stokes’ aster has certainly found a home on Allan’s land, and carpets the ground in some areas. It was such a delight to see plants like native Rhododendron, honeysuckle azaleas, bald cypress, sassafras, and Ashe’s bigleaf magnolia thriving in their natural habitat.

Our walk around his pond was a lovely experience. Bald cypress grow along the perimeter of Allan’s pond, giving it that beautifully classic Deep South appearance. But he revealed that only a few of the bald cypress had been planted in the mid-1980’s. The rest had grown from the seeds produced by the original trees.

Gardens like Allan’s make for such wonderful strolls. Those who are fortunate enough to have large properties have wonderful opportunities to really “spread out,” with plenty of elbow room for planting large canopy trees and using larger shrubs and perennials that will ramble.

If you have a smaller property, you can still use native species with an informal, relaxed appearance. Hopefully, they will inspire you to adopt the same behavior. Try black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Gaura, blanket flower (Gaillardia), purple coneflower (Echinacea), Coreopsis, Liatris, or the previously mentioned high-performing native perennial, Stokes’ aster.

To learn more about how to design informal gardens, visit the Mississippi State Extension Service website (http://extension.msstate.edu/) and enter the keywords “naturalistic landscapes” in the search engine to read or download an informative article by former Arboretum site director Bob Brzuszek. If you’re interested in the subject, Bob’s guidelines will provide you with a solid overview of developing your own property to be attractive, biodiverse, a reflection of this region, and best of all, to be low-maintenance.

Take advantage of some great upcoming opportunities to learn more about creating low-maintenance landscapes. In “Landscaping with Wildflowers,” on Saturday, May 11 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. You will learn how to plan and establish these low-maintenance native species, suited to your site’s specific conditions, with Pearl River County Extension Agent, Dr. Eddie Smith. Cost is $3 for members and $5 for non-members. Immediately following this program, Dr. Smith will present “Square Foot Gardening” from 11:00 a.m. to noon. Would you like to grow your own vegetables, but don’t think you have the space, time, or energy?  Learn just how easy and fun this method of gardening can be. Program is $3 for members and $5 for non-members.

In the afternoon of Saturday, May 11, enjoy “Yoga on the Pinecote Pavilion” from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. with certified yoga instructor James Sones for a gentle yoga class and short meditation sitting. Yoga mats will be provided, or bring your own.  Please arrive 10 minutes early. Members free, non-members $5.

That evening, attend our open mic event from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the Pinecote Pavilion. Enjoy coffee and tea, some yummy baked goods, and great local music with your friends and family. The time slots are filled, but we have plenty of bench seating left. If possible, please call the Crosby Arboretum to let us know you are coming.

On Saturday, May 18 at 10:00 a.m., attend “Introduction to Birds and Birding” with James Bell, Suited to ages 8 and up. Members $3, members’ children $1; non-member adults $5, children $2.

Then, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., photographer Diana Thornton will show you how to get stunning images with your phone’s camera in a Smart Phone Photography Workshop. Ages 12 and up. Members $5, non-members $10. Limited to 12 persons.

Please call 601-799-2311 to sign up for programs. The Crosby Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4, and open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 to 4:00.

Leashed pets are welcome.