Take a winter walk at the Arboretum

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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

Last Saturday’s field walk was rescheduled for this coming Saturday, January 18 due to rain. Come visit and learn about some great Mississippi native trees and shrubs to consider for planting in your home landscape!

Are you familiar with the native plants on your property that are valuable to local wildlife, and provide them with their breakfast, lunch, and dinner? While we often think of native shrubs and trees with berries as being a primary source of food for wildlife, tasty meals can also come in the form of insects that munch on leaves or other plant parts, and perhaps become a protein-rich meal for a nest of baby birds.

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Native trees at the Arboretum having a high food value to wildlife include mayhaw, parsley hawthorn, American holly, Southern magnolia, wax myrtle, Southern crabapple, black gum, longleaf pine, persimmon, and numerous species of oaks.

Native shrubs that support wildlife include American beautyberry, buttonbush, fringe tree (also called Grancy gray beard), “huckleberries” such as Elliott’s blueberry and dwarf blueberry and numerous species of holly and Viburnum.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service website (http://extension.msstate.edu/) offers has many state-specific publications and resources that will help you choose the appropriate trees and shrubs for your property’s environmental conditions.

Enter keywords such as “native trees” or “native shrubs” or “selecting shrubs” or “selecting trees” in the search field to locate research-based information you can trust.

More information on Mississippi native species can be found in Extension publications No.2334, “Native Shrubs for Mississippi Landscapes”, and No. 2330, “Native Trees for Mississippi Landscapes”, two of many informative resources written by former Arboretum curator, Bob Brzuszek. They are available for online viewing or as a PDF for download in the Publications section of the Extension website.

Many other excellent publications about landscaping with native plants are available from this website, for example, an information sheet that will guide you in the design of bird-friendly landscapes, “Attracting Birds to Mississippi Gardens”, which includes a list of native species with high wildlife value.

Extension publication 2402 on “Establishing a Backyard Wildlife Habitat” is one of my favorites. This is a lavishly illustrated 28-page handbook outlining the basic needs of wildlife, giving simple ways you can provide for them. For example, plant a diversity of “layers” in your yard – plants of all heights and forms – to offer wildlife a variety of habitats to live and breed in.

Select the native species you are interested in learning about from our Native Plant Data Base, linked from our homepage at www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu<http://www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu> to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.  This is the orange rectangle at the bottom right on our homepage.  Here you can view plant profiles and other useful links.

This Saturday’s botany field walk with Pat Drackett be 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. We’ll journey down the Swamp Forest Trail to learn about the trees and shrubs growing here. Cost is $5 for non-members free for Arboretum members.

The yoga class scheduled for this past Saturday on the Pinecote Pavilion has also been rescheduled for Saturday, January 18 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. Bring your yoga mat and a friend! Get fit while enjoying the natural beauty surrounding the Pinecote Pavilion. The cost is $2 for members and $5 for non-members.

Remember to visit our winter gallery exhibit, stunning nature photography by Nadine Phillips, on display through February 28. Mark your calendar for the Arboretum’s Forge Day Saturday, January 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. You’ll enjoy this annual event featuring blacksmithing and metalworking demonstrations. Entry fee is the price of site admission, $5 for adults and $2 for children, and free for members.

On Saturday, February 8, enjoy the winter botany walk with retired MSU Extension Forestry specialist Dr. Glenn Hughes. On his field walk, Dr. Hughes will point out the characteristics of trees that you will notice in the winter months, for example, patterns of tree bark or the shape of buds.

The Arboretum’s Arbor Day plant sale will be Saturday, February 15 from 10:00 a.m. to noon. It is still a great time to plant woody shrubs and trees, as they will still have a few months to establish their root systems.

Call now to reserve your place in programs by calling 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 9:00 to 4:30. For more information see our program calendar on our website at http://crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu/, where you may sign up for email notices of upcoming events. Remember, leashed pets are always welcome!