Creating memories of the time you spend in Nature

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 4, 2020

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

One of the most common ways to keep a record of the images that inspire us to capture them is with a photograph. So often at the Arboretum, our visitors will comment on the pictures they have taken with their phones or cameras on their walks through the grounds.

What an incredibly different time it is today from a hundred years ago. Despite our constant complaints about being so busy, we really do have much more leisure time today, and the chance to spend time outdoors exploring the beauty of the natural world.

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Our winter exhibit was called “Wonderstruck by Nature”, and featured photographs by Nadine Phillips. Her work was very well-received, as she has a knack for “capturing the moment” and generated many positive comments from visitors. Our spring exhibit will be drawings by Picayune artist Robin Veerkamp, who worked for over ten years at the Crosby Arboretum.

Robin works in colored pencils and chalk pastels, and specializes in drawing architecture, plants, animals and landscapes from original photography. She teaches nature sketching throughout the year at the Arboretum.

Robin’s exhibit opens at 2:00 p.m. this Saturday, March 7. Light refreshments will be served, and the event is free to the public. Prior to the opening, she will be leading a nature sketching program from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. The exhibit will be on display through May 31.

Learning to sketch in nature can be a very rewarding pastime, as it allows you to quickly enter an impression of what you are observing, maybe even to illustrate a text description. Although there are many books on sketching in nature, don’t miss the chance Saturday to spend an hour “in the field” with an expert!

Our first director Ed Blake filled numerous notebooks with his sketches and observations of the Crosby Arboretum during its early planning, and for many years afterward. His thoughts and drawings are valuable to us today and give us a window on the process of the Arboretum’s development.

A very popular book in the late 1970’s was a reproduction of a 1906 sketchbook, “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady”. The author, Edith Holden, also created a journal that was published around this time as “The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady”. Edith was an art teacher and an illustrator of children’s books who encouraged her students to record their observations of plant and animal life in the English countryside. These books are not just nature sketches but include poetry and notes of the observer.

When she created her notebooks, Edith had no idea of the popularity they would enjoy many years later. I can’t recommend them more highly as a gift if you have a nature-lover in your family or need an addition to your nature library.

Want to grow vegetables but think you lack the space? Many varieties can be grown in containers. Attend the “Vegetable Gardening in Containers” program Friday, March 6, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. with Dr. Eddie Smith, MSU Pearl River County Coordinator/Extension Agent. Free to Arboretum members and $5 for non-members.

On Saturday, March 7, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. attend a yoga class with certified yoga instructor James Sones on the Pinecote Pavilion, followed by short meditation sitting. Members free, non-members $5.

Robin’s “Introduction to Nature Sketching” program is Saturday, March 7, 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Members free, non-members $5. The opening event in the Visitor Center following her class, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., is free to all.

Sign up now for the “Painted Rocks and Fairy Doors” workshop Saturday, March 14 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Families will paint rocks to take home, and to hide at the Arboretum! They will also paint a special fairy door to leave on a special tree. See our website for details. Member adults/children, $4 materials fee, and non-members, fee is $9 for adults and $6 for children.

On Saturday, March 14 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., enjoy a spring botany field walk on the Arboretum grounds to learn about the history and cultural uses of native species, and how to use them in your landscape with Arboretum Director Pat Drackett. Members free; $5 for non-members.

Call now to sign up for 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, where you can sign up for email notices of upcoming events. Remember, your leashed pets are always welcome!