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Connecting with nature at the Arboretum

By Pat Drackett

Crosby Arboretum Director

Are you one of the fortunate who have discovered the joy in taking a stroll along the Arboretum’s three miles of pathways, along with the deep breath you experience on your journey? Over the past year, we are pleased that many local families and individuals have discovered our public garden and the respite it offers when they need to “get away from it all.”

If you have not paid us a visit yet, we invite you to do so. Perhaps bring along a canine friend or two. We are dog-friendly! Much pleasure is to be had by spending time in our little slice of nature.

Why are we humans compelled to vacation to places that offer attractive natural landscapes? Whether our chosen destination finds us hiking up scenic mountain slopes or basking in the sun at a beachside paradise, our goal is often to immerse ourselves in nature’s beauty, as many of us intuitively sense that this time will allow us to return to our daily lives refreshed and invigorated.

Some places we encounter in nature seem to have a timeless beauty. However, even landscapes that may be considered “young” are equally capable of compelling a visitor to derive pleasure by engaging with their unique blend of sights, sounds and scents.

For example, although the Crosby Arboretum’s 40 acre Woodland Exhibit has only been developing beyond its original pine savanna landscape for a few decades and can still be considered a “young” forest, many exhibit areas have already developed a distinctive character. A walk through our unique public garden will reveal numerous areas that are capable of evoking a person’s sense of wonder.

Perhaps you will be so moved when gazing over wide open spaces such as the Arboretum’s Savanna Exhibit. Another person might take delight in the newly unfurling autumn grasses that are undulating in the breeze, or by the sound of the wind in the tall pine trees. On a clear day, one might be stirred by observing the crisp reflection of trees in the mirror-like water of the Piney Woods Pond.

Although it may only be a decade old, our Gum Pond Educational Exhibit already possesses an arresting, magical presence. Many visitors, having stood on the overlook here at the edge of the shallow water, have described this area as a “secret garden” that is most definitely worth a 700 foot walk. Soon, there will be more features to appreciate in this educational exhibit. A new seventy-foot bridge is near completion, trail sections are being built that will complete the pond loop trail, and a small pavilion and new overlook lies across the pond from the bridge, a gift from the Rosen Family.

Since policies were put in place for social distancing in response to COVID-19, many of us have been spending more time outdoors, whether this means heading for parks or natural areas where people can experience nature, or simply walking out the door into one’s own back yard.

Garden center and plant sales have greatly increased over this spring and summer. Are you part of this trend? If so, you will be pleased to know that the Mississippi State University Extension website contains a wealth of information to guide you in designing your landscape and choosing plants best suited to your landscape. Visit http://extension.msstate.edu and enter “smart landscapes” in the search field to get started.

If you require native plants for your fall landscape projects, many outstanding native trees, shrubs and perennials remain from our Fall Plant Sale. A selection of these plants is available on our Visitor Center deck. If you are interested in woody plant species, please let someone know. We have trees such as Southern and sweetbay magnolias, bald and pond cypress, swamp tupelo and live oak, in our greenhouse area.

We’ve just released new programs for October and November. See our website event calendar at www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu for a listing. This Saturday, October 24, we will offer both a yoga class on the Pinecote Pavilion that will begin at 10 a.m., and a Forest Bathing Workshop that begins at 9:30 a.m. Learn about the origins and benefits of a practice which can strengthen one’s connection with nature. Originating in Japan, forest bathing has become known worldwide for improving health and well-being.

For more information, please call 601-799-2311. Sign up on our website to receive updates on The Crosby Arboretum’s activities and programs. We’re open Wednesday through Sunday and located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road. Exit gates are closed at 4:30 p.m. The business office is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.