Celebrating memories at the Crosby Arboretum

Published 4:42 pm Saturday, July 3, 2021

By Patricia Drakett

Director of the Crosby Arboretum and

assistant extension professor of landscape architecture with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Much has been on my mind the past few weeks as the end of June came and went, the last day before the retirement of our building and grounds manager Terry Johnson. Terry has been with the Crosby Arboretum for well over two decades, and with his departure came a celebration that anyone would be proud to have experienced. Attendees numbered close to one hundred persons, gathered to acknowledge Terry‘s many accomplishments and his staunch dedication to this public garden.

Stem to stern, Terry has had a hand in building, repairing, or maintaining just about everything a visitor will encounter at the Arboretum.

From site signage and interpretive trail signs, bridges, boardwalks, and decks, and his meticulous maintenance of the Pinecote Pavilion, to managing the Savanna Exhibit through yearly prescribed fire events, Terry came to know every inch of the property and our nearby natural area known as Hillside Bog, also maintained by fire.

Did I mention Terry’s expert maintenance of our three-mile trail system, his ability to maintain a smooth grade and a perfect crown on the half-mile service road, or the copious amount of sweat he left behind in the concrete of our Longleaf Pine Walk, the south pitcher plant bog boardwalk, along with the Quaking Bog, Swamp Forest, and Gum Pond exhibits?

We’ve commented more than once that Terry chose the perfect moment to go out on a high note.

His last major accomplishment was leading a team of six Mississippi State University summer interns from the architecture and landscape architecture departments to complete the Gum Pond’s award-winning Mirror Perch Bridge that was designed by MSU Architecture Professor Hans Herrmann.

Over the past week, as Terry drew closer to his last day, while making lists and packing personal items and experiencing that inevitable range of emotions that will arise as one prepares to leave a place that has grown to be a second home, he still found the time to take an occasional visitor out for a cart tour of the Arboretum.  It was hard to discern if it was Terry or the tour recipient who was having more fun!

First director and landscape architect Edward L. Blake, Jr., designer of our Master Plan, would remark that at the Arboretum, “the land is the exhibit.”

On your future journeys through our unique garden, remember that indeed, the land is being allowed to “express itself”. These statements aptly describe the processes one will observe, and also one that Terry was proud to be part of for a time – a part of forest succession, and caretaking a dynamic, diverse, and entrancing savanna landscape.

When you check in at the Visitor Center, don’t miss our current gallery exhibit, paintings by artist Chatham Kemp, who will be leading a children’s art workshop in July. Sign up for the Plant Propagation Workshop with Dr. Eddie Smith, our Pearl River County Extension Agent, Friday, July 16, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon.  This program includes a presentation on basic propagation methods, and hands-on activities will follow in the greenhouse.

Teachers and homeschool educators, call the Crosby Arboretum office now at (601) 799-2311 to sign up for our upcoming teacher workshops! A Project Learning Tree PreK-8 workshop will be held Saturday, July 17, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. One of the oldest and most successful environmental education programs, PLT offers interdisciplinary, fun, hands-on lesson plans based on sound science and correlated to state standards. Thanks to support from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, the workshop includes a free 50-lesson-plan, “Explore Your Environment” and “Green Jobs” guide.  Bring a brown bag lunch. 0.5 CEUs are available for $10.

A hands-on interdisciplinary Project Wild workshop, “Wild About Pollinators”, takes place Thursday, July 22 from  9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Project WILD is one of the most widely used conservation and environmental education programs by K-12 educators. Mississippi Museum of Natural Science Outreach Educator Sabrina Cummings will lead this workshop for teachers, homeschool educators, and others who serve in a teaching role, using topics that focus on the importance of pollinators such as bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and other wildlife to show how to teach subjects across the curriculum. Please bring a brown bag lunch.  The workshop cost of $25 includes a workbook. 0.5 CEU’s are available for $10.

Mark your calendar for the “All About Hummingbirds” program with long-time hummingbird bander James Bell on Saturday, August 14 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.  Reservations are required for most of our programs. Call 601-799-2311 to sign up and pay when you arrive. For more information see www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu<http://www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu>. The Crosby Arboretum is located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road.