Fall planting season is approaching!

Published 2:30 pm Sunday, October 17, 2021

By Patricia Drackett

Director of the Crosby Arboretum and

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

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Although this time of year may find you more focused on preparing for the upcoming holidays, you may wish to consider harnessing the energy of your soon-to-be visiting relatives to help you dig a few holes for some new plant additions to your landscape during these fall and winter months.

Not only are the approaching cooler temperatures a more comfortable time for laboring outdoors, but a bonus is that if you install new trees and shrubs in the fall or winter, they will have a long period of time to become established before hot weather returns. Once daily temperatures cool down, plants will need much less water, particularly if they are deciduous species that lose their leaves during the winter and therefore will not need to support a crown of green leaves.

Increasingly, media articles seem to be pointing out the benefits of planting woody plants – shrubs and trees – in the fall and winter months. This “dormant season” begins when the leaves of deciduous plant species begin tumbling to the ground, until spring’s warmer days coax out new buds, leaves, and blooms. Take advantage of this time by paying a visit to the Crosby Arboretum to check out our plants for sale on our deck at the Visitor Center or attending our big Fall Native Plant Sale on October 22 and 23.

Here in coastal Mississippi, we don’t need to endure thick blankets of winter snow for long periods of time like those who reside in colder climates. Instead, our winter days can easily be in the 50’s.

Consider adding some new plants to your landscape over the coming dormant season, and then rest assured that they will have a long time to slowly develop a root system that allows them to become a much stronger and well-established plant by spring.

Consider also planting fall-blooming perennial plants in your garden. Over the past few months, the Arboretum’s Green Team volunteers, which consists of many Pearl River County Master Gardeners, have been hard at work growing some top-performing, low-maintenance native perennials such as Porter weed, scarlet sage, and Texas star hibiscus. These tough-as-nails perennials will attract pollinators, hummingbirds, and butterflies to your garden.

Grancy greybeard, an old-time garden favorite, also known as “fringe tree” will be available at the fall sale. This plant prefers a moist, well-drained soil, but will tolerate drier conditions. Fringe tree has unusual, airy, white fringed flowers that light up a spring garden, and a sweet but not overpowering fragrance. Use this plant in the wildlife garden or as a specimen tree. Many popular shrubs will also be available, including winterberry holly, red starbush, mountain laurel, American holly, and dwarf blueberry.

The Mississippi State University Extension website contains a wealth of information to guide you in designing your landscape and choosing plants that are suited to your home landscape. Visit http://extension.msstate.edu and enter “home landscape design”, or “smart landscapes” to get started. More information on Mississippi’s native species can be found in Extension publications No.2334, “Native Shrubs for Mississippi Landscapes”, and No. 2330, “Native Trees for Mississippi Landscapes”.

Enjoy free admission to our Music Under the Pines Open Mic Night, Saturday, October 16 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the lovely outdoor setting of the Pinecote Pavilion. Call 601-799-2311 to reserve your 15-minute time slot or to join the audience and sit back for an evening featuring budding local musicians.

Sign up for the “Wire-Wrapped Jewelry Workshop: Making a Pendant”, on Saturday October 30, from 9:30 to 12:30, with jewelry maker Connie Boyd of Unique Stones and create a beautiful handmade pendant, with a semi-precious finished polished stone and Sterling Silver. Cost of $70 includes chain, tools for use, silver wire, and stone, paid to the instructor on the day of the workshop (cash or check).

A yoga class with certified teacher Kate Sones will be held on the Pinecote Pavilion on Saturday, October 30 at 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., and a program on wild plant foraging with Myles Ray, “Foraging in South Mississippi” with Myles Ray will take place on Saturday, November 6 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Several guided Forest Therapy sessions will take place this year, with the next to be Saturday, November 6, from 9:30 a.m. to noon with Nadine Phillips, INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guide in training.

The Crosby Arboretum’s Fall Native Plant Sale will be Friday and Saturday, October 22 and 23 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Call the office at 601-799-2311 to sign up for programs. The Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road, at Exit 4, Picayune, and open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information see  www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu<http://www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu>.