What do you know about the Crosby Arboretum?

Published 3:55 pm Monday, January 10, 2022

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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Recently, I received a question I’ve heard many times before, when I told someone I worked at Crosby Arboretum they asked, “What do y’all do over there?”  I launched into my usual elevator speech about how we are a 64-acre public garden owned by Mississippi State University and operated by the Extension Service, with three miles of trails, and feature an architectural structure designated a Mississippi Landmark, designed by E. Fay Jones, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. If you’ve never heard of these two renown architects, just belly up to your computer and look for images of the structures designed by them.

Crosby Arboretum is also known for being a recreational site and is a great destination to bring out-of-town guests no matter the season.  We hold 5K trail runs, open mic nights, cultural and heritage events, wildlife days, and plant sales. We’re also an educational facility, offering a continual jam-packed calendar of programs and events dedicated to educating the public about the natural world, such as native plant species, home gardening and landscape design methods, wildlife, pollinators, and coastal ecosystems, in addition to art workshops and regular art exhibits in our small gallery.

At the end of 2021, the Arboretum had over 400 members, and renewals for 2022 are steadily on the rise.  Crosby Arboretum members also enjoy a membership in the American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program, which allows free or reduced entry to well over 300 other U.S. public gardens.  Brochures in our Visitor Center provide information on many of these gardens.

One thing that is heartening is the increasing number of persons, when asked if they have visited before, respond that they did so many years ago on a school field trip.  I’ve wondered if some of the images that are rotating on our flatscreen in the Visitor Center, which contain many pictures of students on field days in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, just might be these same folks, all grown up and on a return visit with a friend in tow.  Some profess a deep passion for plants and nature, and their enthusiasm keeps me going on days that are full of tedious tasks.  I hope these young visitors’ journeys along our trails are just as rewarding as days spent here long ago, which have apparently inspired their return visit.

Perhaps you spent a lot of time outdoors as a child, delighting in the arrival of each season and the new sights for you to discover each day?  On a walk through the Arboretum, you can reawaken that joy of previous times spent exploring outside. Please pay us a visit soon to explore our grounds this winter. January and February will offer some outstanding activities!

You’ll have two opportunities in January for a relaxing Forest Therapy walk with Nadine Phillips, certified Forest Therapy Guide in training with the International Nature and Forest Therapy Alliance (INFTA).  Deeply rooted in the Japanese concept of Shinrin-yoku, or “forest-air bathing”, Forest Therapy is an evidence-based public health practice considered to be a natural remedy to reduce stress and provide a pathway to a happier, healthier, and more rewarding life. Walks are Sunday, January 16, and Sunday, January 30, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.  Attendance is limited. Please call 601-799-2311 to sign up.

Attend an art workshop on January 15, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon with Hattiesburg artist Traci Stover, our upcoming featured gallery exhibit. You’ll work loosely with a grid as a visual art tool to interpret photographs into your own artwork. All supplies and a gridded image will be provided for participants to demonstrate this technique. Members $15; non-members $20. Limited space. Registration required.

Children will learn about Mississippi’s venomous snakes on Sunday, January 23, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. with Pearl River County Extension Agent Dr. Eddie Smith. Lifelike snake replicas will be used in the program. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Registration required. Program free for members; non-members’ children $3; non-member adults $5.

Our annual Forge Day is Saturday, January 29 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., a day of blacksmithing and metalworking activities. Some metalworkers allow you to try your hand at the forge (waiver form required). If you would like to guarantee your place, just call the office to sign up. Mark your calendar for our Arbor Day Plant Sale Saturday, February 12 from 10:00 a.m. to Noon.

For more information see our website at.www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu<http://www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu>.  For questions, call our office at 601-799-2311. We open at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday and entrance gates close at 4:00 p.m. and are located in Picayune, off I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road. Leashed pets are always welcome!