Come explore the Arboretum’s botanical riches!

Published 10:01 am Tuesday, May 3, 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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We often receive feedback on the garden topics that are covered in this column. It’s a delight to know that we are able to reach so many of you fellow gardeners in the community and that you will discover one thing or another that has made your life, and your gardening, just a little easier, or as former site director Bob Brzuszek has been known to say, “give you a little more time spent spend looking at your garden rather than laboring in it”.

In keeping with that theme, I’ll take the opportunity to encourage anyone who is still wondering what the Crosby Arboretum is all about to just come on over and pay us a visit, to see how what you may learn here could change your life!  On May 7 you can even visit for free from 6 to 9 PM during our Open Mic Night event. Although all of the 15-minute time slots for musicians have filled, there’s always a possibility of a cancellation if you’d like to join the waiting list. This will be a rare opportunity to see the Pinecote Pavilion lit up and absolutely stunning at night. Join us for coffee and tea and a taste of home baked goods while you listen to local musical talent.

Spring has turned into a glorious roller coaster ride of color on the grounds, and while you stroll to the open mic, you’ll see some lovely sights such as the towering pink mountain laurel shrubs on the Arrival Journey bridge, and an array of native Iris in the Aquatic Exhibit.

We are open 9 AM to 4:30 PM Wednesday through Sunday. Return and enjoy a longer stroll along our three-mile trail system that passes through 40 acres of woodlands and 20 acres of grasslands called savannas. Various coastal ecosystem exhibits are located along the trails, such as the Gum Pond in the north end of the site which features the Mirror Perch Bridge and the Rosen Pavilion.

The Arboretum is dog-friendly, so both you and your canine friends can enjoy a walk along the pathways. Opportunities for watering your four-legged friends include a double fountain near the entrance to Pinecote Pavilion or a drinking bowl near our program room on the deck.

During your visit, you can check out the ongoing renovation of the Arboretum’s Pollinator Garden, a destination on the site map located to the west of the Visitor Center. Here, you can see several newly constructed arbor structures and numerous new plants that were recently installed into the garden. During the next month or so we’ll be installing permanent educational signage in the garden to help visitors identify the plants. Just snap a photo and add it to your idea book! You may even find these plants for sale on the Visitor Center deck.

Recently, just about every available milkweed leaf in our pollinator garden was devoured by hungry monarch caterpillars, and we expect to be seeing butterflies fluttering around the Arboretum very soon. Stay tuned for our pollinator sale on Saturday, June 4. Here, you will find milkweed and other plants that provide host material for caterpillars, the larval stage of butterflies and moths, or produce abundant nectar for pollinators.

Botanical illustrations by Penny Wallace Crawford are on display in the Arboretum gallery through Sunday, May 15. Drawing, and an interest in nature, have always been a part of Penny’s life. Her techniques include watercolor, pastels, acrylic, charcoal, and pen and ink and her botanical paintings of plant materials are drawn from live specimens in pencil, then pen and ink, and then in vibrant watercolor. Penny’s training as a Master Flower Show Judge influences her arranging and staging of plant material and is an important factor in her botanical paintings.

Sign up for “Designing Pollinator Gardens” with Pat Drackett on Saturday, May 7 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Learn about the value of pollinators and how you can create gardens to attract and sustain them. Members free; $5 for non-members. On May 7 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m., a “Wild Foraging Field Walk” will be held with Betty Sue O’Brian, Traditional Naturopath, Iridologist, and Herbalist, and Lynda O’Brian Baker, Herbalist and Chemist, who have been studying and using local plants for more than 25 years. Cost is $3 for members and $7 for non-members.  On the evening of May 7, attend the FREE Open Mic Night on the Pavilion from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Call to reserve your place in the audience and enjoy this evening featuring local musicians.

A children’s program on “Seven Common Mississippi Trees” will be held Saturday, May 14 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. with Jennifer Buchanan. That afternoon, a yoga program with James Sones will be held from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Registration is required for all programs. Call 601-799-2311 to reserve your space. For more information, see the calendar at or the Arboretum Facebook page. Crosby Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4.