Creating low-maintenance summer landscapes: Make your gardening a breeze!

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, June 29, 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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Sweltering summer temperatures over the past week may have inspired many to head indoors for air conditioning but our Visitor Center doors have continued to swing open, bringing both local visitors looking for some summer fun, and travelers who pause on their interstate journey after spotting our signs.

Some visitors come seeking facts about a particular plant. Others call us with requests. Whether they are asking about a St. John’s wort (Hypericum) or pawpaw trees (Asimina trilobata), we do our best to leave them with more information than they had before speaking with us.

If you feel like reading more about our local plants, the Crosby Arboretum website contains a link to our Plant Data Base. Just scroll down to the bottom of the home page and select the orange rectangle on the bottom right. Here, you can scroll through hundreds of photos of plants found at the Arboretum and search for information on other native plants you may have encountered in your own back yard.  Also on our homepage, you can view a 10-minute video that will give you a good overview of what goes on here.

Do you get tired of keeping up with watering your garden in the summer?  Consider that there is definitely one type of plant not bothered at all by hot temperatures, that flourishes in the summer heat: Aquatic species! They don’t require continual watering because they are “standing” in it!

On a walk around the Arboretum’s Aquatic Exhibit, you will see plants growing in a range of water depths and habitats.  Some grow in only a few inches of water, while others can grow in much deeper areas.

If you’d like to try gardening with aquatic plants, visit the Mississippi State Extension Service website at and enter the keywords “water gardening” to read a variety of articles that can help you conquer watering issues in your landscape, such as using species that like it wet.

Cypress trees will tolerate wet sites, and most of us recognize a bald cypress or pond cypress tree.  Both are fast-growing, beautiful trees with delicate leaves and a conical form, that make a nice addition to the landscape, particularly when arranged in groups. In addition, they are highly  resistant to wind.

If you have an area in your yard that tends to hold water, consider planting cypress trees with an underplanting of water-loving perennials such as Iris, American Crinum Lily, and Texas Star Hibiscus. Water tupelo can also be seen in our exhibits, along with Black Gum.  Several thousand of these young trees were installed nearly a decade ago in our Gum Pond.

In our current deck sale, we have some Texas star hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus). This is a native perennial that can grow to six feet.  Also called swamp hibiscus, or scarlet rose mallow, the plant is usually seen with scarlet flowers.  However, we are carrying the harder-to-find white form called ‘Alba’. Although the plant usually dies to the ground in winter, it quickly returns in spring. Locate one, or several, in the rear of your bed, where it will be a stunning specimen and you won’t notice when it dies back.

Sign up for our (indoors and air-conditioned!) Smart Landscapes program on “Designing a Pollinator Garden” on Saturday, July 9 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. and learn about how you can create gardens to attract and sustain pollinators. These low-care landscapes can come alive with movement, save you time and money, work with your property’s ecological processes, and contribute to the local biodiversity. Spend more time appreciating your garden, and not laboring in it, with Arboretum Director Pat Drackett. Members are free; only $5 for non-members.

Want to know more about local bird life? Sign up for the “Introduction to Birding” walk with birding enthusiast Jessica Martin that will take place on Saturday, July 16 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.  Learn tips and resources, along with equipment available for beginners and others, in addition to the common species of birds found in the area. Cost is $2 for Arboretum members and $7 for non-members.

Attend the Wire-Wrapped Jewelry Workshop on Making a Pendant, a repeat of the popular workshop with jewelry maker Connie Boyd of Unique Stones on Saturday, July 16, from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  You will learn the steps to making a beautiful handmade pendant wrapped in Sterling Silver. The program cost is $70 includes a chain, tools for use, silver wire, and your choice of a semi-precious stone paid directly to the instructor on the day of the workshop by cash or check. More precious stones such as turquoise or authentic Fordite will be available for a little more if desired. Limited to 8 persons.

Please call ahead at 601-799-2311 to sign up for programs and reserve your spot (pay upon arrival). The Arboretum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. To receive regular notices of upcoming activities, sign up under “Events Updates” on our website at See our website calendar or visit our Facebook page. The Crosby Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4. We are dog-friendly, and have a watering station on our deck and at the double fountain near the Pinecote Pavilion.