Ad Spot

The Crosby Arboretum: Now open for business

By Patricia Drackett
Director of the Crosby Arboretum

The Arboretum’s long-awaited day has finally arrived! As of Wednesday, June 3, our public garden is again open to the public.

Many changes have taken place over these last few spring months in the Arboretum’s plant exhibits. Blooms have come and gone on a variety of native trees, shrubs, and perennials. We’ve also had the privilege of being able to take an occasional walk and observe the seasonal change of spring flowers along our pathways. The constantly changing show of blooming perennials found in our south pitcher plant bug is especially awesome and will continue into the fall.

Plan to take a walk soon! Remember we are a dog-friendly site, so bring Fido along and you can both enjoy a stroll around the Arboretum.

For those of you have been keeping up with the development of our pollinator garden, a visit to these raised beds located adjacent to our greenhouse will reveal that this area has grown recently by leaps and bounds. Looking at a photo taken of the area in April, it really seems as if the plants have doubled in size! They are currently covered in blooms, and butterflies, bees, and other insects are constantly adding to the hubbub of activity here.
A number of propagation projects are planned for the summer months. Our dedicated Arboretum volunteers include Pearl River County Master Gardeners, who are not missing a beat after helping with our big spring native plant sale held in mid-May. Trays of native fall-blooming perennials such as Liatris, also known as blazing star, await transplanting to larger containers from the flats where Terry Johnson scattered seed in March.

We had incredible success this year with germinating Liatris seed! The seed was mostly collected in the south pitcher plant bog and stored in a paper bag until sowing this spring, but some were collected from the north end of the Arboretum, from a white-blooming Liatris. It will be great fun to see if the collected seed result in plants that have white flowers.

One of the projects the volunteers will be assisting with is to install more labels with plant information on the plants in the pollinator garden. Many of the plants here are low-maintenance, and drought-tolerant. We hope by increasing the amount of signage in the garden so visitors can learn what species they would like to try in their own home gardens.

We’d venture that most of you have an area or two where you’d like to add a few colorful, high-performing blooming perennials which will attract birds, bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Choose tough native wildflowers such as Coreopsis, Gaura, black-eyed Susan, scarlet sage, or Stokes aster, and you may find that your maintenance regime can be next to nothing!

Of course, as summertime and warm temperatures return, keeping garden beds from drying out can be a challenge, and it helps to have a system that will water automatically. However, this doesn’t mean you need to provide an extensive and expensive irrigation system. Simply add a common rotating sprinkler or two and control them with inexpensive manual timers. This is the method we use in our small nursery holding area where we store nursery stock in preparation for plant sales. Except for an occasional check to make sure the timer remains on, once everything is set up and the timer is set, it all basically takes care of itself!

The “Green Team” has been embarking on several new greenhouse propagation projects, which include growing more milkweed by seed and cuttings, to establish large areas of this plant in both the pollinator garden and to offer for visitors’ home gardens to prepare for the monarch butterflies arriving next spring. Master Garden Amy Nichols has planted cardinal flower and scarlet sage seed, which are both highly attractive to hummingbirds.

The plants are growing quickly and soon will be offered for sale on the visitor center deck.
Take a tip from the Green Team volunteers – plan to visit the Arboretum early in the day! The gates open at 9 AM and we are open Wednesday through Sunday. Children enjoy feed the fish and turtles in the Piney Woods Pond from the Pinecote Pavilion. We hope to see you soon!

The Crosby Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4. To receive updates on activities, you may sign up for our email listserv at “Events Updates” on the main menu on our website at http://crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu.