Learn some landscaping tips on our Pearl River County Roadsides – Picayune

By Patricia Drakett

Director of the Crosby Arboretum and

Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Extension in the Extension Service at Mississippi State University.

During my travels in Pearl River County for the past few weeks, I have been delighted to observe the development of perennials and grasses. While I enjoy emerging spring wildflowers, these more delicate blooms can “melt” with warmer weather, so I admit I sometimes look forward to hot summer days and more roadside displays. hardies that appear later in the growing season.

Make no mistake, these delicate spring blooms will bring a stunning burst of color to your landscape, make an attractive yet fleeting bouquet on your bedside table, and their fragile nature makes them especially lovely for pressed flower projects. But as I write this, I look up from my laptop at an arrangement of swamp sunflowers, candy cane plume grass, panic grass and ladies’ hatpins from the bog from the southern pitcher plant that have been sitting in a vase on my kitchen table for several years.

When I say ‘hardy’ I mean ‘long-lasting’ – summer flowers tend to have bigger and thicker petals, and I guess they have to be because they have to deal with the scorching sun and burning. They will still dry well in pressed flower arrangements, even if they are a bit more lumpy. But even after a few years in a vase, the yellow petals of my dried marsh sunflowers are still so beautiful. Their sloppy nature certainly matches my lifestyle, and blemishes are hard to improve on, as they say.

Drinking in a crazy quilt of colors and textures so skillfully woven together by Mother Nature on my journeys is an enchanting experience, and it inevitably reminds me of my early years in college studying landscape architecture. During the crash courses where we learned to produce aesthetic planting designs, we would be sequestered at our studio drawing tables for weeks.

Eventually we would feel the need to emerge for some fresh air and decide to take a drive on the nearby country roads. Through eyes and minds that had only recently constructed designs to established design principles and rhythms, we would still be stunned by the perfection we saw unfolding along the roads. How could our own attempts improve the beauty of these glorious natural models? The plants we observed were in specific locations based on their habitat preferences, and the patterns resulted from environmental factors such as moisture or soil type, available sunlight, or slope of the terrain.

At some point in your own travels, you’ve surely noticed “Oh, isn’t it pretty”, in response to certain landscapes, flowers or roadside scenery. By learning to identify the plants you see regularly, you can learn more about the habitats they prefer and maybe even uncover some low-maintenance additions to consider for your home landscape!

If you’ve never visited the Crosby Arboretum, we invite you to plan your visit to explore a wonderful place revered and respected nationwide by the community garden community. It has the potential to enrich your life – and your gardening methods – in so many ways!

Join us for the “Designing a Pollinator Garden” program on Saturday, July 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. to learn how to create gardens that attract and support pollinators. These sloppy landscapes can come alive with movement, saving you time and money, working with ecological processes and contributing to local biodiversity. Spend more time enjoying your garden, not working in it, with Arboretum Manager Pat Drackett. Free for members and $5 for non-members.

Register for the “Introduction to bird watching” walk with birding enthusiast Jessica Martin on Saturday, July 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Learn tips, resources, and gear available for beginners and others, in addition to common bird species found in the area. The cost is $2 for Arboretum members and $7 for non-members.

Attend the Wire-Wrapped Jewelry Workshop on how to make a pendant with jeweler Connie Boyd of Unique Stones on Saturday, July 16 from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Learn how to make a beautiful handmade pendant wrapped in sterling silver. The program costs $70 and includes a chain, tools to use, silver wire and your choice of a semi-precious stone paid directly to the instructor on the day of the workshop in cash or check. More precious stones such as turquoise will be available for a bit more if desired.

Please call 601-799-2311 to register for programs and reserve your spot (pay on arrival). For more information, see our website calendar at http://crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu/ or visit our Facebook page. The Arboretum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune at I-59 exit 4. Leashed pets are always welcome.

Abdul J. Gaspar