By Patricia Drackett

Director of the Crosby Arboretum and

extension assistant professor of landscape architecture at Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Recently I received a question that I have heard several times before, when I told someone I worked at Crosby Arboretum that they asked me, “What are you all doing over there? “ I embarked on my usual elevator talk that we are a 64-acre public garden owned by Mississippi State University and operated by the Extension Service, with three miles of trails, and staffed with of an architectural structure designated as a Mississippi Monument, designed by E. Fay Jones, a pupil of Frank Lloyd Wright. If you’ve never heard of these two famous architects, just glance at your computer and look for pictures of the structures they designed.

Crosby Arboretum is also known for being a recreation site and is a great destination to attract out of town guests regardless of the season. We organize 5 km trails, open mic evenings, cultural and heritage events, wildlife days and plant sales. We are also an educational facility, offering an ongoing calendar of programs and events dedicated to educating the public about the natural world, such as native plant species, home gardening and landscaping methods, wildlife. , pollinators and coastal ecosystems, in addition to art workshops and regular art exhibitions in our small gallery.

At the end of 2021, the Arboretum had more than 400 members and renewals for 2022 are constantly increasing. Members of Crosby Arboretum also benefit from a membership in the American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admission Program, which allows free or reduced entry to over 300 other US public gardens. Brochures in our Visitor Center provide information on many of these gardens.

One encouraging thing is the growing number of people, when asked if they have ever visited, respond that they did so so many years ago on a school trip. I wondered if some of the images spinning on our flatscreen in the Visitor Center, which contains many photos of students on field days in the late 1980s and 1990s, might be. these same people, all adults and returning to visit with a friend in tow. Some profess a deep passion for plants and nature, and their enthusiasm keeps me through days full of tedious tasks. I hope that the journeys of these young visitors along our trails will be as rewarding as the days spent here long ago, which apparently inspired their return.

Maybe you spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid, looking forward to the arrival of each season and new sites to discover each day? As you walk through the Arboretum, you can awaken that joy of times spent exploring the outdoors. Please visit us soon to explore our grounds this winter. January and February will offer extraordinary activities!

You will have two opportunities in January for a relaxing forest therapy walk with Nadine Phillips, a certified forest therapy guide in training with the International Alliance for Forest and Natural Therapy (INFTA). Deeply rooted in the Japanese concept of Shinrin-yoku, or “swimming in the forest air,” forest therapy is an evidence-based public health practice believed to be a natural remedy for reducing stress and leading the way. to a happier, healthier life and more. rewarding life. The walks are on Sunday January 16 and Sunday January 30, from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Attendance is limited. Please call 601-799-2311 to register.

Attend an art workshop on January 15 from 10 a.m. to noon with Hattiesburg artist Traci Stover, our next gallery exhibition. You will work freely with a grid as a visual art tool to interpret photographs in your own work of art. All supplies and a grid image will be provided to participants to demonstrate this technique. Members $ 15; non-members $ 20. Limited space. Registration required.

Kids will experience the poisonous Mississippi snakes on Sunday, Jan.23, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. with Pearl River County Extension Officer Dr. Eddie Smith. Realistic snake replicas will be used in the program. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Registration required. Free program for members; children of non-members $ 3; adult non-members $ 5.

Our annual Forge Day is Saturday, January 29 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., a day of blacksmithing and metalworking activities. Some metallurgists allow you to try your hand at blacksmithing (waiver form required). If you would like to secure your place, simply call the office to register. Mark your calendar for our Arbor Day plant sale on Saturday, February 12 from 10:00 am to noon.

For more information, see our website at www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu. If you have any questions, call our office at 601-799-2311. We open at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday and the entrance gates close at 4:00 p.m. and are located in Picayune, at Exit 4 of I-59, at 370 Ridge Road. Pets on a leash are always welcome!