Arboretum Paths: What have you done lately for your local wildlife?Published 7:00am Wednesday, February 19, 2014
By Patricia Drackett
Director, Crosby Arboretum/ MSU Extension
Yes, you read that right. Can you identify the native plants in your yard that have a high value to our local critters, providing them with their breakfast, lunch, and dinner? And while we often think of native shrubs and trees having obvious or colorful berries as being a primary source of food for wildlife food, often, a tasty meal comes in the form of insects that munch on leaves or other plant parts, later becoming a protein-rich meal, perhaps for a baby bird.
A walk along the Arboretum’s pathways will reveal a number of plants favored by local wildlife. Why not add a few of these plants to your own home landscape for the area wildlife? The MSU Extension Publication 2402,” Establishing a Backyard Wildlife Habitat” is available at www.MSUcares.com and contains many lists of plants, native and non-native, to attract birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, pollinators, and other wildlife to your yard.
Native trees at the Arboretum with a high value to wildlife include mayhaw, parsley hawthorn, American holly, Southern magnolia, wax myrtle, Southern crabapple, black gum, longleaf pine, persimmon, and numerous species of oaks. Shrubs include American beautyberry, buttonbush, fringe tree (Grancy gray beard), “huckleberries” such as Elliott’s blueberry and dwarf blueberry (Vaccinium darrowii), and numerous species of holly and Viburnum. For more information, you may research these plants in the Crosby Arboretum’s Native Plant Data Base, linked from our homepage at www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu
The Southern crabapple featured in the photo produces small yellow and red fruit that attract a wide variety of wildlife including deer, fox, raccoons, turkeys, and squirrels. But you may like to grow it simply because it is a beautiful spring-flowering specimen tree. More blooms, and fruit, are produced when located in full sun, but it will also take some shade. It grows naturally in fields and thickets and on moist, well-drained stream banks. Birds will build their nests among the thorny branches for protection from predators. Like mayhaw, the fruit may be used to make jelly.
The Arboretum’s Spring Native Plant Sale will be held on March 21 and 22. Many of our old-fashioned native favorites such as pink honeysuckle azalea, Grancy gray beard, mayhaw, and huckleberries will be found at the sale. Are you looking for a particular native plant? Just let us know and we’ll do our best to locate it for you.
Want to grow your own vegetables, but just don’t have the space, time, or energy? Join Brenda Myers, Certified Square Foot Gardener and Master Gardener, on Saturday, February 22 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. for a program on “Square Foot Gardening: No Weeding, No Digging, No Tilling, No Kidding”, based on America’s best-selling vegetable gardening book by Mel Bartholomew. The program is free to members and $5 for non-members.
Learn how to create your own beautiful and unique designs craft projects using gourds in our Gourdcrafting Workshop on Saturday, March 8, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon. Artist Janet Schlauderaff will cover how to grow, prepare, and work with gourds as well as demonstrating a variety of practices and techniques. Cost is $4 for members and $6 for non-members.
Prepare for your spring gardening and landscaping activities! Attend the Garden & Patio Show in Biloxi at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center on March 7, 8, and 9. Make sure to visit the MSU Extension booth and pick up informative publications and consult with Extension professionals who will be on hand to answer your questions about garden pests and diseases, turf care, plant identification, and more. Information on the event, including hours and admission, can be found on the website of the Mississippi Nursery & Landscape Association (www.msnla.org).
For more information, call the Crosby Arboretum office at (601) 799-2311 or visit our website at www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu. We are open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and located in Picayune, off I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59).
FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION:
Information on Mississippi native plants with wildlife value can be found in Publication 2330, Native Trees for Mississippi Landscapes, and Publication 2334, Native Shrubs for Mississippi Landscapes available on the Mississippi State University Extension Service website (www.MSUcares.com).
These two publications were written by former Arboretum site director and curator Bob Brzuszek.
Bob’s new book “The Crosby Arboretum: A Sustainable Regional Landscape” (LSU Press) will be released in April. A booksigning event with the author will take place at the Crosby Arboretum’s Strawberries & Cream Festival on April 13, 2014, from 1 to 3 p.m.