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Home landscape projects: Planning for the fall

By Pat Drackett

Crosby Arboretum Director

If your landscape currently looks a little humdrum, just take a look around at yards in your neighborhood and during your daily travels. Make a note of the plants you see that are flourishing right now. Then, make plans to include some of these in your own landscape to give it a little more pizzazz “same time next year.”

We are most often bit by a case of “planting fever” in the springtime, because so many plants are flowering at this time. However, it can leave our fall landscapes a bit drab if we only choose plants that bloom in the spring and summer. Keep in mind that fall and winter months also offer you some outstanding opportunities when installing new landscape plants.

Not only will you enjoy working in the cooler weather, but consider that there will be many warm days in coastal Mississippi during those dormant seasons, and therefore there will be a long period of time for newly installed plants to develop their roots and become well-established.

How about some free mulch or compost? If you have trees in your yard, you may already have a perfect source. If you have pine trees, consider using pine straw to mulch your landscape beds. You may have noticed that bales of pine straw mulch have become widely available due to it being more a cost-effective and lighter mulch to carry than bagged mulches. Pine straw also has less tendency to wash away from sloped surfaces than bark mulches. Do you rake your leaves in the fall, bag them up, and leave them by the curb? Start a compost pile instead and allow them to break down and use them as a mulch or soil amendment.

Compost piles don’t need to be fancy. I’ve seen some practical, inexpensive three-sided compost areas made of metal or wood posts and metal mesh fencing. For more information, see Publication No. 1782, “Composting for the Mississippi Gardener” at the MSU Extension website, http://extension.msstate.edu/. Enter “Smart Landscapes” in the home page search field for more great ideas on designing resilient, low-maintenance gardens.

Browse the Arboretum’s selection of fall-blooming native perennials in our ongoing deck sale! Stay tuned for our Fall Native Plant Sale that will be held on Friday and Saturday, October 16 and 17.

Attend a Rock Painting Workshop this Saturday, October 3, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Tap into your artistic side! Participants will paint a rock to be hidden at the Arboretum for future guests to discover and also take one home to place in their own garden. There is no age limit for this workshop, so it will be a great activity for the entire family! The cost for members is $5 and non-members are $7. Please call 601-799-2311 to reserve your spot, as space is limited.

Later that day, please join us for “An Afternoon with The Bug Lady” from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. If you love butterflies, don’t miss this outstanding program with New Orleans “Bug Lady” Linda Auld. A prolific writer and public presenter, Linda is the owner of Barber Laboratories, a pest control supply store founded in 1921 by her grandfather. In addition to helping New Orleanians with their pest issues, she has studied and promoted beneficial insects for over 40 years, raising 127 different species of butterflies and moths. Linda has performed annual butterfly surveys for almost three decades for the North American Butterfly Association, has installed seventeen school gardens in the New Orleans Metro area to aid monarch and other butterflies and created seven Monarch Waystations for various Louisiana cities

In 2019, Linda published her first book, “BugLady’s Butterfly Summer,” available at the Arboretum Gift Shop and www.barberlaboratories.com. Linda’s 2020 project is celebrating the life of Caroline Dormon, an intriguing teacher, conservationist and artist who was born in the little town of Acadia, Louisiana in 1888. Ms. Dormon is famous for being the first woman spokesperson in the U.S. Forestry Service.

In her Saturday presentation, “Caroline Dormon: Louisiana Pioneer Woman,” Bug Lady will talk about the five books written by Dormon, her fascinating life and phenomenal accomplishments and the beautiful Briarwood Nature Preserve located in Saline, Louisiana, where you can visit (see http://www.briarwoodnp.org/). Come learn about this remarkable woman and her fantastic books that highlight the unique native plants species of our region. All book sales at the event will aid Briarwood in restoration repairs due to tornado damage.

For more information on the Arboretum, visit www.crosbyarboretum.msstate.edu. We are open Wednesday through Sunday and located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road. Exit gates are closed at 4:30 p.m. The business office is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.