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Give your yard a face-lift for the holidays

By Pat Drackett

Crosby Arboretum Director

Have you been thinking about spending some time in your yard to spruce things up for your holiday visitors? Perhaps you’ve been watching the leaves falling during the past week of crisp autumn morning temperatures and pondering what you should do first to get your landscape ready for the holidays.

One of the quickest ways to give your yard a face-lift is to grab a shovel and start trimming your landscape beds to create nice, clean edges. If you have a flexible garden hose, you can use it as a guide to cut against for a gentle curve to your beds. Cut back on any grass that is “pushing its boundaries.” If you’re feeling especially industrious you can remove enough turf in some areas for adding low-growing plants at the bed edge.

Finish up this project by adding fresh mulch to your landscape beds. Pine straw is light to carry and readily available in inexpensive bales, or even free, if it occurs on your property! After mulching, stand back and take in the “big picture” of your handiwork. Are there areas where you could add some fall color or texture to create some pizzaz?

A little color can go a long way to add interest to your yard. Although at the Crosby Arboretum we promote learning opportunities for our Mississippi native plant species, we also understand that fall and spring are the two seasons when it is hard to resist an urge to bring home some blooming plants to spice up our holidays.

Colorful plants can draw your visitor’s eye to the front entrance. Are your beds already stuffed full? Perhaps you have room to locate a planting container (or matching containers) near your entrance or where your guests will park.

Many of us will be bringing home chrysanthemums from the garden center for Thanksgiving, but did you know you can plant these in your garden when they start to fade? Many of the “mums” you purchase for short-term decorations will function in your garden just like other perennials, even though it may take a few years until they are truly vigorous.

Add some long-lasting, top-performing annual color to your containers or color areas that will be resistant to this upcoming chilly weather, such as pansies. For extra visual appeal, use plants having a trailing habit, such as ivy, that will spill over the sides of your container.

Expand your project if you have the energy, by picking another location or two where you can repeat the same plants you use at your entrance, for example, at your mailbox, a bed along your driveway or walk, or near a back patio or entertaining area.

At the Arboretum, we’re currently enjoying our flowering witch hazel tree! This small tree grows along the path in front of our Visitor Center and is a very surprising sight when its strap-like flowers bloom. On a walk through our public garden you will see other native species that offer winter interest, such as the bright red berries on a variety of hollies (Latin name, Ilex) like American, yaupon or winterberry holly.

American holly is the traditional “Christmas holly” used in garlands, wreaths, and mantle decorations (wear gloves!). You can use the lower branches trimmed from your tree to attach with floral wire on wreath frames made from wire or grapevine. Mix in American holly, pine boughs, Southern Magnolia leaves and pinecones. Garlands can be made using rough twine as a base, in the same manner. These simple projects provide inexpensive holiday decorations!

This Saturday, Nov. 21, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., join certified yoga instructor James Sones in the beautiful natural setting of Pinecote Pavilion for a gentle yoga class and short meditation sitting. Class is limited to 15 persons. Please bring your yoga mat and arrive 10 minutes early.

Reservations are requested. Members free, non-members $5. A children’s craft workshop, “Winter Wildlife Birdhouses & Feeders” will also be held from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Build and paint a bird house from a kit, and craft bird feeders from pinecones, peanut butter and birdseed in this workshop led by Sherri Lowe. Limited to 12 persons, registration is required. All children must be accompanied by an adult. There is no minimum age requirement. Cost, $7 for members’ children; $10 for non-members’ children. Adult members, free; non-member adults pay regular site admission. Call 601-799-2311 to sign up for Arboretum programs.

The Arboretum is open Wednesday through Sunday and located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Rd. Exit gates are closed at 4:30 p.m. The business office is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.