While studying for my Landscape Architecture degree at Mississippi State University, we often relied on stellar works in design as inspiration for our school projects. One of the projects that appeared often in the professors’ slide shows was the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, Mississippi. Architecture, Forestry and Civil Engineering are all represented in the creation of this magnificent place.
I’ve known about the Crosby Arboretum for about 20 years and even lived within two-hours travel of it at one time. I have seen hundreds of photographs of the Pinecote Pavilion, but for the first time I experienced its massive space. The pavilion fits so well within the environment that you literally walk into its shadow before you realize it is there. It is constructed of native materials, and the loose, unfinished edges seem to blend right into the surrounding trees. Its space is open but intimate. A popular spot to admire the pavilion is from across the pond. The building is without a doubt the most recognizable feature of the 104 acre site, but there are so many other elements that contribute to the arboretum’s beauty.
During the spring and summer, the Crosby Arboretum’s savanna is filled with thousands of pitcher plants and multitudes of butterflies feverishly work the wildflowers. But it has much to offer in the winter season as well. The quiet woods and the bare trees branched against a bluebird sky emit a feeling of peacefulness. As we wandered through the woodland exhibit, the birds sang and enjoyed a feast of bright red fruits of the native Yaupon Holly.
As an active outdoorsman and an eight-year resident of the Gulf Coast, I have become very aware of invasive plants. Two very common invasive species we see here on the Gulf Coast are Cogon Grass and Chinese Tallow Tree or Popcorn Trees. They are growing out of control and are taking over our native landscapes. While at Crosby, I sought out these two species and was amazed that we didn’t find either of them, not even on the roadside outside the boundaries of the arboretum. I don’t doubt that the staff regularly battles the invasive plants.
Outside the 104-acre interpretive center site, the Crosby Arboretum also manages 700 acres in seven associated natural areas.The assemblage of carefully selected and protected lands nurtures over 300 species of indigenous trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses. Rare, threatened, or endangered species of plants and wildlife are present throughout the Arboretum’s preserves.
Thanks to Laurel Fleming for editing.
Thanks to Michelle Rolls-Thomas for the photos. Please be sure to click on them and see them full sized. They are great pictures.
View a video of our visit to the Crosby Arboretum here: