By Dr. Gary Bachman
The Meridian Star
For more than 30 years, those interested in home horticulture have been found at two events in early October that showcase landscapes and gardens.
The back-to-back events are sponsored by the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES). The 39th annual Ornamental Horticulture Field Day is Thursday at the South Mississippi Branch Station in Poplarville. The 34th annual Fall Flower and Garden Fest is Friday and Saturday at MSU’s Truck Crops Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.
Those wanting to attend the horticulture field day can begin registering at 9 a.m. for the program, which runs from 9:30 a.m. through lunch. A $10 registration, $6.50 for students, covers lunch and refreshments.
The field day offers tours of the research and the All-America Selections trial gardens. Presentations will cover the latest information on new plants, landscape plant performance, entomology, plant pathology, plant breeding and home horticulture.
Attendees can speak with horticulture experts from MSU and scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service.
Beginning the next day is the Fall Flower and Garden Fest in Crystal Springs. This festival celebrates everything about the garden and is one of the best free horticulture field days in the entire Southeast.
The weekend event offers something for the entire family. All of the Experiment Station gardens and grounds, seminar areas and wagon tours are handicapped accessible. Vendors will serve food and drinks at the event, open each day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This year’s theme of “Healthy Living – Healthy Gardening” will kick off at 9:30 a.m. Friday with a 1-mile fun walk organized by the Let’s Go Walkin’ Mississippi initiative.
The 3-acre garden site will offer everyone from garden novices to Master Gardeners lots to see and learn. Visitors can view a great selection of tough roses, ornamental grasses, tropical plants and of course, fall vegetables and herbs.
Mississippi Medallion winners and plants from the All-America Selections program will be featured. The tropical garden, with its giant banana plants, is a favorite of visitors every year.
Numerous educational activities are planned as well. Master Gardeners and MSU specialists will present non-stop seminars and exhibits on managing ponds, beekeeping, composting, creating backyard habitats, establishing flower trails and growing favorite garden plants.
Walking tours will allow visitors to investigate research projects at the branch station. The project on agri-ability will show ways those with decreased mobility can access the garden. Other tour topics include insects and diseases, high tunnels, and vegetable gardening.
Across the lake, vendors will sell popular, new plants perfect for fall planting and must-have landscape accessories.
I will be there along with other horticulture experts from MSU to answer tough garden and landscape questions. Most experts will be wearing blue vests. Of course, I will have on my Hawaiian colors, so come on up and introduce yourself.
Those with Smartphones can use the Fall Flower and Garden Fest app to view the complete schedule of events. For instructions or to download the app, go to http://guidebook.com/g/ffgfest.
The Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station is located in Crystal Springs about 25 miles south of Jackson on Highway 51. The South Mississippi Branch Station is located in Poplarville across from Pearl River Community College. Contact your local MSU Extension office for more information.
• Dr. Gary Bachman is an assistant Extension research professor of horticulture at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi.