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State Prepares For Summer Visitors
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Company is coming to Mississippi in the form of hundreds of thousands of tourists, and Mississippians are encouraged to have the state ready for visitors.
First Lady Pat Fordice initiated the Splendors of Mississippi program last fall to complement the upcoming Splendors of Versailles and the International Ballet Competition, both to be held in Jackson this year. Her two-part beautification program is encouraging the planting of yellow, white and gold flowers all over the state, and keeping roadways free of litter.
"I ask Mississippians to take pride in their home and in their state as their home, especially this spring when we're going to have so many people from out of state visit us," Fordice said. "We have to get ready for company."
The flower colors were chosen because the state wildflower, calliopsis, is yellow and since the Sun King is the theme of the Splendors of Versailles exhibit.
Norman Winter, extension horticulturist with Mississippi State University, has prepared a list of plants blooming, white, yellow and gold.
"Everyone is encouraged to plant these flowers," Winter said. "We want visitors to see cities and businesses taking part in the program and know Mississippians are proud of their state."
Fordice said the beautification idea came to her after attending a conference last spring and seeing other Southern states' efforts with wildflowers.
"Everybody was showing slides and pictures, and we just didn't measure up," she said. "We were doing a lot, but there was more to be done."
Fordice contacted several agencies and groups to get her program started. One of the most instrumental was the Mississippi Department of Transportation, which has planted wildflowers at 17 highway entrances to Mississippi.
With yellow, white and gold flowers blooming around the state, the second part of the program tackles the litter problem.
"There's litter everywhere," Fordice said. "You pick it up one day and it's back the next. What's the point of having these beautiful flowers if you have all the litter?"
Fordice asked all Mississippians to do their part to fight litter.
"Pick it up, clean it up and plant it yellow," Fordice said.
Winter recommended several plants to be used at shopping center, business and home flower beds to promote the Splendors of Mississippi theme. Annuals include large marigolds, narrow leaf zinnias, melampodiums and Indian Summer rudbeckias. Among the perennials are Goldstrum rudbeckias, daylilies, coreopsis and new gold lantana.
Nurseries across the state are well stocked with yellow, white and gold flowers and can suggest which ones will work best in different situations.
The Splendor of Versailles will be in Jackson April 1 through Aug. 31. The International Ballet Competition is June 13 to 28 in Jackson.