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Family fun abounds at fall flower, garden fest (2005)
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
After Katrina, Rita, and almost endless tornado warnings, "Dr. Norman" has the perfect prescription for the blues -- the 27th annual Fall Flower & Garden Fest in Crystal Springs.
Scheduled for Oct. 14 and 15, this annual event at the Trucks Crops Experiment Station is without a doubt the best free horticultural activity in the South.
The Fest has become like a giant garden and patio show held in the garden. When I say garden, I am talking about 3 acres filled with vegetables, herbs, annuals, perennials and landscape ideas. When I say garden and patio show, I am talking about exhibitors from across the state selling the latest new plants as well as the best old-timers that are all perfect for fall planting.
The Fest is like the State Fair in that there is also delicious food such as vegetable plates, rib eye sandwiches and catfish. Grab a plate and a drink, then sit on hay bales under the oak trees.
Kids love the activities available during the Fest, too. Some of those opportunities include a family corn maze, insect identification, wagon tours, hummingbird and butterfly garden, funny scarecrows and much more.
There are nonstop garden seminars going on simultaneously in three places. You can hear topics with titles like Pruning Trees and Ornamental Shrubs, Say Hi to Hydrangeas, Picking the Right Tree, Best New Plants for 2006, Munchin' on Weeds, Amazing Ways with Bulbs, What's Wrong With My Plants, Go Wild With Wildflowers, Making Hypertufa Pots and many more topics. A very special guest this year is Kerry Strope with Proven Winners who will speak on Color Your Garden With Fall Magic.
Be sure to look at the banana trial in the garden. This is the second year of the trial, and they are holding up rather well despite going through two hurricanes. You also will want to pay attention to Black Pearl, the great new ornamental pepper that is an All-American Selections winner for 2006.
The Knock Rose has been added to this year's garden. It has become the standard for which all other hardy roses are compared. You will not only see them blooming but also will be able to buy them from vendors.
The Master Gardeners from Warren County will be hosting visitors in the shade garden and offering prime advice and demonstrations on which plants work well in these low-light conditions. The Master Gardeners from Hinds and Copiah counties have a demonstration garden with ornamental grasses.
The Natural Resources and Conservation Service has built a backyard wildlife habitat and invite everyone to stop by and learn how to attract birds, butterflies and bees.
The 27th annual fall fest will take place from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. both days. Sponsored by Mississippi State University's Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, the event attracts more than 6,000 people from across the region every year. In addition to the garden tours, visitors can view educational displays and demonstrations.
So listen to ole Dr. Norm: You will get your energy back and a renewed vigor to get outside and garden if you'll visit this year's Fall Flower & Garden Fest. Bring your church, your club or your entire family.
The Truck Crops Experiment Station is located on Highway 51 in Crystal Springs, 25 miles south of Jackson. Take exit 68 off Interstate 55 to get there. For more information, call (601) 892-3731 or the local county Extension office.