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North Mississippi boasts a bumper crop of scarecrows
MISSISSIPPI STATE --"Lions and tigers and bears, oh my," Dorothy exclaimed in the "Wizard of Oz." While there are no lions, tigers or bears, one of Dorothy's traveling companions would feel right at home at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona.
The center's Scarecrow Trail opened to the public Sept. 20 and will remain open 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays through Oct. 17. The trail winds through flower gardens filled with roses, irises and other flowers, and landscape plants. More than 40 scarecrows are strategically located along the garden paths.
"This is the first year for the Scarecrow Trail," said Alice Nunnelley, scarecrow project chair of the North Mississippi Extension Horticulture Center Master Gardeners. "The trail was created to introduce youth to gardening, to encourage them to want to learn more about gardening and to have fun participating the 4-H Junior Master Gardener program."
The trail is sponsored by the Master Gardeners, the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The idea for the Scarecrow Trail, Nunnelley said, came from similar exhibits in her native Pennsylvania and at Alabama's Huntsville Botanical Gardens.
The scarecrows were made for a competition sponsored by the Master Gardeners and the Tupelo Visitors and Convention Bureau.
"Many of the scarecrows were made by area elementary and middle school classes," said Extension Master Gardener state coordinator Lelia Kelly. "Businesses, individuals and civic organizations also used their talents to create scarecrows for the trail."
The creations range from the traditional overall-clad straw protectors of gardens from marauding crows to a giant "bugzilla."
Admission is free and families or individuals who want to enjoy the gardens and exhibits may walk the trail anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Guided tours for groups also are available. Make reservations by calling Karla Jarrett of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau at (662) 841-6521 or (800) 533-0611.
For additional information on the 4-H Junior Master Gardener program, visit http://www.msucares.com/lawn/garden/youth/junior.html or contact the local county Extension 4-H agent.