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A white sign with dark green lettering reads, “Monarch Waystation: This site provides milkweeds, nectar sources, and shelter needed to sustain monarch butterflies as they migrate through North America. Certified and registered by Monarch Watch as an official Monarch Waystation. Create, Conserve, & Protect Monarch Habitats.”

Compiled by Leah Barbour

A butterfly lands on a pink flower.

Extension Designates Monarch Garden

Photo by Kevin Hudson 

The Crosby Arboretum in Picayune has featured a children’s educational garden for many years, but the Pearl River County Master Gardeners wanted to renovate the space to encourage more monarch butterflies to visit.

The Master Gardeners, volunteers trained and overseen by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, added native milkweed plants and other nectar-producing plants to offer suitable habitat to monarchs during their twice-a-year migrations. Milkweed provides the only food source for monarch caterpillars and serves as a place for adult monarchs to lay their eggs. Adult butterflies, like other pollinators, feed on nectar for energy.

Extension’s first official, certified Monarch Waystation was designated with a sign from Monarch Watch, a nonprofit organization that manages the habitat expansion and preservation program for monarch butterflies.


A man wears a white polo shirt with a Mississippi State University emblem on the right breast pocket, and his arm is lifted and pointing right.
Rick Webb tells how landscapes benefit the environment.

Trial Gardens Program Begins Storytelling Series 

Photo by Kevin Hudson 

Understanding the power of storytelling to connect the dots between people and plants, leaders with the Mississippi State Trial Gardens recently organized a storytelling series.

The series, “The Story of Plants and People,” offers a monthly opportunity during the semester for MSU students, employees, and visitors to hear from national and international botany experts. These experts are also storytellers who spin history into narrative experiences. This year’s lecture topics have included “The Story of African Crops in American Gardens,” “The Story of Azaleas,” “The Story of the Rowan Oak—Faulkner’s Little Postage Stamp of Soil,” and “The Story of Functional Landscapes.”

This series is coordinated by Dr. Geoff Denny, assistant Extension professor and manager of the Trial Gardens. The Mississippi State University Extension Service oversees the Trial Gardens program. Discover upcoming installments in the series at the Trial Gardens website, (https:// blogs.extension.msstate.edu/trialgardens/).


A variety of plants were sold at the Everything Garden Expo in Starkville.
Gary Bachman, the Mississippi State University Extension Service “Southern Gardener,” and Nellie Neal, radio personality “Garden Mama,” led presentations at the Everything Garden Expo.

Garden Expo Highlights Extension Education

Photo by Kevin Hudson 

As spring began blooming in late March, the Everything Garden Expo at the Mississippi Horse Park in Starkville returned to the community after a 4-year break.

Hundreds of local residents took advantage of a fun, 2-day opportunity to learn about plants, lawns, landscapes, and gardens. Participants enjoyed a variety of garden activities, and they received the information they needed to make this year’s gardens the most successful ever.

The Oktibbeha County Master Gardeners, a volunteer group trained and overseen by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, hosted several expert speakers. “Garden Mama” Nellie Neal, a well-known Mississippi radio personality, presented information on cut flowers, and Extension’s “Southern Gardener” Dr. Gary Bachman explained how to grow vegetables in containers. Floral design specialist Dr. Jim DelPrince shared his knowledge of contemporary flower arrangements.

Close to 60 vendors sold plants, tools, and artwork.


Flowers in a green field include orange, yellow and pink blooms.

Keep America Beautiful Recognizes MSU Extension

Photo by Susan Collins-Smith

Bringing wildflowers to public places and rights-of-way supports healthy ecosystems, even in locations where asphalt and concrete abound. One conservation expert with the Mississippi State University Extension Service used his understanding of the importance of these flowers to develop a project recently recognized with a national award from Keep America Beautiful.

The Wildflower Trail project, an effort to help bring wildflowers to public areas and rights-of-way across Mississippi, was begun by Keep Mississippi Beautiful. Assistant Extension and research professor Dr. Brett Rushing developed a seed mix and a site-maintenance plan. Representing Extension, he partnered with Keep Mississippi Beautiful, the Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Service, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, and the Mississippi Master Gardener program.

Because of this work to reintroduce wildflowers across the state, Rushing won the Keep America Beautiful 2017 State Agency Partnership Award for encouraging local governments, businesses, and private citizens to work together to make Mississippi a cleaner, greener, and more beautiful place to live.

MSU Extension Service
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