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Mississippi coastal Region

October 12, 2016

We were in the coastal region today for our second MG celebration event for their 25 years of service. Our session was from 2-5 so we had time this morning to visit the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station. This is an All-American test garden and the station is also a USDA Research Sation. It is heavily involved in ornamental trials, blueberries and grapes, sugar cane and some vegetables.

Dr. Gene Blythe the ornamental research scientist at the center met us and gave us the grand tour. We also ran into UA graduate and now Miss. Fruit specialist Eric Stafne. 

We really need something like this in Arkansas. The annual trials were amazing. 

The summer annuals were still going strong in most beds,while they were beginning to plant winter annuals along with vegetables that can be used as ornamentals.

Along with annuals there are also perennial trials and a demonstration garden. We saw the most interesting Vitex. 

We also got to harvest pineapple guava fruits, which we just sampled in our room for a late dinner. 

 A huge Piper auritum, or Rootbeer plant is grown to extract aromatic oils. That is one of the other parts of their research looking for natural insecticides or other uses for plant oils. 

This is related to the plant we get pepper from. If you crush the leaves of this plant it smells just like rootbeer.

I saw a single confederate rose bloom along with numerous doubles. 

After a quick lunch with Gene we were on the road to our 2nd meeting. It was well-attended and I got to meet a lot of friendly Master Gardeners. 

We had a little over 2 hour drive with Jackson traffic, so got to our hotel about 8. Tomorrow we plan to leave early to see Crystal Springs gardens before our 1 pm session. Two down and two more to go. 

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