MSU research station earns national respectFriday, November 6, 2015
By: Linda M. Breazeale
The All-America Selections organization named a Mississippi State University experiment station as one of the top landscape gardens in North America.
The MSU Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs placed second among gardens that receive 10,000 to 100,000 visitors annually. Personnel at the station represent the MSU Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
With 75 AAS winning varieties incorporated into the 30 raised beds and a three-tiered hexagonal mound, this AAS Display Garden is the focal point of MSU's Fall Flower and Garden Fest each October.
According to the AAS news release, the judges were "taken away with the beauty and tidiness of the garden," as well as the creativity of the fountain bed, which this year flowed with cascading flowers rather than water.
"The recognition from All-America Selections affirms our efforts to display plants that perform well in Mississippi landscapes," said Rick Snyder, Extension Service vegetable specialist and Experiment Station researcher at the Truck Crops Branch.
Sherry Surrette, head of the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond, oversees the Truck Crops station, which was established in 1938.
"The station concentrates on production of field-grown and greenhouse vegetables, annual and perennial ornamental crops, fruits and pecans," she said. "With 175 acres of rolling land, it is the largest research station dedicated to horticulture in the MSU system."
Surrette said the team that brings the station into form includes Snyder, Shaun Broderick, Bill Evans, Clay Cheroni, Matthew Bates and Peter Hudson, along with his crew.
"These Extension and Experiment Station horticulturists listen to commercial growers and home gardeners as they design and plant our gardens each year," Surrette said. "Without their efforts, the Fall Flower and Garden Fest would not continue to attract thousands of visitors every year."
The fall fest is the largest home gardening show in the Southeast with average attendance of 5,000 people over the two-day event. Featured in the 3-acre garden are winners of the prestigious All-America Selections award.
Other recipients of the AAS honors in MSU's category included the first-place winner, Noelridge Park Gardens in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the third-place winner, which was a garden in Quebec, Canada.