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Gardeners to see stars at fall flower, garden fest
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
You'll be seeing the stars of next year's gardens and landscapes if you are among the thousands expected to attend the 30th annual Fall Flower and Garden Fest Oct.17-18 at Mississippi State University's Truck Crops Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.
One of the stars is really a Constellation. Constellation is a new seed-produced variety of dwarf sunflower. The 6-inch flowers bloom in abundance on plants that reach 12-20 inches tall in containers or 36 inches tall in the garden.
MSU has this free-flowering selection planted among hot new Belgian mums loaded with hundreds of flowers and some of the flashiest new coleus to hit the market in years. You may think you've seen every coleus color, but several new varieties will have you eager for spring when you can dig in the dirt and plant once again.
One of the varieties you'll see is Indian Summer. This coleus is almost like a kaleidoscope of ever-changing red, orange, rust, cream and green. You'll see this coleus in the afternoon and swear it's a different color pattern than what you saw in the morning.
Mocha Mint is another that is sure to catch your eye. It is multi-colored with ducksfoot-type foliage that is green with mottled yellow and red flecks. One called Henna has leaves that can change from chartreuse to copper with deep serration. The undersides of the leaves are burgundy, giving a most unique look in the garden.
A while back, I wrote about the exploding popularity of patio vegetable gardening, which allows people to have some fresh produce without having a full-fledged garden. Bill Evans has put together a great display at the Truck Crops Experiment Station of these compact vegetables, and you can pick out what will work best for your deck or patio next spring.
MSU sponsors the annual event for garden and horticulture enthusiasts. Gates are open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and admission and parking are free. It is considered the largest home gardening show in the Southeast, and past Fall Flower and Garden Fests have averaged 6,000 participants over the two-day period.
“Let's Go Walkin' Mississippi” will open the fest on Friday with a one-mile fun walk at 9:30 a.m. Pedometers will be given to the first 300 walkers. The walk will be followed by an antique car parade featuring Model A and Model T cars dating from 1919 to 1926 to kick off the anniversary celebration.
Vendors from across the state will sell the hottest new plants, and wagon rides will be available throughout the fest. Guided walking tours will examine plant insects and diseases, adaptations for accessible gardening, mammal tracking, and the station's flower and vegetable gardens. Garden plots include banana trials; ethnic, shade, hummingbird and butterfly gardens; Mississippi Medallion winners; and All-America Selection winners.
Staff with MSU's Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will provide information and answer questions.
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.