ADC's landscape architects have designed the landscaping for many popular spots in the Lowcountry like Mt. Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park, Buist Academy, Northbridge Park, the Cigar Factory, the College of Charleston, The Citadel, Roper Hospital and many more.
In celebration of Arbor Day our LA team tells us a little about the trees they love the most.
But it was a tough decision. Like "choosing a favorite child," one of our landscape designers said.
From the people that spend their days making our communities beautiful, here are their favorite trees and why.
Warren Pruitt has over 30 years of experience in designing landscapes. Warren tells us a little about his favorite tree.
"My favorite tree is the State Tree of South Carolina, the Palmetto (Sabal palmetto). The Palmetto is an excellent selection as State Tree other than the fact it is not a tree and generally does not grow in the upstate (although there are some up there).
Palmettos are best used to bring attention to certain areas of the site like a front door and they are very effective at breaking the mass of a large building, especially when used in groups. They are also excellent at establishing a Lowcountry character and are excellent street trees in an urban environment."
Warren shares some tidbits about the palmetto:
- Palmettos grow slowly. I have heard that in the wild they typically grow only 1/8” per year.
- Palmettos are ancient plants dating back to before the dinosaurs.
- Palmettos are considered New World palms in that they are generally only found in the Western Hemisphere. Interestingly, a fossil palmetto frond was found in Slovakia.
- If you were around during Hurricane Hugo (1989) then you may remember, the palmetto was about the only plant that came out generally unscathed. During the storm I saw some bent almost to the ground and they are fine to this day.
- Palmettos can stop cannonballs. Keep this in mind if feuding with neighbors. General Moultrie took this to heart.
The southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) is Bryant Stowe's favorite tree for reasons that anyone in the south would agree with.
"The southern live oak is picturesque; the way the branches droop and curve as they get older, and especially when draped in Spanish Moss. It provides ample shade for just one tree because of how large the canopy gets and it's tough. The oak has survived hurricanes and has very few pest or disease problems. Even more importantly, it can tolerate most parking lot conditions."
Bryant's fun facts about the southern oak:
- The southern oak is found all across the lower coastal plains from Virginia to south Florida. It grows in sandy soil near the coast, along streams, in the woods, and parking lots.
- It's a very strong tree and long living.
- It's a semi-evergreen tree so it drops leaves in early spring. I call it the second fall in the Lowcountry because there are so many live oak trees and leaves are everywhere.
- The canopy of the tree is wider than it is tall which makes for a great shade tree.
Fred Guthier, who works in our Greenville office, tells us his favorite tree is the saucer magnolia.
"The saucer magnolia is a landscape show-stopper. The stunning early spring blossoms have been said to open “like a thousand porcelain goblets,” and lush summertime leaves are dark green and leathery—adding nice contrast to silvery-gray bark. One of the most popular flowering trees in the United States, the saucer magnolia is also widely planted in Europe."
Fred tells us more about the saucer magnolia that dates back to the early 19th-century:
- The saucer magnolia is a hybrid cousin of America's magnificent Southern Magnolia. The saucer magnolia is actually a large spreading shrub that take its name from its wide, saucer-like flowers. It was first cultivated in 1826.
- Many of the shrubs and trees from the Magnoliaceae family have been existent for millions of years, while the Saucer Magnolia is a hybrid created by man. The creator of the saucer magnolia was Etienne Soulange-Bodin. He was a Parisian soldier turned horticulturist that cross-bred plants.
- Often called a tulip magnolia because of it's attractive pink and white flowers that resemble tulips. The flowers are 5–10" in diameter and bloom in late February to April.
- The saucer magnolia grows in a rounded shape to a height of 20–30' and a spread of around 25' at maturity.
The white fringe tree is Kristina Harvey's favorite tree.
"The white fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) is a small, understory tree that blooms and changes color in the fall. It's on my wish list for my own yard."
Kristina's facts about the white fringe tree:
- The white fringe tree is one of the most beautiful native trees to the Lowcountry and is a great ornamental specimen tree with showy white flowers and light fragrance.
- Its botanical name translates as snow flower, which is an excellent depiction of the clusters of white blooms covering the tree each spring. The tree's hanging white blooms also inspired its nickname "old man's beard.
- White fringe tree plants well with shrub borders or in natural gardens.
- It's strong branches rarely need pruning unless only a single trunk form is desired. They are often used in commercial landscape designs because they are tolerate pollution, mixed soils and don't need much maintenance.
- It's bark has been known to be used in tonics as a diuretic and fever reducer.
On this Arbor Day, take some time today to celebrate trees.
Whether you plant a tree to add to your home's landscape, prune an existing tree to make it healthier, or just enjoy a tree by planning a picnic under its canopy, be thankful for the beauty and many benefits trees bring to our communities.
If you want more information from our landscape architecture team, please contact us.