Will 2014 be the year of the tree? Perhaps it should be

betsjukofsky@aol.comJanuary 5, 2014 

The Talbird Live Oak can be seen at the back gate of Hilton Head Plantation.

PHOTO BY LARRY JUKOFSKY

  • HISTORIC TREES/HISTORIC PLACES IN THE LOWCOUNTRY

    Board-certified arborist Michael Murphy will share his historic tree survey and photographs about our area's legacy of historic trees and places at 1 p.m. Jan. 13, Hilton Head Public Service meeting room, 21 Oak Park Drive, Hilton Head Island. Murphy was formerly associated with Bartlett Tree Service Tree Service and is the owner of Preservation Tree Care. The presentation is sponsored by the Hilton Head Island Garden Club.

Going back through mail received last year, I found that there were more queries about trees than any other garden related subject.

It set me to thinking: Shouldn't we be planting more trees to replace the ones being removed for development? Recently, there were oaks removed from a building site on Hilton Head Island. When the building was completed, palm trees were planted in the frontage. This was upsetting to many island residents.

A letter from a resident in the UK, who visits Hilton Head regularly with his family, wished to know if there is a place on the island where he could plant a memory tree for his mother. Others have asked also and, with the assistance of the Island Beautification Association and the Island Land Trust, there have been several planted in various locations. Most often, trees planted are on the historic tree list for our area.

Last year, the South Carolina Federation of Garden Clubs educated us to the history and value of historic trees in our state. A live oak growing in Cherry Hill Plantation in Burton was named the 2013 Heritage Tree. On Hilton Head at Honey Horn Plantation, Carlos Chacon looks after a Southern red cedar that is 419 years old; a Loblolly pine that is 115 years old and a sycamore that is 210 years old.

On Hilton Head Plantation, the Talbird Live Oak Tree can be admired as you exit the back gate. The tree was planted in the early 1700s.

We have historic trees in Beaufort County. Will they always be there? Throughout our county; storms, floods, fire and disease have destroyed, and in some cases, wiped out many large, old trees. Concerned citizens can help to replace these; the list of historic trees suitable for our area include large and small varieties of Loblolly bay; Yaupon holly; Golden rain tree, magnolia, white pine; sycamore and red cedar.

I don't get swoony over a sycamore. What turns me on is the blue/green, soft to the touch foliage of a Southern red cedar tree. No falling leaves to clean up, beautiful all year and the perfect outdoor Christmas tree.

Southern Arbor Day 2013 found us tree huggers at Historic Fort Howell, as we added history with the planting of the Southern red cedar tree. And some celebration it was, as the bus arrived with the 21 students of teacher Lisa Riker's fifth-grade class from the Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts. With the help of Principal Gretchen Keefner, the students presented their exhibits of trees with illustrations and comments. Contest winners were: Mike Comejo, Emily Gaddy and Jack Lewis.

Arbor Day co-chairman Beth Evans thanked Steve Tennant, president of Island Beautification Association; Land Trust representative Marty Holcutt; Suzy Baldwin of the Hilton Head Island Garden Council; and Nick Duffy and Bartlett Tree Service for donating and planting the tree. Duffy planted the tree with the students' help and with instructions not to plant too deep. Once the tree takes hold, it does not need a lot of water.

My favorite photographer, Sandy Stern, describes live oak trees as "living historians."

With their majestic beauty, enormous stature and great longevity, the live oaks of Beaufort County embody the power and wonder of nature. Their roots reach across centuries to reveal and preserve the history of the Lowcountry and its people. Their limbs embrace generations of memories -- from duels of horror fought by gentlemen of old, to modern adventures crafted by children at play, from tragic events to joyful ceremonies. Their leaves that continually fall and sprout anew, foretell a future certain to be witnessed by these hardy, yet gentle giants that have seen so much.

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