Layla Manning has kept an eye on the dirt mound at the city of Beaufort's Freedom Mall all summer. She got excited when wheelbarrows appeared Thursday morning.
Beaufort got its Christmas tree back.
"It's darling. It's little, but that's OK," she said. "I'm so glad it's back. It's such a big part of the tradition for downtown and Night on the Town."
A crew from The Greenery planted the 15-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide green giant arborvitae to replace the diseased Leyland cypress removed this summer. That tree had seiridium canker, a fungus common to the species, and was removed and the ground treated.
On the advice of Clemson University Extension, a hardier species that will not be affected by the disease was selected as the replacement. It will grow about two or three feet a year and could reach 60 feet tall and 20 feet wide, according to Jerry Ashmore, Beaufort branch manager for The Greenery.
The green giant is not native to the area, but it grows well in the soil and weather of Beaufort and needs little maintenance, according to Ashmore.
Planting a smaller tree and allowing it to root firmly in the ground is better than placing a large tree at Freedom Mall, public works director Isiah Smalls said.
"You can put a large tree in there, but it's not stable, and you're right up there by Waterfront Park where there's a lot of wind," he said.
The Leyland cypress was only about six feet tall when it was planted in the late 1990s, he said.
"This one is going to grow into being a really nice tree," he said. "This one is fast-growing, so it won't be small for long."
Public works employees have already started decorating for the holiday season and are wrapping 150 light poles in Beaufort with festive lights as their schedule permits.
The Christmas tree will be one of the final things decorated, so it has time to settle in before anything is hung on it, Smalls said.
All decorations will be in place before the annual Night on the Town celebration and tree lighting Dec. 7.
Manning said she can't wait to bring her 3-year-old son, Logan Chase, for the lighting of the tree this year and in subsequent years.
"It'll grow up as my little boy grows up," she smiled and said.