This afternoon, landscape designer Margaret Woods led a stroll through a portion of the newly-designated Sewanee Arboretum, pointing out special favorites among the plants, with emphasis on those that are useful in landscaping. Margaret is devoted to planting natives whenever possible. “Out native trees, plants, animals, and insects have all evolved together. They need each other for more reasons than we know,” she explained.
Among the many plants, we admired sycamore in its “desert camouflage” bark; sourwood with its inflorescence that “looks like a woman holding out her hand to be kissed.” The Indians taught the early settlers about the virtues of eating serviceberries; and the bark of American beech looks like an elephant’s hide. Yes, it does!
At one point, Margaret declared, “I’m going to put on my best sales hat to tell you about the virtues of one of my favorite plants – silverbell!” A truly stunning plant, it’s especially beautiful in the spring when it’s adorned with 1” white bell-shaped flowers.
One walk participant, Brad Dethero, was a Natural Resources major, Sewanee class of 1989. Now a forester in Alabama, he pointed out a trio of sugar maples that he and others planted in Manigault Park back in 1989 in memory of classmate Zack Hayslip, who had died while a student. Actually, they had planted four trees; only three survive. They are all doing well.
It was a fun and educational walk that we all hope Margaret will repeat this spring when we can admire these plants at a different phase of their annual cycle.