south atlantic

Botanic Notables: Florida's 'The Senator' Cypress

February 10, 2012
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Last month, a fire destroyed an ancient tree in central Florida. At 3,500 years old, the Senator was one of the oldest bald cypress trees in the world, and, at 118 feet, one of the tallest east of the Mississippi. The tree was already 3,000 years old when Ponce de Leon named the land La Florida and it was a popular tourist attraction long before Walt Disney built his theme parks.

Botanic Notables: The Tree That Owns Itself

February 03, 2012
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In a small neighborhood park in Athens, Georgia, is a large white oak (Quercus alba) with unprecedented legal status and a legendary epithet. Known as "The Tree That Owns Itself," the oak was famously granted legal ownership of itself, and the plot of land within 8 feet of its base. The tree has become fodder for legal discussion—can a tree really own itself?

Poetry of Gardening

August 12, 2011
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Anne Spencer, one of the few women writers associated with the 1920s’ Harlem Renaissance literary movement, lived in Lynchburg, Virginia where she practiced her other art, gardening.

Earth, I Thank You
Earth, I thank you
for the pleasure of your language
You’ve had a hard time
bringing it to me
from the ground
to grunt thru the noun
To all the way
Feeling seeing smelling touching
—awareness
I am here!

Touring Georgia's Callaway Gardens

June 01, 2010
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After nine years of trying to carve out time to come to Callaway Gardens in Georgia, I'm here. Had I toured the gardens on my own, I would never have seen it all: there are gardens growing throughout the enormous 2,500-acre site, and if you don't know where you're going, you'll probably miss some. As it was, I made the rounds with new Director of Gardens Patricia Collins, who was just promoted after 40 years on staff.

Pearl Fryar's Sculpted Trees

October 21, 2008
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Part folk artist, though with a surrealistic bent, and part Edward Scissorhands, though without the angst, topiary creator extraordinaire Pearl Fryar is the humblest celebrity you'll ever meet, quietly plying his craft at his modest home in the unlikely location of Bishopville, South Carolina. The end result is anything but low-key. Fryar's sculpted trees populate a living wonderland that has been visited by everyone from renowned British garden expert Rosemary Verey to groups of local school children.