Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you visit the website Charlotte Tree Plan and read about the benefits of urban trees you’ll be encouraged to plant the largest shade tree possible in your yard this fall. For us, fall is the best time to add new trees and shrubs to our landscape, the roots can grow during the winter making the plant stronger when next summer’s hot weather rolls around.  At the Charlotte Tree Plan page, you’ll see the many benefits residents of the Queen City receive from their urban forest.

Inchworms a Threat?

Sep 7, 2017

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. We enjoyed the solar eclipse from the comfort of our Saint Matthews yard. Although lots of people searched out and set up camp in open fields, I’m not a sun lover and we simply  made periodic forays from our  covered porch out into an  open area of the front yard to observe the progress of the blackout. Numerous shade trees help keep our eighteen eighties home cool, a  value familiar to residents of cities with active urban tree programs.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Making It Grow gets lots of calls from Charlotte, right up the road in North Carolina. Charlotte is rightfully proud of its urban tree program and the City does a lot to protect its valuable tree canopy, which provides numerous benefits to its citizens. As we watch the devastation from Hurricane Harvey, it should serve as an encouragement for all of us to plant trees in our urban areas.

The trunk of a Hercules Club tree, in Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Chesapeake Bay Program [CC BY-NC 2.0], via Flickr

Hercules Club tree, also known as a devil's walking stick or prickly ash, at Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge on Virginia's Eastern Shore.

A flowering Chinaberry tree.
Paolo Fisicaro, via Wikimedia Commons

Chinaberry trees are in flower. These non-native plants were often planted in the 19th century on home sites.

Redbud Tree
Dcrjsr [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A listener who is new to South Carolina asks, is this tree native or invasive.

These Seeds Have Wings

Apr 3, 2017
A Silver Maple Samara
USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab via Flickr

The Silver Maple Tree's seeds have samaras, "wings" that help the seeds travel on the wind.

When you bring your Christmas tree in from the outdoors you may find some hidden hitchhikers.

Post Oaks

Dec 22, 2016

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson extension and Making It Grow. There are two magnificent post oaks, Quercus stellata, growing in the yard of an abandoned house in St. Matthews that I admire for their incredible character.  Post oaks are in the white oak family but have their own distinctive appearance as they are gnarly, open in habit, with twisted branches.

Happy Arbor Day!

Dec 2, 2016
Stock photo of a tree.

The date for Arbor Day varies across climate zones.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has fact sheets that give detailed and fascinating information about native plants. An extremely comprehensive resource, it begins with a thorough description of the entire plant. Most interesting to me is the history of its uses by native people and others for medicinal and utilitarian purposes.

The Groundsel Tree

Sep 26, 2016
A Groundsel Tree
Homer Edward Price/Flickr

The Groundsel Tree, sometimes call a Sea Myrtle, is spreading across South Carolina.

A Tamarisk tree in Israel.
Ian Scott, via Wikimedia Commons

  The Tamarisk tree is sometimes called the "Salt Cedar" or the "Fire Cedar," and originated in the Mediterranean.

Flowers of the sourwood tree
Jim Conrad [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

  Sourwood is a native species that is widespread. And, its flowers are beautiful!

Tulip Trees

May 12, 2016
A tulip tree in bloom.

The tulip tree is sometimes called "tulip poplar," though it's actually related to the magnolia.

A flowering Chinaberry tree.
Paolo Fisicaro, via Wikimedia Commons

  The chinaberry tree seems to be everywhere in South Carolina, especially around older homestead. It's natvie to India, Pakistan, and western China, but was introduced here for use as a shade tree.

Sawtooth Oak leaves
Daderot [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

The Sawtooth Oak is a non-native species that has been introduced to the United States.

Osage Orange Trees

A transplant from Oklahoma/Arkansas/Texas, this tree, though not common in South Carolina, can sometimes be found around 19th century home sites. 

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Plant snobs, yes, even the kindest and sweetest of gardeners have their moments of human frailty, often complain about people who prune their boxwoods and hollies into “little green meatballs.”  This practice is harmful as it requires a constant battle against the natural shape of those species. If only these persons would consider planting some of the “globular” cultivars of Thuja occidentalis. This native tree which reaches forty feet or more in nature has been tweaked by plant breeders and now comes in such wonderfully named cultivars as “Mr. Bowling Ball. Hetz Midget is a light green ball-shape of the same size. Thujas  naturally assume a globe or pyramid shape which is attractive and, if properly selected for mature size, require little pruning. In South Carolina, sadly, their use is limited by the fact that deer absolutely adore them. 

Eastern Red Cedars

Jan 4, 2016

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Common names are really confusing when we start to talk about cedars. In South Carolina, Eastern red cedar used to be the ”go to Christmas tree”, despite the fact that they are prickly as the devil. Their leaves are tightly clasped scales when mature (the even more prickly juvenile plants have needles) – –Their scientific name is juniperus virginiana. Red cedars grow in 37 states and are resistant to drought, cold, disease, and just about everything else. They also have great value to wildlife for both shelter andx food., Sadly, they’ve fallen out of favor and people plant Leyland Cypress instead – a tree unsuited to the south and prone to all sorts of deadly diseases. Cedrus is the genus considered the true cedars native to the middle and far east, And are the the cedars referred to in ancient writings, including the Bible.

Shademaster Honey Locust
USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Since we southerners are so interested in family names, let’s examine the history of the name for SHADEMASTER honey LOCUST Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis 'Shademaster' . The genus name, Gleditsia, honors the German botanist of the 18th century named Gottlieb Gleditsch. Now the fun begins – triacanthos means “three spines” referring to the spines that grow out of the trunks of most honeylocust trees.

Honey Locust pods
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. My favorite professor at Clemson, Dr. David Bradshaw, told wonderful stories about his grandfather who was a true naturalist just from living a life so connected to the land and knowing so many uses for the plants and animals found near his home. When we studied honeylocust, gleditsia triacanthos, David told us that the sweet substance found lining the pods that gives rise to the honey part of the common name had such a high sugar content that his grandfather used it to make beer.

Thorns of the Honey Locust tree
Rei at the English language Wikipedia

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you’re in one of the great swampy areas in South Carolina and the water starts to rise or a feral hog is chasing you, for the love of Pete do not climb a Gleditsia aquatica, or swamp locust. Dr. John Nelson recently brought photographs of this tree, found in wet places in the SE as well as his back yard, to the show for a mystery plant. It has clusters of fierce, sharp, long spines growing out of the trunk and would be impossible to safely climb.

If you cut your own Christmas tree, be careful--there may be "packages" in the tree!

Cedars of Lebanon

Dec 19, 2014

Cedars of Lebanon

Conifers for Winter decorations: Japanese False Cypress trees.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow! Another member of the bean family that also gets called “locust” in its common name is Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia. Like honey locust, it has compound leaves and is armed but with small prickles that are less dangerous than thorns on honey locust trees. Black locust is strikingly beautiful in flower as it looks like a white wistaria with drooping clusters of white fragrant blossoms.   This tree is very adaptable – Dr.