News Item

The Greening of Lander: University and Garden Clubs Celebrate Arbor Day

December 09, 2016

Lander University ushered in Arbor Day, Friday, Dec. 2, with the planting of a weeping yellowwood tree donated by the Greenwood Council of Garden Clubs (GCGC).

 About 50 guests and students gathered for the ceremony at the young tree, planted near the Grier Student Center in the university’s Moran Plaza courtyard. JoAnn Purkerson, chair of Arbor Day activities for the council, noted that Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska in 1872, the same year that Lander was founded as Williamston Female College.

A 1960 Lander graduate, Purkerson recalled that the Lander campus was an oasis of green when she first arrived on campus in 1957.

“By 1948, Lander had passed from Methodist support to support by The Lander Foundation, and then to support by Greenwood County,” said Purkerson. “During that time, women’s garden clubs took on the task of planting and caring for the college grounds.

For almost three decades, the women could be seen digging and weeding as they fulfilled their vision for the campus landscape. When Lander became a state college in 1973, the women hung up their shovels and gloves, and turned the landscaping over to the college grounds crew.”

Purkerson noted that the late Angelle Adams was one of the most faithful volunteer gardeners during the days before state support.

“Angelle didn’t mind getting her hands dirty,” said Purkerson. “She was an inspiration to all the garden clubs.”

In 2006, GCGC began donating a tree for Arbor Day planting on the Lander campus. Now, the council is celebrating its eleventh planting, with the Lander grounds crew handling the spadework.

Individual clubs also do their part in beautifying Greenwood educational facilities. Morning Glory Garden Club, which counts former Lander First Lady Marjorie Ball as a member, created and maintains a shade garden adjacent to Laura Lander Hall, the oldest building on the Lander campus.

Each year on Arbor Day, which is celebrated in South Carolina on the first Friday in December, Chrysanthemum Garden Club plants a red maple on the campus of Springfield Elementary. More than 15 of the maples currently grace its campus.

In welcoming guests to the tree planting at Lander, Charlotte Barmore, president of GCGC, stressed the importance of trees in home, civic and commercial landscapes.

Dr. Andrew Schwendemann, Lander assistant professor of biology and president of the university’s Arboretum Committee, gave an evolutionary perspective on trees, from their humble beginnings more than 400 million years ago to their present form and function. Along with oxygen production and air, soil and water purification, trees are a significant part of the economy, he said, providing lumber, paper, food and even medicine. Millions of acres of forest are cut down each year, he added, “so it is good to plant new trees to remind us of their importance and how our survival is linked to their survival.”

Greenwood horticulturist and Lander Arboretum Committee member John Elsley said the weeping yellowwood, the scientific name of which is Cladrastis kentukea ‘White Rain,’ is a rare and recent selection of the yellowwood. In ten years’ time, the tree should reach a height of about 20 feet, producing long, fragrant, white flowers in the spring and vibrant greenery in the summer. The autumn foliage, he said, is “stunning” and will add striking beauty to the fall campus landscape. There are also plans for additional yellowwoods, though not the weeping variety, to be planted nearby. 

Lander Arbor Day 2016

Greenwood Council of Garden Clubs (GCGC) and the Lander University Arboretum Committee recently held an Arbor Day celebration at Lander that included the planting of a weeping yellowwood tree on the campus grounds. Pictured with the tree are Lander students and members of the GCGC and Lander Arboretum Committee.