PCC protects rare trees on campus

Certified Arborist Canty Worley has been hard at work at the Peggy Crosby Center campus maintaining several trees that include both heritage (old), and rare (endangered) trees. One of the rare trees is a Franklinia located in the front yard of the PCC at 348 S. 5th Street. The Franklinia species was discovered by botanists John and William Bartram. Also being treated is the large European silver fir located in the side parking lot.

Maintenance includes aeration, administering liquid fertilizer deep into the root system, addressing some hardscape issues and maintaining a pollinator garden. All plants added to the campus are native.

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Certified arborist Canty Worley pumps liquid fertilizer deep into the root system of a rare Franklinia tree.

“I’m just giving them a tree booster,” said Worley. “It feels really good to pay attention to them (trees) and maintaining these trees is really important to the board of directors (PCC).”

He added that the liquid fertilizer used on the trees’ root system is a living agent or a “compost tea” that will continue working long after it was administered.

“It becomes part of the soil-food and it enlightens the soil,” he said.

The visit from Worley is made possible through a grant from the Laurel Garden Club in Highlands. For the past six years LGC has awarded approximately more than $29,000.00 to the PCC, said Lila Howland, co-chair of the grants committee.

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The pollinator garden on the Peggy Crosby Center campus helps provide habitat for wildlife.

“Laurel Garden Club supports and promotes natural landscape plans that use native plants and includes an educational component,” said Howland. “The PCC submitted a request for such a plan and we were/are enthusiastic about helping them achieve their goal.”

Since 2002 LGC has awarded over $157, 000 to the community in grants. The amount distributed each year is dependent on the profits from LGC’s Kitchen Tours and the sales of a cookbook, Celebrate Highlands (now out of print), which equals approximately $15,000 per year.

“We live in and love our community and have a strong commitment to promoting good ecological and environmental practices,” said Howland. “So many of our native plant species are disappearing, along with the insects, birds, clean air and water that they support.”

She added that LGC and the Mountain Garden Club sponsored the organization now known as Land Stewards of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau to preserve native plants.

“This group has now evolved to be a major promoter and protector of native plants and advocate for the control of non-native invasive species, and includes members and organizations from many environmental sectors of the community that share the same concerns,” said Howland.


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An old European silver fir in the Peggy Crosby Center’s parking lot.

PCC Property Manager James Plemmons said LGC has supported the PCC’s landscape plan for years and said LGC is always helpful and looks at the plans to make sure they fit in with the aesthetic of Highlands.

“They (LGC) have limited funds and we feel very honored to be one of the groups they support,” said Plemmons.

Howland said when LGC awards grants to organizations, they closely monitor the use of funds.

“Indeed, we do monitor the progress and use of the grant money, by observing the progress and keeping in touch with the key people involved,” said Howland. “I and others on the grants committee drive through the PCC and walk about several times a month. We do not hesitate to step in with suggestions if we think they are necessary. This is true of all our grant projects.”

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A rare Franklinia tree next to the sign at the Peggy Crosby Center.

Worley said not only is the PCC board preserving the trees, but passing by the PCC is a main thoroughfare for children walking home from school. The sidewalk runs past the pollinator garden and is made up of all native plants and provides habitat for wild life.

“We want to teach them about natural habitats,” said Worley. “Hopefully they can see the importance of it and get a better understanding of this.”

Howland said the PCC’s landscape plan is a good example of organizations doing what they can to conserve the area.

“Our community is blessed with a number of organizations dedicated to preserving the environmental integrity of these mountains,” said Howland. “Blessed is the word, and we all work together for the good of the common cause of keeping this plateau the pristine and naturally abundant paradise it still is.”

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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