In the District
Two camelliajaponica(Professor Sargent) bushes were moved from near the foundation of the Clarendon County Courthouse in early December to two more prominent positions in front of the two towering live oak trees that stand as sentinels to the Courthouse.
The Professor Sargent camellias have been around for centuries and are considered a “true heritage plant” that is a favorite among Southern gardeners. The Professor Sargent camellia can grow as tall as 12 feet. It features dark, glossy green leaves that are thick and leathery. The bush has single round flowers that are an intense scarlet color.
The two camellias that were moved stand well over seven feet tall and date back to local historian Jim Sprott’s father who planted almost three-dozen of the camellias at what is now the rear of the courthouse in the 40s.
In 1989, Hugo came along and destroyed most of the shrubbery at the courthouse including heavily damaging the live oaks that stand in front of the majestic building.
The Clarendon Council of Garden Clubs attempted to restore the courthouse grounds to its former splendor and they were able to save a handful of the camellias and planted them around the foundation of the courthouse.
In the spring of 2013, county officials voted to renovate the courthouse, which included removing shrubbery from the area around the courthouse’s foundation. In an effort to save part of the county’s history, the Clarendon Council of Garden Clubs decided to move two of the camellias to prominent positions at the front of the courthouse grounds.
Moving the camellias came at a time that the President of the Garden Club of South Carolina Judith Dill unveiled her platform for her two-year tenure as president – Historic Trees, Historic Places.
Dill wanted the garden clubs across the state to identify historic trees and shrubs and enlighten the communities on why keeping decades and centuries old trees is so important.
On Jan. 15, the Clarendon Council of Garden Clubs held a ceremony commemorating the move and invited Dill to attend the event.
“Betty Johnson with the Azalea Garden Club clipped and rooted some of those older camellias,” Marie Land, also a member of the AGC, told those at the ceremony. “This is the product of those clippings.”
“This is exactly what I wanted,” Dill told the garden club members. “I was so hopeful for everyone who did this. You have done a beautiful job.”
Dill asked each of the garden clubs present to go home, get a neighbor, or a friend and have everyone think of five historic trees or shrubs that need to be recognized in the Historic Trees, Historic Places project.
Land said that members of her club and other clubs in the county were already thinking of other trees and areas that would qualify for the designation.