Spartanburg Community College's horticulture department has been busy practicing cutting-edge horticulture again.
The dynamic trio of Jason Bagwell, Kevin Parris and Jay Moore will unveil its new garden called the Louie Phillips Memorial Xeric Garden during an upcoming arboretum event. “An Arboretum Is Like a Box of Chocolates” will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Tracy J. Gaines Building Auditorium. At 5:30 there will be a tour of the new xeric garden followed by a 6 p.m. presentation of summer garden journeys. Dinner will follow the presentation.
Tickets are available at $30 for a single ticket and $50 for two tickets and can be purchased by calling 864-909-4654, emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting www.scc.edu/arboretum. All proceeds will benefit the SCC Arboretum Fund and the Jimmy Painter Horticulture Scholarship Fund.
Phillips was a horticulturalist who was beloved by all who worked with him. He died several years ago, and the SCC staff wanted to honor his memory by naming the new garden after him.
The new xeric garden has been added to the already existing International Peace Garden, The Plant Zoo, The Medicinal Garden, The Train Garden, and the Cabeana Gardena.
Xeric garden means it is a dry habitat — “low” water and not “no” water, as most people believe. The site was chosen for its poor drainage.
“We used a smart irrigation
controller to monitor this garden,” Moore said. “We (put in) all kinds
of data, such as the slope of the land, temperature ranges, soil type
and plant types that will be used. This controller adjusts the water
schedule based on evaporative transpiration.” The SCC team is focused on
eco-responsibility. Evaporative transpiration is the measurement of
water loss and evaporation from plants. It measures what is lost from
the soil and plants.
Nevada they encourage the use of these smart controllers, as they would
much rather the money go to using them rather than being irresponsible
with water usage. The theme of this xeric garden is Southwestern. There
is no humidity in the Southwest, and needless to say we have an excess
of it here in the South. Bagwell thinks the plants will survive here
with the proper drainage.
of the work for the xeric garden went into the drainage system. It took
one year to properly prepare the soil and install the multi-flow
underground drainage system. The beds are actually raised beds in the
shape of a wagon wheel. First they trenched the area and backfilled it
with sand. They used two sizes of stone, and then geotextile fabric to
keep the fine particle aggregate in place.
raised beds were built over this. They used an air spade to break up
the hard, packed soil. An air spade is a tool used with an air
compressor that forces puffs of air into the ground at a very high
speed. This does not damage the roots of existing trees and other
shrubs. Power companies use this technology to trench around trees. All
of this was necessary so the plants would not drain improperly and wind
that have been used are Southwestern. There are lots of agaves,
ornamental grasses, succulents and herbaceous perennials. To top off the
plants, they used compost and pine bark fines.
To complete the garden, Parris used the new Buffalo grass that forms a kind of skirt around the raised beds. To prepare the bed, they used a quarter of an inch of western pozzolan, which is a soil amendment. Its purpose is to loosen up clay particles they air spaded and till the soil. They planted 1,080 separate plugs of this new Buffalo grass that was bred by the University of Nebraska. This is a trial for our area. Buffalo grass is supposed to be able to grow well in heavy clay soils and high humidity while using less water than fescue or Bermuda.
The final goal of the xeric garden is to add an unusual water feature that mimics rain harvesting system overflow from gutters. It will be decorative and will be used to water the plants as well. It will run through the irrigation system and come back down from the roof.
The department needs additional funds to complete the water feature and would welcome any donations to the SCC Foundation Fund, specifically tagged for the arboretum.
Bagwell, Parris and Moore are doing innovative things with little or no funding. They are cutting-edge. Pay attention, because they are going places.
The Spartanburg Men's Garden Club plant sale will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the SCC horticulture gardens. You can get $10 off a $100 sale. For a complete plant list, visit www.dirtdaubers.org.
The SCC Horticulture Plant sale will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. There will be shrubs, perennials, grasses and pansies for sale.
Photo caption: The new Spartanburg Community College Louie Phillips Memorial Xeric Garden is designed in the shape of a wagon wheel. Alex C. Hicks Jr./email@example.com