View article as it appears on PlantsMap.com
Kevin Parris often reminds his students in the horticulture program at Spartanburg
(SC) Community College how lucky they are to study within a short drive of five arboreta.
I tell them every year, you can t go to a university in this country that has access
to the grounds that we do within a stone s throw and see mature tree specimens, Parris
In addition to the Spartanburg Community College Arboretum that Parris oversees on
SCC s campus, he can also take students to the Milliken Arboretum at the Roger Milliken
Center, the Roger Milliken Arboretum at Wofford College, the Hatcher Garden & Woodland
Preserve and the Susan Jacobs Arboretum on the campus of the University of South Carolina
These five entities have collectively referred to their community as Arboretaville
at times. We know we ve got kind of a hidden treasure, Parris said.
Three of these arboreta Milliken Arboretum, Spartanburg Community College and Wofford
College maintain active profiles on Plants Map, and continue to load plants to those
profiles because of the potential to reach more visitors, students and supporters.
How did Spartanburg, S.C. end up with such a rich collection of arboreta? Parris points
to one man.
Roger Milliken (1915 2010), CEO of the Spartanburg-headquartered Milliken & Company
from 1947 until 2005, understood how nature could serve as a visual representation
of his company s commitment to environmentally responsible manufacturing.
The effects of that philosophy reached beyond his own 600-acre corporate campus into
the wider Spartanburg community.
He was able over the course of his life to encourage the business community to upgrade
their landscapes, Parris said. Anybody who wanted to be in Mr. Milliken s circle and
follow his lead wanted to do good landscaping.
Milliken & Company s Paul Pruitt said that when new schools or other public improvement
projects were in the works around the city, He would take an active role in donating
or supporting landscaping for that project. His enthusiasm for public improvement
encouraged others to follow his lead.
Green Vase Japanese Zelkova
The 600-acre Roger Milliken Center campus is one of the largest corporate greenspaces
in the Southeast.
A former peach orchard, the land has been meticulously cared for and managed since
the campus was started in 1958 an age before sustainability and environmentally certified
practices were on many businesses radars.
The campus includes a 300-acre arboretum that is open to the public. Milliken & Company
even added an extra lane to a public road to accommodate the vehicles of visitors
coming to stroll the grounds, run the 5k trail or feed the ducks and fish in some
of the ponds on campus.
Pruitt says one of the most striking aspects of the arboretum is not only its variety,
with 500 different trees and shrubs, but also the large groupings of mature specimens,
which create a visual impact visitors don t soon forget.
Along one entrance, two rows of Shawnee Brave Bald Cypress create a scenic avenue.
Forty Green Vase Japanese Zelkova dating to the late 1980s delineate another walkway
on campus. They are absolutely gorgeous, Pruitt says.
Milliken Chinese Elm
The Milliken Chinese elm, a cultivar named for Milliken himself, is evidence of the
man s enthusiasm for trees and the role they can play in beautifying the environments
of everyday life.
Some of the trees at the Milliken Arboretum came from a partnership with Oregon-based
J. Frank Schmidt & Sons nursery. Starting in 1989, the nursery shipped 30 or so trees
to Milliken each year to see how they fared in Spartanburg s climate.
One of the most recent recommendations from Schmidt & Sons is a grouping of 58 Emerald
City tulip trees, bred for their slender, straight trunks. These were planted in 2012.
Pruitt said the Roger Milliken Center campus is an example of the company s approach
to sustainability. Our emphasis on sustainability has helped position us as a company
known for doing good, he said. Milliken & Company has been included for the past 11
years on Ethisphere Institute s list of the World s Most Ethical Companies.
The company composts food waste from its cafeteria and diverts nearly all waste from
its campuses worldwide from landfills.
The arboretum at its Spartanburg headquarters is one very visible example of that
commitment. We have designed the arboretum to be around for generations to come, Pruitt
said, as a reflection of the impact we have on the world.
That impact also extends to the local community. The entire campus of Wofford College
was named the Roger Milliken Arboretum in 2008, because of the Milliken s service
to the school. If you look at that campus, you see a number of tributes to his legacy,
Planting for the future
At Spartanburg Community College, Parris considers his entire campus to be the school
s arboretum. I ve got faculty who ask, Where s the arboretum? I say, You re in it,
His presence on campus taking pictures of plants to add to the school s Plants Map
profile, and his ability to share this Web-based record of the campus landscape, has
helped him build awareness, he said. It s really half a century of student projects
that continues to grow, he said. We draw our inspiration from botanic gardens and
put as much of the diversity we see in the region on campus.
Parris is completing a dissertation on the hybridization of magnolias, and has added
many to the SCC arboretum. It s my intent to have more taxa of magnolia in our collection
than any location in the country, he said. He has organized those on campus into their
own collection on Plants Map.
Through his involvement with the Magnolia Society, Parris has brought visitors to
his campus from Japan, Korea, Vietnam, China, England, the Netherlands and France.
For both visitors and community residents, Parris and Pruitt both said the concentration
of arboreta in Spartanburg are a true asset to the community. We feel pretty strongly
that the arboreta really encourage our community to explore the outdoors and engage
in active living, Pruitt said. It really tangibly represents the entire community
s commitment to the environment.
To learn more, follow Spartanburg Community College Arboretum, Milliken & Company
and Wofford College on Plants Map.