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Plant Focus

Quercus peninsularis
A Red Oak (Section Lobatae) endemic to inland ranges of northern Baja California, Mexico

Aiken Oak and Horticultural Tour

Event Date: 
Friday, 1 November 2013 to Monday, 4 November 2013





Dear Friends,


I am proud to be partnering with the City of Aiken and the International Oak Society to bring you this 2013 Aiken Oak and Horticultural Tour. As a fellow tree and plant enthusiast, I am looking forward to sharing our community and our horticultural treasures with each of you. We proudly invite all IOS members and other horticultural notables to join us for this very special outing.


This will be along the lines of Oak Open Days. These popular events, basically field trips sponsored by the International Oak Society, have been held a number of times in Europe where they focus primarily on seeing and studying oaks in arboreta, private collections, and in their natural habitats. We are not planning formal meetings or lectures, however, we are featuring multiple tours. You will find the agenda and registration form in the two additional attachments.


While Aiken County, SC may have the most native oak species of any county in the United States, the City of Aiken has in cultivation what is believed to be the most comprehensive collection of oaks in the United States. A simple Oak Open Days event would certainly justify a visit to Aiken but it doesn’t stop there. Aiken’s Citywide Arboretum, rather than being a specific property, encompasses everything within a four mile radius of downtown including the 2000 acre Hitchcock Woods preserve. A mild climate, sandy soils, broad tree filled parkways, public parks and landscaped grounds, private gardens including large estates, diverse native flora, a long and rich horticultural history, and thirty plus years of rare tree and plant donations by Woodlanders, Inc. make Aiken a unique horticultural experience. Here you will find native and exotic trees and other plants including many not possible in colder regions and many others rarely seen even in arboreta and botanic gardens. In addition to our very special oak collection you will find great collections of Citrus, Crataegus, Lauraceae, Magnoliaceae, Theaceae, and many obscure groups all within reasonable walking distance of lodging, dining, and shopping.


The City of Aiken was chartered in 1835 and laid out by the new railroad connecting Charleston to Hamburg, once a town opposite Augusta, GA on the Savannah River. This railroad when completed in 1833 was the longest in the world. Aiken’s town plan included the broad tree filled parkways that today make Aiken so distinctive. Fountains and flowers grace the intersections with rich color and the verdant parkways divide the streets. A unique Aiken green space is the 2000 acre Hitchcock Woods. Practically in the middle of town this botanically diverse preserve is one of the nation’s largest urban forests. Equestrian activities are among Aiken’s foremost traditions and horses, riders, and carriages can usually be observed throughout. In addition to green spaces, you will find in historic Aiken, locally owned shops, chef-owned restaurants and cafes with tables and chairs outside where visitors enjoy the fresh air and ambiance. Of course, Aiken doesn't end downtown. Not far from the center of town is our bustling Southside where many recognized restaurants and hotels are located. We feel confident that you'll be intrigued with our beautiful city, our horticulture, and all of our amenities.


Please make your own travel arrangements and feel free to dine and shop as suits your tastes. Registrants can find more information including where to find dining, shopping, and convenient accommodations by visiting www.VisitAikenSC.com. Aiken has good interstate highway connections north, south, east, and west and airports in Augusta, GA and Columbia, SC are less than an hour distant. (Atlanta and Charlotte are 2 to 3 hours away.) The average temperatures in early November are pleasant, however a lightweight jacket may be needed during your visit.


For those with transportation and an extra day or two we can recommend interesting side trips to see the beautiful and diverse Riverbanks Botanical Garden in Columbia, the bottomland swamp forest with huge trees at Congaree National Park near Columbia, the surprising collection of palms, cycads, citrus, and other subtropical plants at Aquinas High School in Augusta, or any of several nearby state Natural Heritage Preserves. In Savannah, you can visit one of the most outstanding plant collections in the South at Armstrong-Atlantic State University.


Please complete our attached registration and return it as suggested. I’ll look forward to meeting all of you in November! Please feel free to contact me with regard to any species or genus in which you have a special interest.



Bob McCartney

Woodlanders, Inc.



Agenda and Registration form are found here.

Aiken, South Carolina
1128 Colleton Ave SE, Aiken, South Carolina 29801
United States
Event Category: