A July 19 letter writer objected to the design of the Colonial Lake Park. The plantings, though young, are not “willy-nilly” as she suggests. Her observation that it looks like a nursery should be expected inasmuch as more than 17,000 plant varieties were planted. As for some of the palm trees already being in the boughs of the live oaks, I am not a horticulturist, but palm trees and live oaks growing together is a natural occurrence in the Lowcountry.
At the April meeting of the Commission on the Colonial Common and Ashley River Embankment, Jim Martin, projects director for the Charleston Parks Conservancy, explained the three elements of the design: 1) Features that make Charleston different, such as elements found in local private gardens; 2) The natural landscape of the area, such as wetlands, marshes and trees; and 3) the layout along an East/West and North/South axis. The North/South axis is indicative of a Charleston garden featuring azaleas, camellias and tea olives; the East/West axis is a more traditional, full-sun space with natural landscaping. Grasses were planted along with bulbs in order for the park to change appearance throughout the year.
Work continues. Parking and foot traffic damaging the plants were considered and are being monitored. Plants utilized near the curb were selected based on their ability to survive being run over multiple times and are set back slightly from the curb to allow for the opening of car doors.
Pavers are being considered to mitigate these issues as are lines for parking spaces to direct traffic flow. Park Angels, volunteers with the Parks Conservancy, tend to the watering and gardening efforts that nourish and maintain the park. I encourage those interested to get involved. The time commitment is minimal.
We are fortunate to have a public and private commitment to this signature park, which is already gathering international attention.
We now have a beautiful public space, representative of the horticulture of the Lowcountry and gardens of Charleston, centered around a lake that is free of algae, properly flows with the tides and offers a variety of spaces for people to enjoy. I believe that is what the Charleston Parks Conservancy and all those involved with the project were thinking.
Commission on the Colonial Common and Ashley River Embankment