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Cottonwood trees in the swamp

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

Frequently, Hollywood takes artistic license but when Friends of the Congaree Swamp president John Grego was describing cottonwoods while leading a group, it made me think of the song “The leaves of the cottonwoods whisper above, Tammy, Tammy, Tammy’s in love,” from the movie Tammy and the Bachelor. Debbie Reynold’s character Tammy is a young woman living on the edge of a swamp with her moon-shine making grandfather -- exactly the place where cottonwoods are most happy – areas that are occasionally flooded. I personally have never seen a cottonwood in any other setting but they can grow in a myriad of conditions, making them good trees for reclamation sites. The trees are fast growing with limbs prone to breaking in winds, but those resulting snags are good places for wildlife to nest in or take refuge.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.