May 22, 2019
With more than 40 living plant sculptures, the South Carolina Festival of Flowers Signature Topiary Display in Uptown Greenwood puts the city in full bloom, through June and into early July.
“The smaller ones can be a challenge because they are top-heavy,” said horticulture crew member Clint Price. “But, some of the larger ones can be as well.”
All in a day’s work, Price and his crewmates do what is necessary to get everything in shape. Including Price, there are five full-time members of the horticulture team and three part-time staffers. On Wednesday, they made last-minute touch-ups in the greenhouse as Price and others used a Bobcat to load the topiaries onto a truck and take them out into Uptown.
“Once you start taking them out you get that rush, but it can be a little bit sketchy at times, too,” Price said.
Backing the Bobcat out of the greenhouse left mere inches of leeway on either side of the wheeled base of the horse topiary. Others kept their hands on the green, leafy haunches of the horse because every bump from the Bobcat left it rocking back and forth midair.
Diana Fetters dove to the floor of the trailer once the topiary was set down, placing pieces of brick behind the wheels to stop the horse from rolling while they secured it to the trailer with straps. It’s her first year working the festival and she said the mix of anxiety and tremendous relief is a bit like riding a roller coaster.
“We have no room for error,” she said. “If anything goes wrong, we don’t have time to fix it. We just don’t.”
While working on the seahorse, Price pulled a tall, flowy plant into a “ponytail” to keep it out of everyone’s way and he donned a pair of fishing waders to help move the dolphin into the pond near Sugar boutique and Howard’s on Main.
Price noted that the Lander University Bearcat topiary is one of the trickier to move larger topiaries. Look for it to be installed at the Uptown Market on Maxwell Avenue this year.
“It usually takes about two weeks to put all of them out,” Price said. “When you are in the greenhouse every day, caring for them when it is cold and wet outside, it can make for a long day, but when you bring them out and everyone starts taking pictures, it makes it fun.”
The crew has to decide where to place each one and ready the plant sculptures and their respective locations. That involves dead-heading spent blooms, hooking up drip irrigation systems, landscaping and, in several cases, connecting water features such as fountains.
Although there are no new topiaries debuting this year, Price said more could be in the works for next year.
“Greenwood has one of the prettiest main streets I have seen,” Fetters said. “I am so excited for this.”
Contact St. Claire Donaghy at 864-943-2518