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Magnificent live oaks define our landscape, offering poetic structure to our vistas, shade on scorching summer days, and shelter for myriad plants and animals. Many, such as the Angel Oak on John’s Island, have survived for centuries, bearing witness to the collective histories of the Lowcountry and outlasting destructive forces of both man and Mother Nature. Here, we pay tribute to these mighty miracles with photographs by Dustin K. Ryan and quotes from local poets and authors
Allée of oaks on Botany Bay Road leading to the former plantation on Edisto Island
In Spanish moss there’s
It veils the southern coast;
It shrouds the oaks and cypresses;
In it the little birds are lost.
It makes each wood a haunted place,
And every tree a ghost.
— from “Spanish Moss” by Archibald Rutledge
Live oaks reflected in a pond at Charles Towne Landing in West Ashley
A live oak draped in Spanish moss marks the entrance to a secret garden at Charles Towne Landing.
“The oak was the only thing from my childhood that never appeared smaller than I had remembered it.”
—Pat Conroy, from Beach Music: A Novel
Angel Oak, John’s Island
“...an old live oak thirty feet around at the base, its heavy limbs dropped to the ground, but still alive, still sucking out so much water that nothing else could grow beneath it, not even grass or weeds. In the white, soft dirt, the tree’s roots surfaced and twisted and dove under again in their search for what they needed.”
—Josephine Humphreys, from Dreams of Sleep
Get a unique perspective of the Angel Oak and other gorgeous live oaks through photographer Dustin K. Ryan’s videos: