Restoring the Mill at Parks Mill

Bill Stringer, Parks Mill Preserve Chair

The Superstar of the Parks Mill Spiderlily Preserve is the rare and beautiful rocky shoals spiderlily.  It gets top billing for obvious reasons.

Figure 1. The Superstar!

Historic Mill Building

The old historic mill building deserves attention as well, especially as it is showing its age and needs help to survive into the future.  The Parks Mill Preserve Committee is working on giving it a much-needed face lift.  In 2020, we started working on a plan to restore the Mill building into sustainable condition.

We saw that some of the support beams underneath were showing some serious damage and sagging (see Figure 3).  We became concerned that further neglect would result in unrecoverable damage to the entire structure.  We concluded that a new roof was needed, but that would have to wait until the sagging support beams underneath could be replaced.  Fortunately, we have a few highly motivated retired folks with skills in construction who could take the lead in this work.   SCNPS members Tom Simpson and Bill Quinn have taken the lead in getting this project underway.

Preliminary removal of exterior wall boards uncovered the degree of damage, and the size and number of heavy support beams needed.  Tom’s extensive “I know a guy” list has  enabled us to find a sawmiller who is working with us to find some large sawlogs, and to saw them to the correct dimensions.  And the correct size is big and heavy.  Tom’s experience in working with heavy timbers led him to develop some ways to make moving large heavy timbers a lot easier. So, Tom Simpson and Bill Quinn with occasional help from Bill Stringer, have made significant progress by working a half-day a week on the project.

Note that Tom, Bill, and the author are steadily becoming senior citizens.  We have had to work hard, but even more important, smart.  Thanks to Tom, the smart part comes easy.

Below is a pair of before and after photos to show the scale of things we have accomplished.  We started with the support beams under the mill room floor.  We have purchased some heavy-duty jacks and are using jacking and a technique called cribbing to level and stabilize the floor and wall structure.  When that is done, we remove the old rotten beams, repair any failing stone-and-cement piers, and then we move the new replacement support beams into place.

Figure 3.  Failed original beams.  Note the millstones above.

Figure 4.  (From L to R) A heavy duty jack, cribbing, and new beams in place.

Mind you, this  work was accomplished by two to three men, all in their mid-seventies, and so illustrates how working smart can take you a long way.  Needless to say, we  place a huge priority on safety.  You have probably determined by now that this is an effort to recruit some more, and possibly younger, interested folks into this work, and you’d be right!  So, if you can spare an occasional half day to a day from time to time, and would be interested in helping out with this effort and learning from an expert in working hard and smart (Tom Simpson), forward your name and contact info to Bill Stringer at [email protected] .  We will be happy to fit you into the work schedule.  We can assure that you will have fun, because one cannot work this hard without it!  And the feeling of deep satisfaction that comes from looking over, at “quitting time”,  what has been accomplished is quite irreplaceable!


The Park Mill Team

Upstate Monthly Meeting – Choose Your Trees Like You Choose Your Pets!

For our June meeting, Dr. Larry Mellichamp will be presenting, “Choose Your Trees Like You Choose Your Pets!  How to Select the Best Trees for Your Yard

How do you decide which tree to plant? Dr. Mellichamp will discuss good and “bad” trees, the process of selecting the best tree species, and point out some pitfalls of poor decisions as to species and site selection. Larry will answer your questions about trees. Think about the trees in your future.

**Please note there is a change to our usual Zoom link.**  We have updated the link on the the event page, so update your calendars accordingly.  Thank you

Native Plants and Biodiversity

“The great challenge of the twenty-first century is to raise people everywhere to a decent standard of living while preserving as much of the rest of life as possible.”
― Edward O. Wilson

For most of us the debate about the reality of climate change and the threat to biodiversity seems to be largely behind us, and we can now focus our energies on what we can do about it.  May 22nd is the International Day for Global Diversity . We thought this would be a good time to reflect on our contribution—past, present and future.

Doug Lockard muses on the relationship between native plants and the role they play in addressing the larger challenges of biodiversity for this edition.  “My interest in conservation began with the sustainability movement during my later years in the construction industry.  Through my more recent engagement with the South Carolina Native Plant Society, that interest has morphed into a rewarding adventure of discovery into the world of ecosystems and the importance of biodiversity.”

In this essay, we’ll explore the foundational role of native plants in the balance of all life, some of the primary challenges to our native species, and how rewilding our individual properties right here in South Carolina will enable us contribute nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods.

Read the Essay

Upstate lecture: Bunched Arrowhead, Our Rarest Plant

April Upstate Meeting: Saving the Bunched Arrowhead, Our Rarest Plant

Tuesday, April 19 @ 6:30 pm8:30   Zoom Meeting

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 832 7104 9525
Passcode: 384192


The Bunched Arrowhead (Sagittaria fasciculata) is one of the nation’s rarest plants.  It is an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, and it exists only in two counties on earth – mostly in Greenville County and some in Henderson County, NC.  In Greenville County, it lives only in Piedmont Seepage Forests, a rare wetland type, in a band from Berea through Travelers Rest and Taylors to the outskirts of Greer.  It is found in the headwaters of the Reedy, Enoree, and Tyger Rivers.

Because of its limited range and because it is dependent upon these special groundwater-fed wetlands, the Bunched Arrowhead’s continued existence is precarious.  Its habitat has historically been eliminated by farming, livestock, and textile pollution.  Now, it faces the additional threat of development sprawl into northern Greenville County.

Over the last decade, the Native Plant Society has worked with local communities, the SC Department of Natural Resources, Upstate Forever, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Naturaland Trust to preserve Bunched Arrowhead habitat and to fight off development that would destroy these plants and their wetlands.  In northern Greenville County, the Bunched Arrowhead has become a symbol of the fight of local communities against development that would alter forever the rural landscape.

The Program

In this program, Frank Holleman will describe the plant, its habitat, and the fight to save it.  Frank is President of Naturaland Trust, which has acquired a number of Bunched Arrowhead wetlands for conservation, and a Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which has represented the Society and others in battles to protect this plant and its habitat.  Frank is also a member of the Society’s Upstate Board and a native plant volunteer.

  Holleman is President of Naturaland Trust, founded 45 years ago to protect South Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.  Frank is also a Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, a regional legal and advocacy nonprofit; coordinates SELC’s coal ash work across the Southeast; and works on clean water issues.  Prior to joining SELC, for about 25 years Frank practiced law at Wyche, Burgess, Freeman, and Parham in Greenville, S.C.  Frank served as the United States Deputy Secretary of Education, as Chief of Staff to U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley, and as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice.

Frank was a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun and Judge Harrison Winter of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  Frank is a graduate of Furman University (magna cum laude), Harvard Law School (magna cum laude), and the London School of Economics and Political Science (M.Sc.).  In 2010, he received the Environmental Awareness Award from the State of South Carolina and in 2018 the Carl F. Kohrt Distinguished Alumni Award from the Furman University Alumni Association.  Frank and Anne live in Greenville and have three adult children and three grandchildren.

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Meeting ID: 832 7104 9525
Passcode: 384192
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Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale April 2!

Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale

April 2, 2022 @ 8:30 am1:00 pm   Conestee Park

840 Mauldin Road, Greenville



The sale is a large, in-person style again this Spring at Conestee Park, 840 Mauldin Road in Greenville. The date is Saturday, April 2nd, from 8:30am to 1pm. Early admission at 8:30am is for members only with the general public admitted at 9am. Knowledgeable advisors will be on the sale floor to assist customers with plant selection.

The sale includes a wide selection of native shrubs, trees, perennial wildflowers, ferns, vines, and grasses. Cash, credit, and checks accepted. Visit the website,, in March for updated information and a list of plants available.

Guest plant vendors and educational exhibits will also be on site, including beekeepers, soil enhancements, books on Native plants and an exotic invasive species public service booth.


Volunteers Needed

Many volunteers are needed to run the sale.  We will train you on the various jobs from moving plants, assisting customers, writing up invoices, holding plants while customers continue to shop, and loading plants into vehicles.  Click on the volunteer form below to see all the ways and times you can help make the sale a success.

To sign up to volunteer, click here!


To download a flyer to share with friends and neighbors, click here!


To download a list of the plants that will be for sale in Excel, click here!

To download a PDF version of the list, click here!


To download a map of the plant sale site, click here!

Open House at Parks Mill Rocky Shoals Spiderlily Preserve May 14th and 21st

Rocky Shoals Spider Lily, photo by Mac Stone

We are planning to offer guided visits on Saturday, May 14, and May 21, through the Parks Mill Shoals Spiderlily Preserve during the peak bloom period.   This spectacular native lily thrives in fast running water in shoaly areas of lower piedmont streams.  The Preserve is near the town of Plum Branch, and consists of 15 acres of woodland, a large population of shoal’s spider lilies in Stevens Creek, and a reasonably intact turbine-powered grist mill.  This site was protected through the joint efforts of the SC Native Plant Society, Naturaland Trust in Greenville, and the Upper Savannah Land Trust in Greenwood.

About the site:

The creek-bed is home to a large and prosperous population of rocky shoals spiderlily (Hymenocallis coronaria), a 2.5-foot-tall lily with large (4-inch diameter) white flowers that appear in profusion in early May thru mid-June every year, with peak bloom during the middle 2 weeks of May.  The shoals spiderlily is the major reason for protecting the site. There is also an active aquatic animal community in the creek, including American gar and other fish species, with an accompanying predator community, including ospreys, herons, kingfishers, raccoons, and river otters.

The mill building and machinery are largely intact but non-functional.  In working to restore the mill building, we  have uncovered evidence that, in addition to a grain grinding facility, there was a sawmill and a cotton gin on the site.  There is a dam and millpond on the neighboring upstream property, with a millrace canal that conveyed water about 200 yards to a penstock and two turbines that generated the torque that operated the mill machinery.  We are actively working (and fund-raising) to restore the mill building to a sustainable condition.

This site is protected, and access is available only by appointment, and with a responsible member of the Preserve Protection team present. We ask that you register in advance to visit the site during a morning or afternoon period on May 14 or May 21.  We may have to assign you to a time slot to maintain safe social distancing, but we will try to accommodate your wishes.  So, save the dates in your calendar!

Questions or concerns, e-mail Bill Stringer at [email protected].

To register, complete and submit the online form below:

2022 Parks Mill Open House

Reservation form
  • Hold CTRL key to choose two
  • Please enter a number from 1 to 4.
  • Enter the names and email addresses of everyone in your party.
  • Please add the cell phone number of the person responsible for your party


Directions and Precautions:

Directions to the site:

  • Plum Branch, SC is at the intersection of SC Hwy 28 and SC Hwy 283.
    • On your cellphone Map app find Plum Branch, then follow SC 283 eastward to where William Self Rd (S-33-202) joins SC 283 (it is just before you reach Stevens Creek). This is the location of the entrance to the Parks Mill site. Then touch your screen for a couple of seconds at that intersection on the map. That will “drop a pin” on the map at that location, as denoted by the appearance of a key or arrow symbol. When you touch that pin and select Directions, your Map app will navigate you from your location to that pin, with video and audio instructions.  If you need them, the GPS coordinates for the entrance are:  33.8533 degrees by -82.2301 degrees
  • Do not park in the entrance road, as we need to maintain open access to the Mill and the lilies.  There is limited parking at the site in the small grassy area alongside William Self Road (S-33-202). If there is no parking left there, drive to downtown Plum Branch and park in the parking lot between the railroad and the Bracknell’s Store Building.  Do not park in front of the Post Office.
  • We will have a van shuttling between Plum Branch and the site entrance.  Call on the event days to request a shuttle ride to the Site (phone # available at the site entrance on event days).  The van will be shuttling as needed (every 30 minutes at peak times).

Precautions:  This is a rustic site with limited amenities beyond a bathroom with lavatory and toilet.  There will be litter barrels present and littering of the site may discourage future open house opportunities.

  1. Wear sturdy footwear and consider bringing a hiking stick or walker because the edge of the Creek is a bit rough.
  2. May is well into the tick (ugh!) season, so wear long pants, and be prepared to cuff your pants into sturdy socks. Wear a cap and treat it with insect repellent.  Likewise for your shirt collar and sleeves.  And avoid walking in areas of tall vegetation.
  3. Do not wade into the Creek for two reasons: 1. The rocks are very slick, and we are not responsible for “butt plants” and, 2. The lilies are protected, and we don’t want them to experience human foot traffic.  Please ensure any children in your group honor this precaution.
  4. The mill building is a construction site and will probably be off-limits to exploration.

By registering and attending, each person agrees to complete and sign a waiver of liability agreement upon arrival on the Parks Mill Rocky Shoals Spiderlily Preserve site.  (A copy of the form will be emailed to you upon receipt of your registration so you can complete it in advance to bring with you. This will save you time at the site entrance.


Parks Mill Rocky Shoals Spiderlily Preserve Team

Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale


Upstate Spring Native Plant Sale

April 2 @ 8:30 am1:00 pm   Conestee Park, 840 Mauldin Road, Greenville


The sale is a large, in-person style again this Spring at Conestee Park, 840 Mauldin Road in Greenville. The date is Saturday, April 2nd from 8:30am to 1pm. Early admission at 8:30am is for members only with the general public admitted at 9am. Knowledgeable advisors will be on the sale floor to assist customers with plant selection.

The sale includes a wide selection of native shrubs, trees, perennial wildflowers, ferns, vines, and grasses. Cash, credit, and checks accepted. Visit the website,, in March for updated information and a list of plants available.

Guest Vendors and special exhibits

Guest plant vendors include Carolina Wild, Jeff Miller – Carnivorous plants, Earthen Organics, and Saturnia Farm. Educational exhibits will also be on site, including beekeepers, soil enhancements, books on Native plants and an exotic invasive species public service booth.

Volunteers Needed

Many volunteers are needed to run the sale.  We will train you on the various jobs from moving plants, assisting customers, writing up invoices, holding plants while customers continue to shop, and loading plants into vehicles.  Click on the volunteer form below to see all the ways and times you can help make the sale a success.

To sign up to volunteer, click here!


To download a flyer to share with friends and neighbors, click here!




DHEC Board Rejects Permit for Spartanburg RV Park in Rare Plant Habitat

Article by Frank Holleman

Dwarf Flowered Heartleaf (Hexastylis naniflora)

On December 20, the DHEC Board met in Columbia and by a vote of 4-2 rejected a septic permit for a proposed RV Park in the watershed of Goldmine Creek in Spartanburg County, which contains many populations of the rare Dwarf Flowered Heartleaf (Hexastylis naniflora). Local residents objected to the proposal because the proposed park is located in a beautiful rural area that has been the focus of conservation initiatives, including several conservation easements. They objected particularly to the proposed septic system, on a hillside overlooking Goldmine Creek and discharging into groundwater on which the community’s wells depend.

The community conducted an ecological survey, which demonstrated that the Creek was a high quality Piedmont stream and that along its banks were many populations of Dwarf Flowered Heartleaf and at least one population of Ashy Hydrangea. The Heartleaf is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act; it exists only in parts of Greenville, Spartanburg, and Cherokee Counties and a few counties in the southern North Carolina Piedmont. The Ashy Hydrangea is identified as a species of concern in South Carolina by SC DNR. Both plants are dependent upon groundwater for their survival and some of the populations live right on the edge of the stream and are impacted by the stream’s water.

Plans for proposed RV park, from

Because of the threats to the plants and problems with the septic system permit, the S.C. Native Plant Society and Upstate Forever supported the community’s objections, in a filing with the DHEC Board submitted on our behalf by the Southern Environmental Law Center. The DHEC Board agreed that the septic permit was wrongly approved. The developer now must decide whether to appeal the decision, or to reapply for a permit for a redesigned system, or to rethink the project.

In the recent past, the Society has also spoken up for the rare Heartleaf in proceedings before the Greenville County Planning Commission and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Peters Creek Heritage Preserve in Spartanburg was created to protect populations of the Heartleaf, at the urging of our member Dr. Gil Newberry.

The 2022 Upstate NPS Spring Plant Sale is ON!

Enthusiastic NPS members are needed to put on a great plant sale. Our Motto: “If everyone does a little, no one does TOO much.”  YOU have an opportunity for leadership! You don’t have to be an expert, just willing to organize one aspect of the sale and then make it happen.

Where: Conestee Nature Preserve, 840 Mauldin Rd., Greenville, SC 19607
When: April 1st – 2nd, 8:30 am – 1:00 pm

Here are the available opportunities:


  • Volunteers Coordinator: Recruit volunteers, maintain list/database of volunteers, work with volunteers on day of sale.  List of past volunteers will be provided.
  • Guest Vendor Liaison: Recruit and work with guest vendors, provide colored plant price stakes, collect, and count price stakes at end of sale.
  • Publicity Team: Create, print, and distribute flyers, press release and calendar listings and submit to local media. Post on local on-line calendars, arrange tv interviews, seek out new avenues of publicity.
  • Special Projects: Identify and invite presenters/demonstrations to the sale. Obtain and sell special merchandise at the sale (fertilizers, seeds, tee shirts, etc.)
  • Site Manager: Supervise site set-up Friday, April 1 and set-up and tear-down on Saturday.
  • Plant Transport Coordinator: Find and organize people with trucks and other helpers to load and transport plants from the greenhouse to the sale site. Do the same to return left-over plants on Saturday afternoon.
  • Nursery logistics:  Keep vehicles and plants moving out of the nursery (on their way to the sale) in an organized manner.
  • Plant pickup at the sale leader:  Customers must present their paid receipt to pick up plants being held in the Holding area.  This volunteer will be sure the area moves smoothly.


  • Plant Sale Coordinator: Work with and coordinate the activities of the plant sale committee. Kathy Harrington
  • Plant Ordering Team: Decide what plants are wanted for sale, locate suppliers and prices, order plants, arrange for delivery/pick-up of plants. Kay Stafford & Cathy McCurdy
  • Plant Picture ID Cards: Create and have laminated any new picture ID cards needed. Cathy Bergin
  • Plant Information Labels: Print labels to attach to each plant. Order supplies if needed. This job requires availability and flexibility two weeks before the sale. Kitty Putnam
  • Equipment Transport: Pick-up and transport tables, canopies, signs, etc. from the storage unit and return them on Saturday. Requires a truck. Tom Simpson
  • Gatekeeper/New Member Sign-up: Entrance times: 8:30-9am am for PAID MEMBERS only. 9am to 1pm for the general public. At entrance gate, check member IDs from a master list, sign-up new members on the spot, and actively solicit people to join the plant sale email notification list. Mary Margaret Dragoun
  • Tally Up Leader:  Add up plants that customers are ready to buy and create a receipt to take to  the cashers.  Keep customers organized and directed to the next available cashier. Nia Payne
  • Hospitality: Buy, bake or recruit bakers for volunteer refreshments. Provide water and coffee on both Friday and Saturday. Purchase cups, napkins, etc. Diane Coiner
  • Take plant inventory both pre- and post-sale: Coordinate an inventory of the plants on the ground late Friday and again immediately when the sale closes on Saturday. This requires at least two teams of two each on both Friday and Saturday. Susan Lochridge

Contact Kathy Harrington at [email protected] to volunteer or for more information.

A tribute to Dr. Edward O. Wilson (Jun 1929 – Dec 2021)

Photo compliments of The Times Higher Education

by Doug Lockard

The renowned Harvard professor Dr. E.O. Wilson is one of the most brilliant and inspiring minds of our time.  I say “is” because although he’s no longer with us, his insights continue to resonate within our minds.  The achievements of this modern-day Darwin will remain at the forefront of ecological scientific development as well as a grass-roots movement by those of us asking the question “What can I do?”’

A multiple Pulitzer Prize winner, this legendary thinker and visionary will perhaps be most remembered for his new theories in ecology, evolution, and biodiversity that have changed the way we view the world and our place in it.

With the publication of his 1967 book The Theory of Island Biogeography he awakened the scientific community with ideas of such vitality and inspiration that they have re-invigorated the study of what he called ‘old-fashioned biology’.

He pioneered a new discipline called sociobiology and in his 1975 book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis he extended his ideas on social insect behavior to animals and then humans.  In doing so, he created his greatest legacy:  an awareness of the richness of the planet’s biodiversity, humanity’s disruption of these ecosystems, and the consequences of our actions (or inaction).

Dr. Wilson believed the creation of our planet’s diversity developed over 3 billion years of evolution; a succession of biological dynasties of animals that occupy the seas, followed by another 350 million years to assemble the rain forests in which half or more of the species on earth now live. Today’s scientists have only begun to understand how our ecosystems work, and it would be reckless to suppose that biodiversity can be diminished indefinitely without threatening the lives within them, including humanity itself.

“Earth has at last acquired a force (humanity) that can break the crucible of biodiversity.” 

“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”

The work of Dr. Wilson has enabled the scientific community to develop methods to make meaningful predictions about diversity in lakes, forests, and other habitats, their destruction and fragmentation, and the extinctions that would follow.   In 1993 Dr. Wilson estimated that Earth was then losing something on the order of 30,000 species per year.  More recently, scientists now believe us to be in the 2nd stage of the Earth’s “Sixth Extinction: The Anthropocene Epoch”  and that “as much as a fifth of the world’s plants and animal species have already been lost”.

Dr. Wilson left us with a cautionary tale: (paraphrased)

Future generations will not forgive us for carelessly wasting so many other species on our watch; however, I believe mankind can pass from conquerors to stewards.  Humanity is part of nature, you see.  One of the species that evolved among these other, now threatened, species. The more closely we identify ourselves with the totality of life in our ecosystems, the more quickly we will be able to discover the sources of human sensibility and acquire the knowledge on which an enduring ethic, and a sense of preferred direction, can be built.

As to how we might become better stewards, I leave you with these thoughts from E.O.Wilson:

“People need a sacred narrative. They must have a sense of larger purpose, in one form or another, however intellectualized.”

“You teach me, I forget. You show me, I remember. You involve me, I understand.”

“You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.”

Recommended Reading:  

Dr. Wilson has published dozens of essays and books, and provides a excellent synopsis of a few his more widely distributed works, including these recommended reads for interested SCNPS members and friends:

  • Anthill: A Novel (Fiction 2010) – This fact-based inspirational and magical story of a boy who grows up determined to save the world from its most savage ecological predator: man himself.
  • The Origins of Creativity (2017) – An examination of the relationship between the humanities and the sciences: what they offer to each other, how they can be united, and where they still fall short.
  • Half-Earth (2016) – To prevent 6th mass extinction of species, Dr. Wlison proposes a solution commensurate with the magnitude of the problem.
  • A Window on Eternity: A Biologist’s Walk Through Gorongosa National Park  (2014) – The remarkable story of how one of the most biologically diverse habitats in the world was destroyed, restored, and continues to evolve.
  • Biophila (1984) – An intensely personal essay in which Wilson reflects on his own experiences exploration of natural systems and examines the essential links between mankind and the rest of the living world.
  • The Diversity of Life (1999) – Dr. Wilson describes how the species of the world became diverse, why whole species are today threatened by human development, and how the loss of biodiversity is irreversible.