Can trees become a part of tourism? In Charlotte, North Carolina, trees are increasingly becoming a destination thanks to Charlotte native and local business owner Patrick George. For more than 30 years, George has owned and led Heartwood Tree Service, but the impact he’s had on the community will far outlive the successful business.
“I think our tagline says it all: We’re helping trees outlive people,” George says.
In business, Heartwood Tree Service works to educate homeowners on the appropriate way to care for their trees and to provide leadership in the local tree care industry. In 2005, Heartwood Tree Service became the state of North Carolina’s first Tree Care Industry Association accredited tree care company. But beyond the day-to-day operations, George has found creative – and fitting – ways to give back.
George has also founded The Queen’s Crown, a Charlotte-based program to preserve the Queen City’s most precious trees. “We donate life-extending care for selected trees,” George says. For instance, the Queen’s Crown has previously saved a large poplar that’s five feet in diameter and completely hollow on the inside.
The trees that the Queen’s Crown protects, as well as other notable Charlotte trees, go on to create a citywide tour. George and his team provide bicycle tours around the city for visitors and residents alike to learn about the natural environment and the specific characteristics of the Charlotte community.
George’s passions for trees and bicycles will merge again this fall, when he rides in his second STIHL Tour des Trees. Tour des Trees is a weeklong 500- to 600-mile bicycle ride to raise awareness and money for the Tree Research and Education Endowment (TREE) Fund. This year’s ride will begin and end right in George’s backyard, in Charlotte.
The appreciation that George and his team have for trees comes from a fundamental place. “We wouldn’t be alive without trees and we recognize that,” George says. From his work with Heartwood Tree Service and the Queen’s Crown, though, it seems like at least some of Charlotte’s trees wouldn’t be alive without George. For more information about Heartwood Tree Service, visit www.heartwoodtree.com.
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