At Pass Christian, in Memorial Park, a healthy plant stands more than 7 feet high and proudly sways in the Gulf breezes. It deserves to be proud and hearty since its planting sometime in late 1980s, for it is the offspring of an old and historical plant still growing in the front garden of the old McCutchon property on the beach front off Menge Avenue.
According to family reports, the mother plant, a mere sprig at the time, was brought to the Coast from Mt. Vernon by Mrs. Frances Park Lewis Butler, a grand-niece of George Washington and a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington. She brought this plant to the Coast and set it in her front garden some time in the early nineteenth century. She is buried in the Live Oak Cemetery in the town; her tombstone states that she was born in 1793 and died in 1874.
The blossoms of this tree are red and semi-double, and to this day have not been identified by name. Like a person, the tree has begun to show her age, perhaps because of neglect and the whipping she has taken from the three large magnolia trees that flank her on three sides. The height of this tree is about 18 feet.
One wonders how she has withstood the lashing of the winds and the surf from the tropical hurricanes and storms that have visited our Coast from time to time. Over a hundred years of age! No wonder she has lost her girlish figure and is a bit lopsided. Regardless of her age and abuse, she still bears many lovely blossoms each year.