On October 2, 1999, the Clemson University Forestry Alumni Association officially dedicated the South Carolina Botanical Garden’s Roland E. Schoenike Arboretum. The site was named for Dr. Schoenike one year before his death in 1988, but no official ceremony had taken place for the occasion. As the years passed, however, Dr. Schoenike’s colleagues in the Department of Forest Resources continued to talk about the need to pay tribute to him by installing a plaque in his honor. Thereafter, a three-year restoration project at the Arboretum was done that provided an ideal opportunity for the Forestry Alumni to carry out their long-anticipated plans.
Dr. Schoenike is credited with organizing the greatest expansion of woody plant materials in the collection during his tenure as manager of what was then called the Forestry Arboretum. From 1969 to 1987, Dr. Schoenike planted, cared for and studied some 2,000 trees and shrubs in the arboretum. Realizing a need to ensure that the site would be protected after his retirement, he arranged for the Arboretum to be transferred from the Department of Forestry to the SCBG with the understanding that it would be preserved in perpetuity.
Following Dr. Schoenike’s death, the arboretum’s condition suffered due to budget and personnel shortages at the SCBG. Vines and weed trees invaded many areas, and the inventory records became outdated. The SCBG staff, fearing the loss of the many valuable specimens in the collection, hired student interns and applied for grants to fund a restoration project. Beginning in the summer of 1996, the efforts of dozens of student volunteers, master gardeners, boy scouts and student employees were focused on reclaiming the area.