At the end of the Heritage Garden area, you will see a whimsical tall metal sculpture called the Pawmetto Tree. It was painted in 2000 by Andie Freeman as part of the Palmetto Tree Project. The Palmetto Tree Project was the largest public art installation in the Columbia, South Carolina area and was sponsored by the Cultural Councils of Richland and Lexington Counties. The artists for the 87 steel trees were chosen based upon sketches from 160 submissions. Andie Freeman was inspired by the upcoming birth of her first child to create a fun and educational tree which would highlight some of the flora and fauna of the state. The daytime side features animals that a child might see in their environment that is active in the daytime, and the night side features nocturnal animals of South Carolina. The artist’s intent was that with the tree’s tongue in cheek style and friendly illustrations families would be inspired to learn more about the animals that share their world with them.
The 525-pound Pawmetto Tree was installed at Finley Park from July 2000 – October 2000 when it was auctioned to benefit the Cultural Council's Sculpture in Public Places Fund. The artist’s parents, Joe and Carol Paradis purchased the tree with the intent of donating it to the Coastal Discovery Museum so that visitors and residents of the island could enjoy it. Artist Andie Freeman still visits Hilton Head Island and in 2014 she was the Best in Show winner at the Museum’s annual Art Market juried art festival. She will be an artist in residence during 2022.