When most people think of palm trees, visions of a warm sunny beach or tropical island somewhere at sea might enter their minds.
Whether along the beautiful Carolina coastline leading south to Florida or along scenic inland roadways, palm trees, to most, add distinct beauty wherever they grow.
Lake Norman, officially called the "Inland Sea" and located some 200 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, has seen a number of palm trees planted around its shores and in subdivisions. While palm trees need warm climate conditions to grow, Lake Norman seems able to provide just enough mild weather to allow that to happen.
The Lake Norman area is in the garden zone, grouped with growing conditions prevalent to much of upstate South Carolina. This allows lake residents to give Lake Norman a bit of that sultry feel. Take a cruise by boat and you'll notice many homeowners have created their own tropical oasis featuring palm trees.
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Kevin Craft, who lives lakefront in the Harbor Cove subdivision in Mooresville, has more than 20 palm trees on his property. Craft, a Pittsburgh native, wanted to bring what he says is a "vacation feel" to his home.
"When I moved here, there were really only a couple of neighborhoods like The Point and the Peninsula trying to grow palms," said Craft. "I thought, instead of waiting to see palm trees like most of us do when we go on vacation, why not make your yard look like your on vacation all the time?"
Craft has 22 palm trees of four different types, including the Windmill, Palmetto, Mediterranean and Pindo.
"The Windmill Palm grows really well here," said Craft. "It's by far the most cold-hardy palm. The others need a little TLC, like spotlight warmers and, most importantly, soil softener - due to the North Carolina clay we have in this area - to help drain the water."
The Windmill Palm, which grows to about 10-15 feet and is considered the best cold-hardy palm, can withstand temperatures to about 10 degrees for a short time.
The Palmetto, which can grow to around 20 feet and dominates the Carolina coastline, is not quite as hardy. The Pindo, with its wide body and long fronds, falls into the same category as the Palmetto, and both need a little extra care during cold winter nights.
Wrapping mini-lights around the trunk can add up to 5 degrees of warmth. Wrap a blanket around the lights and you can increase the temperature even more.
"Palm trees are a beautiful thing," said Harbor Cove resident John Horan, originally from New Jersey, who has four Windmill palms in his front yard. "It's a great feeling that you're living far enough south that you can grow palm trees."
Katie Stone, who lives in the Harbor subdivision on Lake Norman, came home one day this summer and was surprised to see a couple of palm trees in her yard.
"My husband has always been a huge fan of palm trees," said Stone. "He always wanted to grow palm trees, and when he found out they could survive on Lake Norman he was determined to give it a try. I just wasn't sure when.
"So we now have two Windmill palms and one Pindo palm. We decorated all three of them with Christmas lights, and it really brings a tropical feel to our landscaping."