Historic Charleston, South Carolina, one of the oldest cities in the United States, is filled with Southern charm and old antebellum homes. It also has beautiful historic gardens.
One of the most visited is the Romantic-style Gardens of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The gardens at Magnolia Plantation, the oldest gardens in America, were first opened to the public in the 1870s. They are a special place for visitors to be enchanted by the natural beauty of the garden’s flowers and plush greenery, and to admire the scenery of South Carolina’s Lowcountry.
The plantation, established in 1676, has stayed in the same family – the Draytons – for over three centuries. Each generation has added a personal touch to the gardens. John Drayton created a series of romantic gardens for his wife to enjoy. In the 1830’s, he planted the gardenias, the oldest flowers in the gardens. He also introduced the first azaleas to America when he planted them in the garden. Drayton wanted a peaceful setting away from war and destruction, therefore the Romantic-style Gardens stayed beautiful. In fact, there are different flowers in bloom every month.
Some of the flowers have a rich history with the South. The Confederate rose is a popular flower that has graced the magazine covers of Country Gardens and Cottage Style. Not really a rose, the Confederate rose is actually a hibiscus (Hibiscus mutabilis) from China. In November and December, the Confederate rose bloom starts as a white color then a pastel pink before it changes into a deep rose color. Legend has it a soldier was bleeding and he fell on the rose as he died. As he bled, the soldier’s blood covered the flower turning it a deep rose. The Confederate rose, also called a cotton rose, grows as a large bush or a small tree. When the soldiers were coming home from the Civil War the women gave them a Confederate rose in appreciation of their service.
In May, the iris, day lilies, southern Magnolia, roses, oleander, Gerbera Daisy, butterfly bush, and lilies bloom starting in a spectacular display of color and shapes. The flowers are in harmony with nature as they blow in the wind. Each flower is a part of the romantic garden in every sense of the word.
The Audubon Swamp Garden is a haven for different animal species like turtles, birds, and alligators. The swamp is filled with trees, plants, and islands afloat, along with cypress surrounded by black water. You can see the animals and the landscape from the bridges, dikes, and boardwalks. The swamp stays the same year after year. The animals live in their secret world and the swamp is a favorite tourist site.
WHEN YOU GO:
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is open 365 days of the year. A general admission fee is charged with add-on costs for guided tours of the historic home, nature train or boat excursions, and the Audubon swamp.
The 1843 Battery Carriage House is an elegant and comfortable inn in Charleston with 10 guestrooms and a complimentary breakfast.
Twice each year visitors have the opportunity to visit some of Charleston’s beautiful private gardens and historic homes. The Festival of Houses & Gardens in spring showcases residences in the city’s Old & Historic District and in fall the Preservation Society of Charleston holds its annual Fall Tours of Homes & Gardens. Several of Charleston’s historic homes also have gardens to tour as part of the admission price.
Featured image – Boardwalk in the swamp garden / Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
By Vivian Perez