Sunday, June 28, 2015

Swan Lake Iris Garden

Swan Lake Iris Garden is a 150 acre garden full of Japanese irises, camellias, lilies, azaleas, and magnolias. The 45 acre lake is home to eight species of swans.

The story surrounding the garden is rather interesting. It began in 1927 as a private fishing retreat for Hamilton Carr Bland, a local business man. He had attempted to landscape his home with irises, but failed miserably. Frustrated, he dug up all the iris bulbs and dumped them at the lake. The next spring, the irises came up and bloomed. They've been flourishing ever since. Mr. Bland deeded the gardens to the city in 1949.

The gardens are open from 7:30 AM until dusk. Admission is free. (The best time to view the irises is from mid-late May until early June.)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summerville Azalea Park

Summerville Azalea Park, located in Summerville, South Carolina, is a 16 acre public park. Of course, it has many beautiful flowering azaleas. It also has dogwood, wisteria, and crepe myrtle, as well as five butterfly reflecting ponds, bronze sculptures, a gazebo, and ornamental bridges.

It's a lovely place to spend an afternoon wandering down the nature trails. Spring is the best time to view the colorful blooms.

The park is open from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Admission is free. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

South Carolina Botanical Garden

The South Carolina Botanical Garden is a 270 acre garden located in Clemson, South Carolina, near the Clemson University Campus. It has grown considerably from its original 40 acre size. There are many garden areas here, including the Class of '39 Caboose Garden, a butterfly garden, a conifer collection, and a very beautiful Meditation Garden which has a waterfall, gazebo, and pool.

There are a couple of other interesting things on the grounds, including a Geology Museum, and cabin built in 1716, known as the Hanover House.

The garden is open daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is a 400 acre property that was founded in 1678 by the Drayton family. It is Charleston's most visited plantation, and it's easy to see why.  There's a lot there! It's home to America's oldest garden - The Barbados Tropical Garden. Other gardens on the property include a Biblical garden, topiary garden, a maze of camellias, and a swamp garden that spans 60 acres. Bald Eagles, egrets, otters, and of course, alligators, can be seen in the swamp garden. Visitors can enjoy a variety of bog plants, ornamental grasses, and wildflowers. 

Additional attractions include a petting zoo, Old African American Cabin, and conservatory.

The gardens are open daily from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Cost of admission for adults is $15.00, and for children, $10.00. There is an additional cost for the plantation house tour, nature boat tour, and the Audubon Swamp Garden. All-inclusive tickets are available, but those are rather costly - $47.00 for adults, $43.00 for children.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hopeland Gardens

Located in Aiken, South Carolina, Hopeland Gardens cover 14 acres. Its paths meander under 100 year old live oaks, cedars, and magnolia trees. Among the many plants visitors will see, are azaleas, dogwood, crape myrtles, and Japanese iris. It's really a nice place to bring a lunch and have a picnic.

Also on the grounds is a wetlands area where visitors can see ducks, turtles, and fish. In addition, there's the Aiken Community Labyrith, the "Doll House," which was the former playhouse of the former owner, Mrs. C. Oliver Islelin's children, and The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame, which is sure to interest horse lovers.  

The gardens are open year round from 10:00 AM to sunset. Admission is free.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Heyward Washington House

The Heyward Washington House and Gardens is located in Charleston, South Carolina. It is named for the builder, Daniel Heyward and its famous guest, George Washington. The house was built in 1772, and was home to Thomas Heyward, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. For those who like a little history, Thomas Heyward was a patriot leader and artillery officer with the South Carolina militia during the American Revolution.   He was captured by the British in 1780, but was set free in 1781.

The elegant formal gardens surrounding the house look like period gardens, but they were not created until the 1930s. There is a featured knot garden, which is just lovely, as well as authentic period plants. The Garden Club of Charleston maintains the gardens, and has done so since 1941.

The house and gardens are open on Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, and on Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00 PM.  Admission for adults is $10.00, and for children, $5.00.

Now, I have one more announcement before I go: My new children's picture book, Ten Zany Birds, is now available on Amazon! You can find it here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cypress Gardens

Cypress Gardens is located in Monck's Corner, South Carolina. (This is different from the Cypress Gardens in Florida.) It was created in 1927 by Benjamin R. Kittredge. Today, it is a 163 acre garden that contains three miles of foot paths. Visitors can also view the gardens from flat bottom boats. It's really a lovely place. The black swamp water reflects flowering dogwoods, daffodils, and azaleas beautifully.  Also on the grounds, is a greenhouse filled with butterflies (there is a display of the lifecycle of them), birds, a pond, and an arthropod exhibit.

For those who like trivia, Cypress Gardens was the site used for filming several movies, including Cold Mountain (2003), Swamp Thing (1982), The Notebook (2004), and The Patriot (2000).

The gardens are open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Cost of admission for adults is $10.00, and for children, $5.00.  A guided boat ride would cost an additional $5.00, but you have the option of an self-guided tour for no additional cost.