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Kitchen Gardening

Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

If you are ever going to South Carolina, or just passing through, make this garden a stop on your list of places to visit.

  • This ancient Live Oak Allee is underplanted with a sea of colorful caladiums.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • The live oaks (Quercus virginiana) are a phenomenon of the southern states--some are more than 200 years old--this is an incredible display.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Live oak branches parallel this reflecting pool. Many of the ancient limbs need to be propped up so that they do not break from their own weight.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • I think all public gardens should have a what's-happening-in-the-garden display to show what is blooming in the gardens--and this is an attractive way to do it. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Besides glorious gardens, there are amazing  sculpture gardens and exhibits.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • This lily pond is at about chest level--a great eye-level view of the water lily blooms.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Garden list to attract pollinators.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Pollinators' garden features many blooming plants which were abuzz with bees and aflutter with butterflies and moths.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • These delightful, bronze tortoise sculptures in the children's garden are life size.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Display in children's garden with bluebird house, ladybug shelter, mason bee condo and garden miscellany.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • They feature lots of multi-colored chile peppers in plantings and containers in the gardens since they lend color and are fairly drought tolerant. This container combines them with garden sage.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Volunteer gardeners are the backbone of many gardens--Brookgreen has over 450 volunteers from gardeners to docents, some who work with the animals and others who maintain the sculptures.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

Just back from a short family vacation in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. While there, besides enjoying local produce and eating my fill of grits (in every way possible) and fried green tomatoes, I made a return visit to Brookgreen Gardens. If you are ever going to South Carolina, or just passing through, make this garden a stop on your list of places to visit. Besides wonderful gardens and ancient live oak trees, fountains and vistas, there are trails, a native animal collection, children’s garden, pollinator garden, a labyrinth, a small butterfly house, gift shop and cafe–and an incredibly amazing sculpture collection. https://www.brookgreen.org. The web site offers history, maps of the garden, events and more.

The Live Oak Allee is truly breath-taking featuring Quercus virginiana, which are over 200 years old. They are naturally hung with Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), which is a symbiotic epiphyte, which takes nourishment from the air rather than the soil. The gardeners have underplanted the live oaks with over 60,000 caladium bulbs in various pastel shades, which appear as a veritable sea of many-hued leaves.

And oh I musn’t forget the sculptures, throughout the gardens, not to mention the collections indoors. In all my years of visiting museums, I must admit, I have never seen quite such an array of sculpture–some enormous and some small–made from bronze to marble, clay and wood. The collection is so vast and impressive, it is a bit overwhelming to take it all in.

Brookgreen’s Lowcountry History and Wildlife Preserve covers thousands of acres, full of the native plants and animals of the South Carolina Lowcountry. There are all sorts of tours and walks throughout the gardens, as well as a Lowcountry Trail for hiking and an overland vehicle which takes you deep into the Preserve. In addition, the great rice plantations from the 1800s can be viewed from a boat excursion. There is a Chartres Labyrinth down along the river–a serene and lovely spot–for meditating and walking the .4 miles of labyrint paths.

This is a garden to put on your must-see list.




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