Weekend Get-Aways // Brookgreen Gardens - A Hidden Jewel

Brookgreen Gardens - South Carolina's Hidden Jewel


by Scottie Davis

Brookgreen Gardens is nestled half way between Georgetown, SC and Myrtle Beach, S.C. Showcasing 2,000 works of 19th and 20th century American figurative sculpture, the gardens combine the charm of the 200 year-old rice plantation site with the beauty of the sculpture meticulously arranged in landscaped native plantings.

The entire gardens cover 9,127 acres from the Atlantic Ocean to the Waccamaw River. They contain 2,000 species of botanical plants indigenous to the region, a wildlife park with native animals in natural surroundings, 194 species of birds and historic sites from the four original rice plantations which were laid out in colonial times. Many of these sites are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Four hundred thirty artists are represented in the sculpture garden making it the largest permanent outdoor collection of American figurative sculpture. Plaques containing thought provoking poetry and verse are scattered throughout the gardens.

Brookgreen Gardens is truly a place where art, nature, history, literature, mythology, and wildlife meld together and there is something for everyone at Brookgreen Gardens.

The gardens were created in 1931 by Anna and Archer Huntington. A search for a winter home in a moderate climate led them to South Carolina. The couple's mutual love for art, wildlife and conservation prompted them to create Brookgreen Gardens. Anna Hyatt Huntington was a well-known animal sculptor. Archer Huntington, heir to his father's railroad and shipyard fortune, was a dedicated scholar and art patron. What began with a few pieces of sculpture from their private collection and a place to display Anna Huntington's works has now become a Who's Who of American outdoor figurative sculpture.

Frederic Remington, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Daniel Chester French and James Earl Fraser's works are displayed along with those of Anna Huntington. The earliest statue in Brookgreen Gardens is dated 1855, Randolph Roger's "Nydia, The Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii." Modern day works are continually being added to the collection such as Carl Milles' outstanding 15 piece "The Fountain of Muses."

The entrance to the gardens on US Highway 17 South is marked by "The Fighting Stallions." The powerful statue was created by Anna Huntington as a landmark for Brookgreen Gardens.

There is always something in bloom in the gardens. They are particularly colorful in March and April when camellias, daphne, redbud, yellow jasmine, and five different kinds of magnolias are in bloom. In April, the azaleas, dogwood, flowering cherry, iris, banksia and cherokee roses are added.

The sculpture gardens contain seven different statues of the goddess, Diana, Bacchus in gold patina, huge stone carvings, such as "Youth Taming the Wild" and "Man Carving His Own Destiny" and enough animals to make children's tours a regular event of the gardens.

The Lowcountry Zoo with native animals, the Creek excursion along with workshops and special programs make this a place to visit often. For more information, visit www.brookgreen.org or call 843/235-6000.

The Terrace Cafe offers a limited menu of soups and sandwiches. A spacious picnic area with tables under moss laden oaks next to Jasmine Pond is an inviting place for a picnic lunch.

Brookgreen Gardens is truly one of South Carolina's hidden jewels. It combines art and nature in a way that heightens all of the senses leaving its visitors feeling serene and peaceful.

(Brookgreen Gardens is located on US Highway 17 Bypass between Murrells Inlet and Pawley's Island, SC. The gardens are opened from 9:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. daily except Christmas. Cost of admission is $18 for adults and $10 for children.)

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