Brookgreen Gardens, SC

There is a magical place in South Carolina, on the Hammock Coast, filled with history, culture, and natural beauty. It is a place where live oak trees create a canopy for spring daffodils and snowdrops to bloom in abundance. It is filled with serenity, quiet, and peacefulness. The natural paths lead you around water features, lily ponds, and natural gardens filled with the scents of azaleas and camellias each spring. Sculptures of various materials, shapes, and sizes complement the natural space and help to tell the gardens story. This special place is Brookgreen Garden's, South Carolina. 

Brookgreen is located in Murrells Inlet, near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The gardens are situated on 9,127 acres of land that once contained four rice farms and a southern plantation. The live oaks date back to the 1700s and are as stunning to look at as the sculpture art. 

During the early 1930s, the property was purchased by Archer Huntington and noted sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. They found the property by boat while looking for a quiet place for Anna to recover from Tuberculosis. Eighteen months later, they turned the property into "Brookgreen Gardens, A Society for Southeastern Flora and Fauna." 

The Huntingtons invested in this land and the local community. They began to build a homestead across from the current garden property near the ocean. Development began on the gardens and low country land. The Huntingtons were committed to bringing art to the area and paved the way for many artists after the Great Depression to showcase and sell their work. The sculpture galleries on the property reflect some of the very best of art from the 19th century to present day.  The property became the first public sculpture garden in the United States featuring American realistic sculpture. 

Diana of the Chase, created by Anne Huntington

When visiting this special place, you stand in awe under the old live oaks' strength and far-reaching limbs. They stand firm over the garden and frame the space for the incredible plants and sculptures that lie underneath. The gardens are a combination of formed spaces, with definition and purpose, and natural areas filled with native plants. In each area, there are incredible sculptures that stand as centerpieces. The sculptures are a part of the garden walls as well as placed in the natural landscape. 

Two of my favorite pieces of art are the copper cast sculpture of Diana by Augustus Saint Gaudens and  Diana of the Chase  by Anne Huntington. Anne made this in 1922. Shortly after it was created, she won the Academy's Saltus Medal for Merit and it was exhibited in that year's annual exhibit. 

The gardens and sculpture at Brookgreen go hand-in-hand. They flow together seamlessly and thoughtfully. I can't imagine one without the other. The combination of live oaks, the large and small sculptures, and the intense colors showcased each season of the year make this garden sing.  Camellias in every color, azaleas, and the sweetness of snowdrops on the lawn are a sight for sore eyes in the early spring. Summer gardens contain large blooming hydrangeas, lush green hostas, and magnolias. Whatever the time of year, the gardens showcase the land, the trees, and the art of this remarkable place. 

This garden tells a story by combining  art, nature, and history. The three ebb and flow, creating a beautiful symphony. 

The Silver Gardens

Gray oaks of mystery!

Beneath their cloister arches in pale rose. The morning Creeps. Epihany of day, Filling the breathing depths with prophecy. In lambent light and lyric preparation. To raise again the holy hymn of dawn. A thousand choristers, intone their endless canticles of brith, by flowered founts of woven shadows luring, Haunted of footfalls of the fox and fawn, here loves chill not the hands that reach to them, As roses of renown sting in the gathering. Come to the silver gardens of the South. Where whisper hath her monarchy and winds deftly devise live tapestries of shade. In glads of stillness patterned, and where the red-bird like a sanguine stain, brings tragedy to beauty. 



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