For those of you who know me, I am all about all things beautiful and I seek the beauty in all things. On a recent visit to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I did not have to go far to find one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever visited…..Brookgreen Gardens.
Located in the Low Country of South Carolina, across the street from Atalaya, which is on the grounds of Huntington Beach State Park, Brookgreen Gardens should be on every gardeners bucket list or vision board. My journey to Brookgreen took me a mere thirty minutes from Myrtle Beach. I had hoped to also visit Atalaya on the same trip, but had no idea of what was in store for me at Brookgreen Gardens.
Archer M. and Anna Hyatt Huntington created this naturalistic oasis of beauty out of their love for each other and their love of nature.. Mr. Archer Huntington was a man who never really had to worry about money, a wealthy industrialist/philanthropist and a scholar. Mrs. Anna Huntington was a respected artist and sculptor. One of the most awesome things about this couple is that they did not have a formal college education. Both of these fine people were either privately tutored or self taught…..simply amazing. To see what they have created should inspire anyone to just DO what you are inspired to do.
The Huntington’s bought four rice plantations in what is now known as Murrells Inlet, Georgetown County, South Carolina, bordering the banks of the Waccamaw River. The thought process was to settle in an area that would help Anna’s Tuberculosis, a warmer winter climate during the winter months (they lived in New York and Connecticut), provide a place where she could work as an artist and exhibit her art as well. They built Atalaya, which they considered their Winter home. Across the road they developed Brookgreen Gardens. In doing so, they were responsible for opening America’s first public outdoor sculpture garden. Oh what a garden it is!!! You can find out more about the Huntington’s and their vision at www.brookgreen.org …however…I need to share a little about the gardens………those glorious gardens…..the gardens that pop up in my mind at random times throughout the day.
If you are an art lover, then imagine seeing a life size statue of Homer….
Diana of the Chase…………………
The Fountain of The Muses…………………….
all in one place,each surrounded by amazing floral combinations, water features and dragonfly’s. Oh the dragonflies were in such abundance. Each time I paused….this garden does make one pause often and repeatedly….a dragon fly would make it’s presence known. Resting on my shoulder, my shoes, my camera, as well as the art in the garden. This garden with all of it’s sculptures and vignettes was truly a garden filled with love and life.
I will not spoil it for you, as this is a garden that must be seen and appreciated individually, but a few things jumped out at me, causing me to anticipate my next visit. I love texture. I love to see textures mixed and in abundance. There are a few spaces where the textural tapestry of green just makes you gasp in amazement.
There were some vignettes that spoke to texture with minimal bright colors. The cool greens allowed your eye to rest, even though the sculptures within the garden, would catch your eye and allow one to mentally look at the vignette as a picture within a bigger picture. The dappled light of certain areas would make something so ordinary, like a little bloom, moss hanging from the branches above or hydrangeas embracing a borrowed view “POP” right before your eyes.
The sounds………………oh the sounds of nature – not cars, buses or emergency vehicles….just nature. The buzzing in my ear from the wings of the dragon flies, the sounds of baby birds, the many fountains/water features and on this particular day, the sound of rain. The rain steadily, but gently dancing on the leaves, in the ponds, on the sculptures and on the pathways was like an outdoor symphony, quietly in 3D. I almost got soaked, but I did not care, because I was mentally immersed in all that Brookgreen had to offer me at that moment. Entering this garden was like entering a dream on a hot summers day in the south, complete with mature alleys of Live Oaks that once led to the Big House (as the slaves would call it) which Mrs. Huntington used as a central point of the garden design, which on paper resembled the shape of a butterfly, with opened wings. I know…simply amazing. The Huntington’s were on a mission to surround themselves with all things beautiful, while appreciating and preserving nature, yet capturing and exhibiting the essence of Mrs. Huntington’s work. I get emotional when I think of the discussions they might have had as they walked among the naturalistic landscape at various times of the year to really create their version of beauty.
The garden rooms. Oh the different garden rooms with an abundance of horticultural delights. from the Climbing Lillies to the Cleome, from the Hosta’s to the Heuchera, from the Native Pines to the Crepe Myrtles….and of course, I always have a favorite. The Poetry Room…..
There is no way to enjoy all of Brookgreen Gardens in one day, Far too much is offered not just for the gardener, but for children ( the Low Country Zoo Discover Room and Enchanted Storybook Forest), butterfly enthusiasts, Cypress Aviary, Plantation History and Nature Tour, boat cruises, a beautiful collection of Long Needle Pines, a fantabulous gift shop and The Poetry Garden Room…. and there is so much more!!! For the cost of the ticket, a mere $14.00, one can visit and re-visit for 7 consecutive days. No wonder Brookgreen Gardens is considered a National Historic Landmark and one of the top 10 public gardens in the United States.. Now to wait til Christmas, when I hope to return and spend more time and perhaps visit Atalaya and Huntington beach as well….
I wish horses could fly….