Magnolia Plantation & Gardens - Flowers & Gators

Trip Start Oct 18, 2010
Trip End Oct 23, 2013

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Flag of United States  , South Carolina
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We spent the entire day at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. According to the brochure, "travel writer Charles Kuralt described it as 'my greatest Charleston pleasure.'" We agree, Even after 7 hours, we did not see everything. 

Established by Thomas Drayton in 1676 Magnolia Plantation was originally a rice plantation.  In the mid-1800s, Reverend John Drayton began to plant informal gardens, introducing hundreds of camellias and azaleas as well as other plants. After the civil war, when the plantation could no longer support rice production without slavery, garden tours became a revenue source.

Upon entry to the plantation, we opened a mailbox containing a list of the various tours. A tiny green lizard peeked out, then scrambled away. The lady in the ticket booth told us, “Lizards are everywhere. One was in my bra this morning. My kids thought it was hysterical.”

We learned more Charleston / Southern facts:

- Before the Civil War, Charleston was the richest US city and rice was the primary plantation crop

- By the 1770s, the US produced 1/3 of the world’s rice

- Spanish moss is neither Spanish nor moss. It’s an air plant.

We toured the slave cabins, some occupied by families of former slaves until the late 1960s. Our guide was a preservationist and archaeologist who preserves and restores the cabins and uses artifacts to develop knowledge about the slave’s lives.  He exuded passion about his work and studies and we were rapt with his talk.

At lunch, we sat outside. I’ve seen all sorts of critters begging food at outdoor eateries, but today was a real surprise – a peacock was making his rounds at every table begging for food.

Before exiting the park, we walked the Audubon Swamp Garden. Beautiful and Surreal. And it didn’t smell like swamp gas at all!

As we walked to the car, two vultures were circling right over me. I commented to Dave, "I feel so sticky and sweaty, I hope I'm not attracting them."  Dave gave a technical answer "No, Vultures can spell decomposing flesh something in the order of 1 part per million, so it's not you." I hope what he really meant was, "you don't smell that bad!"

While the gardens were beautiful at this time of year, they must be stunning in late March and April when the magnolias, azaleas, camellias and wisteria are in full bloom.

Garden sign: Give fools their gold and knaves their power,
Let their fortunes bubbles rise and fall,
Who sows a field or trains a flower or plants a tree,
is more than all.   Whittier

Everyone talks about their Bucket List. Most bucket lists seem to be fairly short. Mine is huge, and when I think I’m going to cross something off the list, it seems I add two or three new things. We now want to come back to Charleston to do more exploring. We have to come both in the spring to see Magnolia Plantations, during the holidays to see the Festival of Lights.

Tomorrow we start to head back north. We will spend a couple of days in Corbin, KY which is half-way between Charleston and Chicago. It has Cumberland falls, the 2nd biggest waterfall east of the Mississippi. The falls have a lunar rainbow on nights with a full moon – too bad we missed the full moon by a few days (oops, just added another thing to my Bucket List).
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