Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Trip Start Dec 24, 2010
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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Flag of United States  , South Carolina
Monday, April 4, 2011

We headed out near ten AM today for the Plantation.  It's less than ten miles from the park. When we arrived, there were already numerous people there, including tour busses, school busses and a whole raft of automobiles.  We parked Sooby and applied a generous coat of sun screen so as not to embarrass oursefs.  We're slow learners, but to make up for it we forget real fast. ;0)

We bought a combo-ticket which entitled us to go on three tours via vehicle, visit the mansion and then to visit the marvelous Audobon Swamp.

The first trip was a tour of the perimeter of the plantation.  It was owned by the Drayton family in 1676. whose heirs still own and manage the remaining five hundred acre plantation.  The wealth was acquired by raising "Carolina Gold", which is rice.  The original rice was brought over and planted by a slave from West Africa, for his family's use.  It was found by the Drayton Family, sampled, and thus the plantation came to be.  At one time, this plantation exported a large portion of the rice in the world.  Of course, it first had to be processed and sent to England to be taxed.  The rice fields are no longer maintained, but were ingeniously operated, much the same way as those in West Africa.  Water from the Ashley River was used to irrigate.  The Ashley is brackish at high tide.  That is, it is both salty and pure.  The floodgates were opened and the water sampled for saltiness and then closed when the operator, a young slave child, tasted the salt.  The tour of the Slave quarters included much history of the process and history of how it all came to be.  This was on our second tour.  Our guide, Joe, from this area gave a very frank explanation of the slave days.  The slaves spoke a pigeon language, made up of English and their West African dialect, and was called Gullah.  Joe and his brothers still spoke this language as children and were required to have speech therapy to learn to speak correctly and slow enough to be understood.  I should add that Joe is white.  An interesting recent history... 

The photos show four cabins which were constructed at different times in history, from the mid-eighteen hundreds until 1969.  They are duplexes.  One side of each has been restored to it's original condition to give you an idea of how they lived then.  One family occupied the latest house until 1991.  Their life was simple, consisting mainly of labor in one form or another.  A large garden for their use was maintained to the rear of the cabins.  There is currently a garden there with collard greens gone to seed and cabbages ready to pick.  i think that this tour was one of my favorite tours and that I learned the most from it.  All of the manual labor, and there was plenty of it, was done by slaves.  All of the rice fields and the canal were hand dug by them.  Without this labor, the wealth of the Drayton family would not have been,

We also toured the mansion.  This is the third house built on the same foundation, with some additions.  The first was destroyed by a lightning fire in 1810.  It was rebuilt and later destroyed by General Sherman's troops during the Civil War.  The family had a hunting lodge, some fourteen miles upriver from the plantation.  That house was dis-assembled and floated down the Ashley and re-assembled on that same foundation.  Four rooms were later added by a daughter who inherited the plantation.

The current home is nice, but not impressive.  The furniture and accessories are beautiful and quite old, but vestiges of the hunting lodge still remain which affects it's beauty.  The gardens, on the other hand, are outstanding.  The camellias have all nearly bloomed and fallen, but I did get one good shot of a pink one, which is included in the photos.  The azaleas are in full bloom now and are most impressive.  Most are pink to red, but some are peach in hue and are my favorites.  As usual, due to the comments I receive, I have included several pictures of flowers.  There are two beautiful bridges on the grounds which you will see.

The swamp tour was the most peaceful.  We saw numerous birds, including the anhinga, a new one to us.  It's of the chicken family, yet resembles other duck-like birds.  It has a pointed beak and chicken-like claws as opposed to webbed-feet.  It feeds on fish and small aquatic life.  We also saw more alligators here than anywhere, including one that was about eighteen feet in length.  How do you tell the length of a gator?  If you measure the distance from his eyes to the end of his nose and convert that number into feet, you'll have the length.  The trick is to sneak up on him and do the measuring.  The math is a snap after that!

 The green on top of virtually all of the water here is duck grass.  It's high in protein and good for the migrating waterfowl that frequent the area each year.  It looks so much like grass, that it said that many a hunting dog has run out on it, only to find that it's actually water!

Our last effort was at the Audobon Swamp.  John James Audobon, a French-American artist, spent much of his time here, drawing many species of birds for his collection.  He was close to the Drayton family and thus the swamp was named in his honor.  It's a collection of raised wooden walkways and trails.  We saw numerous birds and an egret rookery.  Several egrets were nesting there, so I have several picture of them too.  i did catch site of a small family of ducklings with their mom.  We also saw an ibis for the first time in many weeks.  The ibis is also a favorite.  They have long curved orange beaks and feed from the bottom of the water on shrimp etc.

It was a long day and we're both tuckered.  Lynnie's abed and I'm writing at nearly ten PM.  It was a great day today with the temperature in the low eighties and a brisk breeze.  Lots of things moving due to the wind, including a front from the northwest.  We'll stay two more nights to let the weather stabilize and then s-l-o-w-l-y move north.  Our next target is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, less than a hundred miles north.

Tomorrow we have no set plans, waiting for mother nature to guide our activities.  More later, friends...

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