Last week, the old south – specifically Charleston, South Carolina welcomed me for a few days while I got to know some new people. I’ll get to what the meeting was about in just a second – but I wanted to share with you a tour of Middleton Place. I live in Boston – and though I am not a New Englander in the truest sense of the word (i.e. my family has not lived here for 3 or more generations…only just the last 10 years, so regionally, I am still considered a complete newbie) I did feel like quite the northerner as I toured my first plantation. Of course, it started with walking off the airplane (having departed from sub-freezing temps) to arrive unexpectedly to 81 deg and 100% humidity – which felt, to my unacclimated winter weary body, like I’d arrived on the surface of the sun.
Old moody trees, lowland waterways and spanish moss illustrate this place.
Camellias in full bloom at Middleton Place gardens. March 2015.
The spirit of this place was instantly palpable – beyond the warmth (both in genuine hospitality and in actual points on a thermometer), there were camellias in bloom everywhere, the spanish moss was abundant and the grass — well, it was unencumbered by feet of snow – and it was green.
I spent most of my time at Middleton Place which was one of many slave powered plantations that lined the Ashley River. This is, I learned, was the cradle of the Confederate secessionist movement and was subsequently among first casualties of the Civil War. The gardens here have however been restored and date back to 1741 – making them the oldest landscape gardens in America. I hope you enjoy this photo tour!
(and don’t forget to check out the announcement at the end)
The South Wing of the Tudor Mansion at Middleton Place, Charleston, SC. The original house and the north wing were destroyed beyond repair during the civil war and the subsequent earthquake of 1886. The brick remnants have been used throughout the current property for fences and newer outbuildings.
The south wing (River facing view) is the only part of the original home that still stands at Middleton Place, Charleston, SC.
Resurrection ferns live on many of the trees. These plants (latin name: Pleopeltis polypodioides) can lose up to 97% of their water but will spring back to life when wet. Most plants will die (permanently) when they lose around 10% of their water.
A view of the azalea hillside from across the Rice Mill Pond looking through Crepe Myrtle covered with Spanish Moss.
The restaurant garden at Middleton Place.
Gators – apparently the rule of the region is that if a body of water is as big as a bathtub, you can expect a gator lives in it.
This guy was so happy to give a perfect peacock pose.
And then he posed again (so helpful!). Peacocks as well as other animals (pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, horses etc.) are still part of the working farm at Middleton Place.
This statue of a wood nymph defines the line between the formal and more wild gardens. When the north invaded the south in the early days of the Civil War, this cherished statue was buried by slaves so that it would be protected from being destroyed.
Long vistas, symmetry, distant focal points and ordered beauty are strong elements of french classic inspired garden design.
A odd southern thing – a joggling board. From wikipedia: The main board preferably should be between 10 and 16 feet long and wide enough to sit on. Traditionally the boards were made from the flexible wood of a southern yellow pine tree. The end pieces, which are often shaped similar to a rocking chair to facilitate rocking side to side, hold the main board at sitting height.
Carolina Gold rice was the original cash crop of the region. Along the river, rice fields such as this one, were planted and maintained by slaves.
An allée of large magnolia trees line a reflecting pool.
Snowdrops in full bloom along the shore of the Ashey River. Early March 2015
The azalea hillside at Middleton Place garden in early March of 2015. Late spring, just before the whole hillside will erupt in colorful blooms.
The Announcement: I’ve partnered with Troy-bilt this year and it was a meeting with them that was the cause of this trip. I do partner with brands whose products I genuinely like and whose business values agree with my own. This probably doesn’t mean a whole lot to you but it is important for you to know why you will see a few posts here and there – they will always be noted and will be tagged with #saturday6 or #sponsored. I’ll also be writing a bit for their website and newsletter (if you are interested to check that out – I’ll make sure to tweet and facebook the links when they come). You can always be assured that my opinions and offerings are as unadulterated ever and always remain my own.
Images: Rochelle Greayer
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Troy-bilt. I am not an employee of Troy-bilt and all opinions are my own.