Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Two Days in Brookgreen

Nandina at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina
"Neptune" sculpted by Wheeler Williams
Nandina, also known as heavenly bamboo, thrives between sculpture and brick wall

Brookgreen Gardens, located in Murrell's Inlet in Georgetown County, South Carolina, is a treasure I'd driven past many times over the years while traveling up and down US Highway 17. Family and friends had told me I would find it enchanting and that it was the sort of place well suited for a day trip out of Charleston. Yet I never seemed to fit a visit into my schedule.

When I finally did visit Brookgreen, it was on the spur of the moment near the end of a calendar year. One of the characters in my novel-in-progress owned a Scottish deerhound and, in order to attempt an accurate portrayal of the dog's behavior, I was searching for information about the breed. While reading from Arthur S. Beaman's Lure Coursing, I learned that the author had purchased a deerhound from the kennel owned by sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. I remembered that she, along with her husband Archer Huntington, had created Brookgreen Gardens, and I decided it was time for a day trip.

Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington with one of her beloved Scottish deerhounds
"The Visionaries" by Anna Hyatt Huntington
Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington and one of Anna's beloved Scottish deerhounds

I went alone that first time and wandered through various garden rooms, soaking in the landscape and sculptures. Winter in the Lowcountry of South Carolina emits a stark beauty, but a beauty nonetheless. Sculptures of Diana, bright red berries, and beards of Spanish moss drew my attention, as did Anna Hyatt Huntington’s large sculpture “The Visionaries,” a portrayal of Archer and Anna planning the gardens accompanied by a Scottish deerhound. The back of the sculpture included an inscription of “The Silver Gardens,” a poem written by Archer.

On very cold days, like that one, I'm not prone to linger. And on that day I did not. Other than stopping in the restaurant for a late lunch, I kept moving, pausing only to take photographs and to read plaques that provided information about the works of art and their creators.

Sculpture: Fawn    Sculptor: Albert Stewart
"Fawn" by sculptor Albert Stewart is located in the children's garden
with Oregon grape (mahonia aquifolium) and azaleas in the background
Three and a half months later, in April, I returned to Brookgreen Gardens with my daughter and her three young sons in tow. Azaleas and a multitude of other plants were in bloom. We used the map this time and visited garden rooms I'd miss during my earlier visit. One of those was the Peace Garden Room for Children - a big hit with my grandsons. The children's garden included sculptures of a big bear and a little bear sitting back to back, a girl with flute sitting atop a sunflower, a curled up fawn, and a caterpillar that delighted my youngest grandson, a toddler at the time of our visit.

Azalea blossoms
"Pledge of Allegiance" by Glenna Goodacre
Part of "Pledge of Allegiance" by sculptor Glenna Goodacre

Archer Huntington, heir to fortune, and Anna Hyatt, a successful sculptor, married on March 10, 1923, his fifty-third birthday and her forty-seventh. Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington Beach State Park host a 3-in-1 Day to celebrate.

Archer Huntington, known for his philanthropy, founded The Hispanic Society of America in New York and the Mariner’s Museum in Virginia, and with his wife Anna Hyatt Huntington co-founded Brookgreen Gardens. The Huntington Sculpture Garden, the first public sculpture garden in America, is a component of Brookgreen Gardens. It opened in 1932.


Brookgreen Gardens, as a whole consists of more than nine thousand acres. The Huntington Sculpture Garden consists of more than thirty-five acres. Other components of Brookgreen Gardens are the Lowcountry History and Wildlife Preserve and the Center for American Sculpture.

Sculpture: Griffin  Sculptor: Paul Howard Manship
"Griffin" sculpted by Paul Howard Manship

Native azalea
Native Azalea
Subsequent to my two visits, a seasonal exhibit, a butterfly garden and house has opened at Brookgreen’s Lowcountry Zoo. My own favorite Lowcountry Zoo experiences, aside from witnessing my grandsons’ enjoyment, were seeing a fox asleep on a tree branch, watching river otters swim, and seeing fox squirrels leaping nearby.
Sunflowers by Charles Parks at Brookgreen Gardens
The top portion of "Sunflowers" by Charles Parks 

Currently Brookgreen Gardens charges $14 for adult admission  (ages nineteen to sixty-four), $12 for those sixty-five or older and for young adults, $7 for children ages four to twelve. Younger children are admitted free. Tickets are valid for seven days, which is brilliant since there is so much to see and do at Brookgreen.

Fountain of the Muses by Carl Milles at Brookgreen Gardens
Foreground: Foxgloves
Background: "Fountain of the Muses" by sculptor Carl Milles

For more information about Brookgreen Gardens visit their website: http://www.brookgreen.org/

Diana of the Chase by Anna Hyatt Huntington
"Diana of the Chase" by Anna Hyatt Huntington
"Griffin" by Paul Howard Manship, right background

No comments:

Post a Comment