Friday, May 31, 2013

A Wild and Peaceful Garden

Tower of the Unitarian Church of Charleston
Charleston's historic Unitarian Church
Almost exactly twenty-six years ago I moved to the Lowcountry and embarked on a career in accounting. The first firm I worked for had its offices on King Street in Charleston. An adjacent path ran from King to the cemetery of the Unitarian Church located on Archdale Street. When things got stressful, as they do in the deadline-driven world of accounting, I sometimes headed outside to walk. That's how I first discovered this distinctive churchyard garden. 

Blue plumbago and pale pink roses
Blue plumbago and pink roses

What I love about the Garden of Remembrance is its riotous vegetation. How can I feel guilty about the untidiness of my own garden when here I see the dazzling communion of weeds and cultivated plants?

Lilies mingle with weeds

In 1989 Hurricane Hugo overwhelmed Charleston. Its winds removed the roof from one of the two buildings that housed the accounting firm. The roofer got to work quickly, but not until after photographs were taken to document the extent of damage. I remember seeing the pictures during those first terrible days when the whole world seemed to have turned upside down, a time when armed members of the National Guard roamed the streets and a nearby restaurant cooked chicken outside on a grill because electricity hadn't yet been restored. How ludicrous it all seemed. Those photographs captured an unusual view: in the foreground, file cabinets stood in the roofless attic; in the background, blue sky and the tower of the Unitarian Church dominated.

Garden of Remembrance
Garden of Remembrance

Most often when I think of this church, I think of its cemetery garden. I think of the gift of serenity -- of being allowed a chance to calm down before returning to a less-than-peaceful world. 
Red canna
Canna lily

For more information about the Garden of Remembrance, visit the  Unitarian Church of Charleston's website:

1 comment:

  1. Good commentary and well written! That garden/cemetery continues to be a place of peace and an inspiration for those who walk through it.
    And yes, I remember the devastation of Hugo. It's a lifelong memory for anyone who was there, but hardly any scars remain on the landscape - just in people's minds.