Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Neither Jim nor I had ever been to a plantation before.  We had seen plenty of them in movies about the south and were eager for this first hand experience.  Everything we read said don't miss Magnolia Plantation, so we didn't.   What a paradise and just minutes from downtown Charleston!

This was our first view of it as we approached the Gate.  We were the first visitors for the day arriving at 8:00 AM sharp.  (Never let it be said that we sleep in on vacations!)  These photos are not photoshopped, no need.  The green is the greenest of greens!  The oxygen was tangible and delicious.  And the a gentle hug! 

Thomas Drayton and his wife Ann came here from Barbados to the new English colony of Charlestown and established Magnolia Plantation along the Ashley River in 1679.  This Plantation has been passed from generation to generation in the family for 300 years now.

During Colonial times the Plantation and its owners amassed a great deal of wealth through the cultivation of rice.  Later in the Plantation's history, 8,000 British troops would occupy the fields here during the Revolutionary War.  But they were held off and never captured the land.  It is hard to imagine that anything resembling war had ever come near this tranquil place but, it was also threatened severely during the Civil War.  Through both wars it survived although the rice crops were no longer a viable way of survival for the family after the South lost the war.

It was at that time decided that they would open the Plantation and Gardens to the public and thus it became the first public garden in the United States.  That was five years after the Civil War ended in 1870.  To this day the admission prices of this breathtaking tourist attraction have helped maintain this gorgeous plantation.  You can read more about the history of the plantation on their website.    They have some nice animation on the site and even some short videos.  Y'all don't miss it, if you come this way!

The heavy, black iron gates were guarded by the 
beautifully casted bronze lions on each side of the entrance.

Peacocks roam freely in this part of the 
Plantation and this one came out to greet us.

The flowers are very plentiful and the colors were 
so vibrant here on this early overcast morning.

One of the intriguing things to me has always been the Spanish Moss that hangs from the trees.  Seriously, what is a plantation without it?  One of the things you will hear on every tour in the south...I'll just tell you is neither Spanish or moss.  But it is pretty cool and indigenous to this area in the country.  Remember you should not touch it as it is a chiggers carrier. So no stuffing your DIY projects with it, ladies.

One of these trains took us out near the old rice fields, now swamps where we saw some interesting wild life.  The scenery was just magnificent.  Being early it was just us, the driver and one other couple.  Sweet!

Once the rice fields, now this...

Plantation Pets...Whoa, Baby!

This gator, about a 12 footer, was sunning himself (using the term loosely) on this "Gator Chase Lounge." They really call them slant boards but we thought that quite unimaginative.  Gators do not do well in the cold weather apparently.  This is something I didn't know, nor could I have cared less about until the next moment when we heard this. "Gators actually must get out of the water to warm up and digest their food or they will die."  Ah, what???  Did I mention this tiny elevated road is surrounded by water?  Yep.  They can easily just slither right up the tiny levy upon which we are now touring in a giant golf cart.  Now I wished the thing was overflowing with people increasing the items on the menu.  Yikes.  In fact, we did see one big one just up on the road not far from here.  So much for the slant boards.  I was counting heavily on the fact they were sunning to digest their food so they must have already had breakfast.  Right?

These are some little fledglings of some giant bird parents.  They are just a few weeks old and ready to fly out of the nest soon.  They are quite large for babies, that is for sure.  The nest is pretty huge if you can make it out here.  Jim took this with our telephoto lens.

There were lots of beautiful exotic looking birds and I cannot remember the name of a single one.  Hmmm.  Oh well.  I love to listen to birds but am not much of a bird watcher usually, but it was a nice distraction from the gators slithering around.  This was one of those moments you are screaming inside and trying to act normal.  Can you relate?

These are some of the slave houses that found no more use after the Emancipation Proclamation in the mid 1860s.  God bless, Abe Lincoln.  But it did shut their operation down...cold turkey.  No more rice was ever grown on this Plantation.  No one that had a choice wanted to swim with the gators.

The lawned areas around the Plantation
 are just so beautiful!

We never did get a full-on photo of the plantation house and you cannot take photos inside so I am borrowing one from their website.  The house was not overwhelming but the wrap around porch was to die for.  We sat out there for quite awhile and just enjoyed the views.

This is part of what we saw from the veranda!

We ate lunch near the house at the Peacock Cafe.  We told people we ate Gator Dogs for lunch but in reality it is a crime to eat a just plain old hot dogs.  How boring.  We did try some fried peanuts in a shell.  Mediocre...why fried??  Why the shells?  But lest you think we had no fun at lunch, the peacocks performed for us.

There is something about a fancy peacock that is just too pretty to be male.   They always remind me of an arrogant, cocky man struttin' his stuff.  These fellas did not disappoint.  They would emerge one by one from their pens and walk out to a certain point just in front of the outdoor tables and fan their tails feathers.  As though they were on a fashion runway, they'd then slowly turn and then stop for a photo and then continue on their slow-mo pirouette and hold that pose.  I kid you not, it was so hilarious!

Their navy and lime green is just so haute couture!

True words that are fitting for this garden!
You could take photos of these beautiful gardens
 all day long and never tire or lack for beauty.

This was so pretty I wanted to take
 it home for our backyard!

They also had a great wet marsh cruise on a pontoon type of boat that we took before lunch.  I was happy it was on one of those floating thingies and not too close to the water as the gators are all over that place.  The skipper was just thrilled to bring us very close to shore to see these little babies gators only about 24 inches long right now.  Jim was eating all this up while I was thinking about us getting eaten up by their mother!

Ewww!  Moving right along!

Along the river bank.  What a lovely stroll.
These flowers stretched for a long while
 each perfect and beautiful. 
People think this just happens...
they do not tend flowers, obviously.

My old knees are not enthusiasts 
of very long walks usually
 but this one was worth every bit of it.

They must employ many gardeners,
Everywhere you look is perfection.

They hold a lot of weddings and other fancy functions here at Magnolia.  This bridge seems to be featured a lot on the website so borrowed this photo from there.  We did not see it for some reason. It might have been on the garden tour which was not running that day due to inclement weather.

So hoping you enjoyed your armchair tour of South Carolina's gem, The Magnolia Plantation.  Thanks for coming with us!  Beautiful, isn't it?


Marie said...

Beautiful indeed Bonnie, but I'm like you, they can keep the Gators and Chiggers! None of those in Wales, lol. Come on over! xxoo

Sister Susie Says said...

Your first picture is so peaceful looking!
The bronze lion is beautiful. Won't it be great when the lion will lie down with the lamb!
I love peacocks. They can be very noisy, but their beauty takes away from their noise
I'd have dibs on the back seat of the train that takes you on your tour!
Plantation pet? I had one in my back yard about 365 feet from my house and pool! It was about 8 foot long. I always check before I go in my pool, ha!
I love the birds! I'm having many of the Sandhill cranes in my yard. Right now I have a scrub jay family in my night jasmine bush.
Wouldn't we all like a veranda! What a nice sight to see from a veranda! I've always wanted an observation deck on my house to view the beautiful night sky and stars!
Last year I had a baby gator about 1 1/2 foot long run across my yard. My neighbor and I tried to catch him for the Fl. wildlife to come and get it, but when he started grunting for his mom, we decided to leave him alone! ha!
All of your pictures of the flowers and trees are just gorgeous!
Love to you and yours, Susan