Brookgreen Gardens, one of South Carolina’s most precious gems, is a sculpture garden and wildlife preserve situated on a 9,100-acre property where ecosystems, art and romance unite. Opened in 1932 by Archer Huntington, these gardens was a gift to his wife, Anna Huntington, whom, together with her sister, had the keen eye and talented hands to create some of the most thought-provoking sculptures.
Over the years these gardens have been the “exhibition hall” of many a famous sculptor, including the works of Gutzom Borglum, Sally James Farnham and Louis St. Gaudens. A total of 1445 works can be viewed, which together with the fact that this is an Historical Landmark, makes the gardens the perfect day-trip for art-lovers and the connoisseur of the finer things in life. Those who want to try their own hand at sculpting can attend one of the many sculpting workshops and master classes offered on a regular basis. This forms one of the primary legs of the garden’s educational programs.
For the family looking simply for a day of strolling and leisure – the Lowcountry Trail is the place to be. This trail, which is the winner of the South Carolina Heritage Tourism Award, has a beautiful boardwalk with a view of Mainfield, a restored rice field that was once part of the original Brookgreen Plantation. The boardwalk furthermore crosses over a hillside that was once the passage for many an Africa-American slave on their way to and from work in the rice fields. The trail is therefore highlighted along the way with plaques and signage describing the ways, experiences and daily routines of a life long gone that belongs to the history books – yet a life that is nevertheless forgotten. An audio option is available as well, allowing the avid discoverer to listen to expert discussions surrounding the life and people of the slave era – with specific reference to the rice plantations of the then Brookgreen Plantation.
The trail is consequently an important point of departure for many a historical investigation and debate, with it providing various thought provoking facts and information for those history hunting or merely seeking a tangible part of history. These plaques and posts are accompanied by stainless steel sculptures of the typical plantation workers of the time – thereby revealing the intricate yet compelling narrative of the slave era. The trail forms the second part of the garden’s educational program.
If this is not enough reason to visit, the gardens also boast a special zoo and plantation site. The zoo has both native and domesticated animals, including alligators, bald eagles, river otters, white-tailed deer and mules. In the plantations sites special “trekker tours” are undertaken into the backroads of the once slave-bound plantations, allowing the more archeologically minded to investigate the sites of slavery for themselves.
Brookgreen Gardens offers something for each and all – the serious excavator and discoverer of history might want to visit the plantation sites, while the family enjoys the trail and the zoo. The art connoisseur will find fulfillment through admiring the many sculptures that have made the gardens famous, whilst the more daring might try their hand at sculpting themselves – whatever your liking or personality, Brookgreen Garden offers it all.