I knew we had to visit Magnolia Plantation and Gardens on our next visit to Charleston after reading about it online and watching their promotional videos. Even though it was going to be off-season for many blooming plants, I wanted to see the white and red bridges they are known for and walk the Audubon Trail over the black cypress swamps.
I was hopeful that when we move to Charleston MPG might become a frequent place to seek inspiration for my art. If the landscape disappointed then at least the Audubon Trail would be an excellent place for birding.
Well, we just returned from Charleston and experienced our first visit to Magnolia Plantation. We walked around in awe, traversing the meandering natural paths through one of the last large-scale Romantic Gardens remaining in the United States. We soon discovered there is no “off-season” at Magnolia Plantation. We had walked into a magical world of wonderment!
Azaleas in the spring, hydrangeas in the summer, camellias in the fall and winter, offer splashes of color mixed in with a vast variety of green flora. Spanish Moss hangs from grand, southern live oaks and bald cypress trees. Ponds with painted bridges instantly evoke the feeling that one must be in Giverny and Monet must be around the corner with his French easel.
The Director of Gardens, Tom Johnson, states on the plantation’s website, “…these gardens were designed to appeal directly to the soul.” They most definitely have succeeded and my hope for finding inspiration was fulfilled.
Here are a few more photographs from our all too brief visit to the gardens.
As far as the birding goes we hit it on an off day. We did however see four or five alligators sunning themselves and lurking in the ponds. A number of Blue-winged Teal ducks were way out on the water. Some rather large turtles were also sunning themselves alongside the alligators. In the springtime there are a number of heron and egret rookeries that are within range of sight from the walking paths.
Even though we don’t yet live nearby, we signed up for an annual membership. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens will become the subject of many future paintings for me. Everywhere I looked I saw a painting. Through the majestic trees and reflecting on the many watery surfaces was dramatic light: backlighting, speckled light, filtered light, strong frontal light, all of which would have excited the Masters of French Impressionism.
My first painting of the gardens will most likely be of the red bridge. We were both immediately taken with it. We’re looking forward to experiencing all four seasons of the Romantic Gardens. A painter could spend a lifetime painting these Eden-like grounds just across the Ashley River from downtown Charleston.
Thank you as always for reading my journal and for your interest in my art and photography. Please check back soon to see if the red bridge is on my easel!
Here is an informative video on Magnolia Plantation and Gardens you may enjoy!