Wednesday, April 16, 2014

4/16/14 Magnolia Plantation - Audubon Swamp Gardens

     The last two days we have enjoyed the natural beauty of Magnolia Plantation's gardens and grounds immediately surrounding the main house.  Today, our final day at Magnolia, we will take a look at a few other areas.  As we head away from the main house, we pass the wildlife center, complete with a petting zoo, many common farm animals, an abundance of local deer, raccoon, squirrels, birds and even a reptile house displaying many of the snakes and turtles indigenous to this area.

     Then we head past a number of preserved slave quarters.  These cabins had separate entrances for two families with a shared fireplace.  Notice the garden in the back with the wooden slat fence to try to keep animals from foraging on the vegetable crop.

     Out past the pastures we head until we arrive at a place on the grounds that has a completely different feel and unique beauty all of its own.

     We arrive at several miles of trails through natural habitats, a large portion of which is the Audubon Swamp Gardens.  Ample wooden walkways wander through many of the various eco systems that transition from hardwood forest, through marshes and into the swamp area.

     John Audubon, who lived from 1785 to 1851 was a noted illustrator and created the first comprehensive catalog of North American birds and wildlife.  He got off to a rough start - after he had made his first 200 drawings, he took a short visit to the east coast.  Upon returning to his home in Kentucky, he found rats had eaten the entire collection !!

John Audubon

     He determined to do a more comprehensive collection than ever, and ultimately did an extensive book that was finished by his children.  This work was assisted by the Rev. John Bachman of Charleston SC, but I am not sure if that was the link that brought his name to this section of the plantation.  

     Regardless of the reason for the name, if you like to view a large variety of animals in the wild this is a great opportunity.  I saw but was unable to photograph many more species than shown here, including deer, marsh rabbit, countless birds, various types of turtles and lizards - just make sure you visit it when you are at Magnolia.

     One thing about Magnolia Plantation, there are plenty of sitting areas in beautiful spots that just beg you to sit quietly with your thoughts and observe the surroundings you find yourself in.

    Large birds have nests everywhere - hundreds of heron, egret, cormorant and many other birds nest in large swaths of brush and trees.  It is quite a racket as they all settle in for the evening and squabble over various perches.

     And of course no swamp is complete without its reptiles.  Alligators abound - some of them pretty impressive at 12 feet long or so.  Here are a few smaller ones.  Since larger alligators eat smaller ones, the fellow on top is still potentially on the menu for others.  But once they reach seven or eight feet they have come into their own.  

     And here is a fine fellow sunning himself on a log.  I think he is a cotton-mouth, but I don't know snake species that well.  He was in the water and he didn't rattle at me, so odds are pretty good that is accurate.

    Cherokee Roses are in bloom this time of year - thorny vines that are putting on beautiful displays as they look to the next generation of their own kind.

     Another cool thing in the swamp is the sculptures Zan Smith did for Magnolia.  Keep your eyes open for his display which drifts around the swamp on a vegetation covered floating platform.  It is titled "Music of the Swamp."  I always enjoy your work Zan.

     I like this American Holly tree's diet.  I guess you really are what you eat ...

     A special thanks to Magnolia's Herb Frazier.  He is the Public Relations and Marketing Manager, and smoothed the way for me to deliver these awesome images the last few days.  Herb is a published author, having written a book entitled "Behind God's Back," which documents a good bit of the previously unwritten history of the Cainhoy and Huger areas of South Carolina.  You can pick the book up through Herb's website,  

     And speaking of signs brings us to today's parting shot.  I spotted this on my way to Savannah GA.  I don't know if the fellow is lonely and bored or a narcissistic cross dresser, but give him credit for creativity.  Not the most anonymous form of vandalism, but it caught my eye.

     If you would like to contribute to this journey or to the foundation, just click Here.  If you have no idea what this is about, Click Here and Here.  Click Here to email me, and if you want to read today's meditation just click Here.  Thanks for your interest and support!

     We have an exciting two weeks coming up as we finish touring Savannah by visiting the remaining stops on the Old Savannah Tours trolley.  

Have a great Thursday everyone !!

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