Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Brookgreen Gardens; SC 7/9/14

"Forest Idyl" by Albin Polasek;  1930

"Pause friend, and strip out from your heart
All vanity, all bitterness, all hate;
Quench, for this hour, the fever of your fears.
Then, treading softly, pass within this gate.
There, where the ancient trees wait, hushed and dim,
May you find God, and walk awhile with him."

     (Penned by Pearl Council Hiatt, these words adorn a plaque on the entryway to one of the gardens at Brookgreen.)  

     You know you are in for a treat from the moment you arrive at the front gates of Brookgreen Gardens.  A larger than life sculpture placed within the waters of a large clover shaped fountain the entryway along US Rt. 17.

Molly Mercer

     Molly Mercer, who handles marketing for the gardens, was a big help acclimating me with the site.  Over 1600 sculptures adorn the property, all the result of the vision of Archer and Anna Huntington.  Anna was a very talented sculptor, and they both were accomplished poets.  They purchased 4 plantations that totaled 9100 acres, and originally used just a portion of their property to showcase Anna's work.  Over time, it has accumulated probably the most significant collection of sculptures in North America.

     There are several other aspects of the plantation that I don't have the space to cover here.  A couple are the tours of the neighboring Oaks Plantation, pontoon boat rides through the rice fields and along the local river, Gullah history and cultural programs, the zoo, butterfly gardens and numerous others.  One could easily spend the better part of a week exploring here, and for a photographer there is the opportunity for a few months worth of good shots. 

     Several large ponds and lakes lie along the long drive back, and if you look close you can see that there is a sculpture every few hundred feet along the banks.

     Miles of walkways lead to hidden treasures within.  As the inscription suggests, if one can leave the world behind for just a little while, discovering Brookgreen can be a journey of appreciation and self discovery.

     Paths lead through timeless glens of ancient live oaks festooned with braids of Spanish Moss.  A huge variety of flora from all corners of the earth add unique colors and textures at every turn.

     And the fountains - there are fountains of all manner of shapes and sizes.

"Riders of the Dawn"  Adolph Weinman 1940-42

     If you want a different atmosphere, all you have to do is walk another few hundred feet and you emerge into a whole new landscape.

     This next fountain is elevated about four feet so to serve as a reservoir for many of the other fountains.  

     Various pavilions emerge from the wood as you walk along.  One is dedicated to the history of the area.  The whole floor is an aerial photograph of the greater Georgetown area.  

     Stone tools that have been found nearby, some dating over 4,000 years old, are housed here.  There are many photographs and other informative exhibits.

     Watercraft from various eras are represented, along with tools, crops and animals.

Lindsey McClain

     I sat down on a bench in this area of the gardens, and one of the many volunteers (Lindsey McClain) sat down beside me.  After a bit of talking about the plantation, we realized that she was raised in the same small town in Ohio as I, she knew my mother and several of my siblings - what a small world !!

     The place is great for children - one of many things that you will come upon is an enchanted village of sorts.  Numerous different "child size" houses themed after children's books and tales are available to be explored. 

     Back in the gardens, it seems every turn brings a new little surprise.  I really liked this sculpture.

     Little hidden gardens abound, and much thought has been put into the layout of each garden and the sculptures it houses.

"Sunflowers"  Charles Cropper 1974

     There is a big "children's garden," chock full of various fantasy sculptures.  This little girl looks ecstatic to have caught herself a bullfrog.

Edith Parsons; 1917

     And this girl has a turtle train going with all of her valued possessions along for the ride.

"The Tortoise Train"  W. Stanley Proctor

     Even the seating areas are works of art.

     This is a sundial made of bronze.

Brenda Putnam

"Wood Nymphs"  Henry Herring 1932

     There are several pavilions that house sculptures.  I recognized the following two.

"The end of the trail"  Fraser; 1915

"The Bronco Buster"  Remington; 1895 

     One whole building is dedicated to the work of Kent Ullberg.  His pieces are all of wildlife, and his sense of proportion and posture is remarkable.

Kent Ullberg

Kent Ullberg

    Many of the works are eerily life-like.

"The water bearers"  Glenna Goodacre 1985-86

    But the Huntington's contributions to society did not end here.  Across the street is property that they have allowed the State of South Carolina to use as a park.  Crossing US 17 and driving past water gates on an old rice levee, we find another cool place.

     This is Huntington State Park, a facility with several pavilions, hookups for RV's and a whole lotta beach.

     Sitting on this property is Atalaya, the winter residence built by the Huntington's in 1931.  There were no plans for this place - it was built day by day from the verbal instructions of Archer Huntington.  

     I got a rough measurement of the place - it is 230 feet by 260 feet, which adds up to about 60,000 square feet that are enclosed.  That is quite a project to build one day at a time, relying on nothing more than a picture in your head.

     Archer had many accomplishments himself.  There are 12 museums and academies that owe their existence to him, and numerous of his poems and sayings adorn plaques in the gardens.

     And today's parting shot.  Perhaps inspired by his motionless cousins...

     This little guy refused to budge, even when I approached within two feet.  It is hot out - and he had a comfy spot in the shade.  I felt bad for having woken him from his afternoon nap.


Have an awesome day !!

(click HERE for Brookgreen Zoo article)

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