At the turn of the 18th century, the region south of Myrtle Beach to Georgetown was the site of many prosperous rice plantations. These plantations and the fabled Carolina Gold rice that they harvested produced an aristocracy of incredible wealth and power. At this time, what is now known as Brookgreen Gardens was four separate rice plantations: The Oaks, Springfield, Brookgreen and Laurel Hill.
|Theodosia Burr Alston|
|John Joshua Ward|
The histories of Laurel Hill and Springfield Plantation are not quite as well documented. Laurel Hill was once owned by Gabriel Marion, nephew of Revolutionary war hero, Francis "The Swamp Fox" Marion. Springfield Plantation is believed to have been owned by the Alston family at one time.
|Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington|
|Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park|
They soon developed the idea of using a large portion of their land to showcase Anna's work and Brookgreen Gardens was born. Anna personally designed many of the gardens you see today, with the first garden designed with walkways in the shape of a butterfly. The Huntingtons decided to turn Brookgreen into a public garden that preserved the natural beauty of the lowcountry and displayed Anna's sculptures and eventually works from many other acclaimed American artists. Huntington stated that their ultimate goal was to make the gardens "a quiet joining of hands between science and art."
Today, Brookgreen Gardens continues to honor their legacy; 500 acres of beautifully cultivated gardens are home to over 1,400 sculptures and 2,000 species of plants. It is the country's first public sculpture garden and has the largest collection of figurative sculpture by American artists in an outdoor setting in the world.
The gardens also pay homage to the land's early history. Visitors can visit the Alston family cemetery, the famous allée of oak trees planted in the 1700s, the remains of The Oaks' slave village, and enjoy interpretive tours that examine what 18th-century plantation life might have been like for the many different peoples who experienced it.
Brookgreen offers a boat ride along the Waccamaw river to see the former sites of the rice fields and learn about the lives of the slaves who worked them. Additionally, the Brookgreen zoo features native wildlife as well as heritage breeds of farm animals similar to those that would have existed during plantation times. The newest addition is a a gorgeous butterfly pavilion featuring more than 100 species of butterflies!
When you're vacationing in Myrtle Beach, don't miss your opportunity to experience the rich history and natural beauty of the lowcountry. Plantation Resort is conveniently located just a few miles north of Brookgreen Gardens. Be sure to stop by our Front Desk to purchase discounted tickets! Free daily park passes are available at the Front Desk to visit to Huntington Beach State Park, home of Atalaya castle and the beautiful beaches and scenery. Come see why the Huntingtons loved the area so much. But be warned... You just may fall under the lowcountry's spell too!