Tori Luke, Magnolia's student and youth group coordinator, has hatched a plan to help the birds of Magnolia in time for nesting season. Scout groups and volunteers are needed to help clean and repair existing bird houses at Magnolia. The Bird House Blitz will be from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 31. Contact Tori at 843-571-1266, ext. 220 or firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteer sign-up.
Magnolia's 2nd Annual
Garden of Romance Poetry Contest Begins February 14
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens will award prizes totaling more than $2,000 to poets - young and old - who best capture Magnolia as an idyllic "garden of romance."
Magnolia, America's last large-scale romantic-style garden, has recruited a panel of judges who will select the best poets who emulate the sensibility of romantic poets, stir the emotions and celebrate the natural world. Entries will be judged in adult and young adult divisions. MORE DETAILS
During the month of January 2015 Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is offering a special discount for garden lovers who want to enjoy the winter Camellia blooms in America's last romantic garden.
Buy one garden admission for $15 and get the second one free. This offer begins January 1. It expires on January 31, 2015. This special admission price can't be combined with other discounts, is only valid on the day of the visit, and can't be used to obtain a refund for a previous paid visit.
A printed coupon is required to take advantage of this buy one get one free offer. CLICK HERE and complete the form and a coupon will be emailed to you. You will need to print out the coupon and redeem it at the Magnolia ticket booth to receive the offer. Magnolia will not accept images of the coupon on cell phones, tablets or other electronic devices.
This offer opens Magnolia to other daily self-guided and guided tours. For an additional cost of $8, visitors can stroll along an elevated walkway through the Audubon Swamp Garden. Guided tours, which also cost $8 each, include: a 30-minute tour of the main house filled with antiques and the history of the Drayton family; a 45-minute ride on a nature tram to see abundant wildlife; or a 45-minute presentation on the African-American contributions to Magnolia's gardens during the award-winning "From Slavery to Freedom" cabin tour.
Magnolia Foundation support felt throughout Lowcountry South Carolina
The Magnolia Plantation Foundation, the non-profit arm of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, has awarded $90,000 in grants to 21 local and national organizations that support a variety of causes.
The foundation gave grants to selected non-profit groups involved with animal welfare, nature conservation, history, youth activities, education, horticulture and the arts.
This year's list of 21 grant recipients is the largest number of grants given to local and national non-profit groups since the foundation was established in 1988 by Magnolia's former owner the late John Drayton Hastie Sr., who wanted a way to give back to the Tri-county community.
Today, seven trustees, consisting of Hastie's children and grandchildren, direct the foundation. Grants for 2015 were recently approved during the trustees' annual meeting. The foundation was reorganized in 2004, two years after Hastie's death. Since then its giving has totaled about $90,000 annually.
"The foundation is delighted to carry on our father's legacy," said. J.D. Hastie Jr. "We expect that in the future, as Magnolia Gardens continues to grow, we will continue to support worthy causes that benefit our community."
Richard Hendry, a program officer with the Coastal Community Foundation in Charleston, said he was aware of Magnolia's foundation. He was surprised, however, at the amount of the contributions. "It is impressive," he added. "I thought the Magnolia Foundation supported the Magnolia property."
Hastie said the Magnolia Foundation's mission sets it apart from foundations like those that support Middleton Place and Drayton Hall, two other historic properties that flank Magnolia. "We hope more people will come to understand the differences between us and them."
"The Magnolia Foundation gives to the community and does not support the Magnolia property," Hastie said, "but the foundations at Drayton Hall and Middleton only support their properties, and they do not make gifts to the community."
Berkeley County First Steps, based in Hanahan, is a newcomer to the Magnolia Foundation's list of recipients. The foundation gave the state-funded, early childhood education program a grant for its literacy program. The Magnolia Foundation this year also awarded grants to the Charleston Animal Society in North Charleston, Francis R. Willis Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Summerville and Pet Helpers on James Island.
This year, the Slave Dwelling Project, founded by historic preservationist Joseph McGill, was awarded its second grant in two years. McGill said the grant will be combined with other contributions to match a $50,000 grant the project received from the S.C. Department of Archives and History.
"This donation puts us closer to matching the funds necessary for assessing slave dwellings in South Carolina," said McGill, who launched the slave dwelling project four years ago at Magnolia. "I am often asked how many extant slave dwellings exist in South Carolina," he said. "Four years into the slave dwelling project, that's a question I still can't answer. But this assessment will help us to begin to answer that question."
Recipients of Magnolia Foundation grants are:
Alliance Française de Charleston
Phillip Simmons Foundation
Rev. John Grimke Drayton Azalea Society
Boy Scouts of America Venturing Crew 1676
Coastal Carolina Camellia Society
West Ashley High School
Center for Birds of Prey
Keepers of the Wild
Marion County Animal Shelter
Native Plant Society
St. Andrews Parish Church
Clemson Master Gardeners
Historic Charleston Foundation
Coastal Conservation League
St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church
The Slave Dwelling Project
Berkeley County First Steps
Charleston Animal Society in North Charleston
Francis R. Willis Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Pet Helpers on James Island
Magnolia offering two internships at French gardens
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is accepting applications for two horticulture internships at French gardens in the summer of 2015.
The program is open to college students who are American citizens enrolled in an accredited two- or four-year horticulture or landscape architecture program at a U.S. college or university. The students will intern at French gardens from mid June to late August.
Magnolia sponsors the internship with the New York-based French Heritage Society. The internship program also receives support from the City of North Charleston, the Michaux Garden Committee and the Charleston chapter of the Alliance Francaise.
The deadline to apply is Feb. 13. Interns will be selected in mid-March. Applicants must send a cover letter, a 500-word essay stating their reason for applying, three letters of recommendation and a resume to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, 3550 Ashley River Road, Charleston, S.C. 29414, to the attention of Herb Frazier. Some proficiency in French is a plus. Selection also will be based on interviews with members of the Magnolia staff and Alliance Francaise.
Former participants and their internship year are: Katherine Reeves, Trident Technical College, 2011; Caroline Broder, University of Georgia, 2012; Dana Reynolds, North Carolina State University, 2013; and Ruth Morgan, Alamance Community College in Graham, N.C., 2014.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens invites you and that special person in your life to enjoy a Valentine Chocolate and Camellia Sweetheart Stroll through America's oldest garden.
Sample a variety of tasty treats served Feb. 14-15 at chocolate stations throughout the sprawling gardens along the Ashley River.
String musicians will serenade as couples embrace a love of chocolate in a colorful winter landscape named a Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society.
While the adults indulge, children will gather at Magnolia's Gingerbread house to craft valentine greetings for their parents.
This affair – from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – is free with garden admission. Children under six are free.
Faces of Magnolia: Justin Feller
This profile of Justin Feller, an employee in the maintenance department at Magnolia, is the first in a series of monthly profiles to introduce to you our employees who help to maintain the beauty of America's oldest garden.
In October, Justin joined the maintenance staff at Magnolia. Although his work involves general repairs, landscaping and horticulture are among his interest.
After graduating from James Island High School in 2009, Justin enrolled in the horticulture program at Trident Technical College, and he started his own business, Feller Lawn Services.
He has plans to receive an associate degree in horticulture. The additional knowledge, he said, will help him in his business. "I enjoy landscaping," he added. "I love being outdoors."
His hobbies reflect that outdoor spirit. He enjoys deep sea fishing and the thrill of reeling in big fish like blackfin tuna from of the blue waters of the Florida Keys.
He also enjoys driving off road. He and his friends are building a giant off-road truck with tractor tires. "It is two feet short of a monster truck."
Couple bags wedding contest with
social media, hunting
The power of social media coupled with a passion for hunting helped a Raleigh, N.C., couple win "Sharing the Romance," a $50,000 wedding contest that will lead to their nuptials next year at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
Courtney Sweetser and Caleb Smith posted text and pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest to grab 10,266 votes of the 24,043 ballots cast during online voting in the nationwide contest.
Friends, family, co-workers and patients in a plastic surgeon's office where Courtney works as the office and patient coordinator voted for the couple. Hunters in North Carolina also backed them when they heard the couple is a hunting pair.
"We tried to emphasize for people to vote every day. I thought that would be the key to winning," said Courtney, who poses on her Facebook page with a turkey she shot.
Courtney and Caleb visited Magnolia on Monday to begin the process to plan for their wedding on Feb. 7, 2015, in The Carriage House. Nineteen wedding vendors in Charleston will donate their services. The couple will start their honeymoon in Charleston.
Magnolia launched the wedding giveaway contest in February. Couples were asked to submit short videos explaining how they met and why they want a wedding at Magnolia and honeymoon in Charleston. In June, judges chose four semifinalists. Videos were posted on Magnolia's website, allowing people around the country to vote for the couple with the most compelling story. An independent company tabulated the votes.
Magnolia's events sales manager Jessica Cruz, said, "I had the pleasure of showing Courtney and Caleb their beautiful wedding venue for the very first time. They are super excited for this amazing opportunity, and we couldn't be happier that The Carriage House is exactly the type of venue they imagined for their wedding. The Carriage House will be the perfect backdrop for their Southern chic inspired wedding."
Wedding planner Cindy Zingerella of Engaging Events will help Courtney and Caleb plan their wedding and provide the décor and reception flowers.
Courtney envisions her wedding in the rustic setting of The Carriage House to be elegant, timeless and simple, matched with the building's wood details and the wooded landscape around it.
Fox24-TV and "Charleston Weddings" published by "Charleston Magazine," are the contest's media sponsors.
The other wedding vendors and the services they'll provide are:
N.C. couple wins "Sharing the Romance"
A Raleigh, N.C., couple whose marriage proposal in April captured the hearts of golf fans at the Augusta National Golf Club, are the winners of "Sharing the Romance," a $50,000 wedding giveaway offered by Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and wedding vendors in Charleston.
"Sharing the Romance" winners Courtney Sweetser and Caleb Smith are having a good year. In addition to submitting the winning wedding contest video they were gifted with hard-to-get tickets to the venerable Masters golf tournament. The opportunity gave Caleb a splendid venue to propose to Courtney.
On Magnolia Lane, leading to the golf club, tournament patrons posed for pictures. When Courtney and Caleb approached, Caleb whispered to the photographer to take a few extras as he was about to ask the big question.
Courtney said, "As we were taking the picture Caleb knelt down and told me he had something he needed to ask me. He then proposed. I was so surprised and shocked I didn't know what to say. Everyone in line started cheering and clapping for us and as we walked away after taking our picture we had to walk back by everyone in line. We felt like the golfers in the tournament because everyone was high fiving us and congratulating us and clapping."
The couple will get hardy applause, kisses and hugs during their Feb. 7, 2015, wedding in Magnolia's Carriage House. Nineteen wedding vendors in Charleston will donate their services to make Courtney's and Caleb's wedding an event to remember. They will honeymoon in Charleston.
Magnolia launched the wedding giveaway contest in February. Couples were asked to submit short videos explaining how they met and why they'd want a wedding at Magnolia and honeymoon in Charleston. In June, judges chose four semifinalists. Videos were posted on Magnolia's website, allowing people around the country to vote for the couple with the most compelling story. Courtney and Caleb received the most votes. An independent company tabulated the votes.
Wedding planner Cindy Zingerella of Engaging Events will help Courtney and Caleb plan their wedding, provide the décor and reception flowers and bring their wedding dreams to life. The other wedding vendors and the services they'll provide are:
Fox24-TV and "Charleston Weddings" published by "Charleston Magazine," were the contest's media sponsors.
"Sharing the Romance" is the brainchild of Tom Johnson, Magnolia's executive director. During garden tours and public lectures, Johnson speaks passionately about Magnolia being the last large-scale romantic-style garden in the United States.
"Congratulations to Courtney and Caleb," Johnson said. "We are thrilled that we can offer this opportunity to them so they will have a memorable wedding experience in America's oldest public garden in Charleston, one of America's most picturesque cities."
Opened in 1870 as a public garden, Magnolia is one of America's first tourist attractions. Since then, international visitors have strolled winding footpaths through more than 100 acres of azaleas, camellias and other seasonal flora. Unlike a formal, well-manicured garden, Magnolia's romantic-style gardens are designed to be in harmony with nature.
Tori Luke talks about Magnolia's youth programs
Bird pictures take top three photo contest prizes
Charleston-area photographers took the top three prizes in the 4th Annual Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Photo Contest with images of birds.
Magnolia organizes the competition along with the Lowcountry Photographic Club. The competition is open to professional and amateur photographers. All photos submitted were taken at Magnolia between March 1 and May 31.
Magnolia Gardens, One of America's Most Beautiful
My Charleston Today 5.22.14
Young Summerville Writer Continues
Her Winning Ways
What began as an extra-credit assignment in an English honors class ended with Rachael Laemers winning an iPad as the first-place prize in Magnolia Plantation and Gardens' poetry contest, "Sharing the Romance."
"Why not," Rachael said when teacher Jennifer Plane suggested she enter the competition's youth category. The deadline was approaching fast, she was tired, but in spite of it all, she wrote "Garden of Love."
Rachael, 15, a 9th-grader at Summerville High School, is no stranger to winning writing contests, her mother, Noreen Laemers, boasted Friday.
Rachael's winning streak began when, as a second grader, she wrote "Reflections," an essay about the International Primate Protection League at Knightsville in Dorchester County.
Noreen Laemers, the IPPL's animal care worker, said it is home to 36 gibbons, the smallest of the apes, rescued from research labs. Others are unwanted zoo animals or discarded pets.
Rachael volunteers at the IPPL where she does landscaping and gardening. Her passion for nature is reflected in the poem she penned: "The beauty found within hearts is very different from the beauty found in nature. But they both begin with a simple seed, creating life within a person"
Magnolia’s executive director Tom Johnson, left, presents an iPad to Rachael Laemers, who is joined by her parents, Noreen and Paul Laemers of Summerville.
Father Never had a Chance to Appreciate
Daughters Winning Poem
Pam Stewart of Summerville recited to her father, Harry Baker, the romantic-style poems he loved to hear but couldn't read because he was blind.
"I know many poems by heart, and I'd recite them to him," Stewart said Thursday. "Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth. He really liked them."
In elementary school, Stewart wrote poems for class assignments. Later, she was inspired in her senior year of high school to write poetry by an English teacher who was Scottish. She revered the romantic poets.
Stewart had not written a poem since then until recently after she read a newspaper story announcing a call for entries to Magnolia Plantation and Garden’s poetry contest, "Sharing the Romance."
Her 22-line poem – "O! Magnolia" – was therapeutic and the judge's choice as the first-place entry in the adult category from nearly 200 entries.
She wrote her poem in about an hour while caring for her ailing 95-year-old father who moved to Summerville a decade ago. He had become too frail to manage the family's sprawling farm at Mahaffey, Penn.
She rushed to mail the poem before a March 1 deadline. When it arrived at Magnolia, the envelope and its contents had been mangled by a postal service processing machine. Fortunately, her phone number was still legible on the ripped page. After a call to Stewart she quickly resubmitted her poem, and it won.
"I am just floored," she said. "I just thought the poem was rather sing-songy, but I didn't have time to change it. I don’t know what to think." She told her father she had entered the contest, but she didn't read it to him.
After submitting the poem, she had planned to bring her father to Magnolia's Gardens. But the weather was too cold. She'd wait until the spring. But her father died March 21 not knowing she had won the contest.
"He would probably be happy to know I won because he couldn't do much," she said. "That would have given him pleasure."
Atlanta Artist Ken Weaver Donates
Painting to Magnolia
Atlanta artist and weaver Ken Weaver, whose work is among hundreds of private and public collections across the country, donated an oil painting Monday to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens of the first three camellias named at Magnolia.
The painting features the blooms of camellias named for Julia Drayton, Sara Hastie and the Rev. John Drayton, who develop the gardens at Magnolia beginning in 1840 and three decades later opened them to the public as a tourist attraction. Julia Drayton was Rev. John Drayton's wife. Sara Hastie was the wife of C. Norwood Hastie, a 20th century owner of Magnolia.
Weaver presented the painting to Magnolia's executive director Tom Johnson, who first became aware of Weaver's work while he was the chief horticulturist for the American Camellia Society in Fort Valley, Ga. Weaver's painting of a camellia hangs in the lobby of the main building at the Massee Lane Gardens.
Weaver, a life-long artist who has worked in a variety of mediums, has chosen in recent years to paint in watercolors. "I used to work in oil," Weaver said. "Maybe I'll go back to oil. People apply more value to oil." He is currently the financial officer for the Georgia Watercolor Society.
Weaver's wall hangings have been on display in prestigious galleries and venues around the United States, including the Lincoln Center in Dallas and the Renaissance Center in Detroit.
Weaver is easily bored if he's not fully engaged in a project. In January, while he was in a lull, Coca-Cola chemist Harry Waldrop, aware of Weaver's Massee Lane camellia painting, suggested he paint a camellia for Magnolia.
A phone call to Johnson set the stage for Weaver's next project that was completed in two weeks.
Johnson said, "We are honored that an artist of Ken Weaver's stature has chosen to contribute his time and talents to memorialize three important camellias in Magnolia's camellia collection. Visitors to Magnolia each fall and winter view our camellia garden, which is one of only five gardens in the United States designated as a Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society."
Johnson said Weaver's 22" by 28" framed painting, will be displayed in a prominent place at Magnolia.