Magnolia Gardens "History Fair" returns July 2
Amateur and serious historians can sample the Lowcountry's past on July 2 during the 4th Annual History Fair at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
The History Fair is collection of well-known area organizations in education, religion, social services, the arts and tourism, including Charleston Museum, America's first museum.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., representatives of participating organizations will present information and lead interactive activities. Magnolia will be joined by its Ashley River neighbor Drayton Hall under the banner of the Historic Ashley River Plantation District.
Guests who purchase the $15 general admission to the gardens will be treated to special activities, including dancers, drummers, a storyteller, a brick-making demonstration and a special lecture.
Firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians, physicians, nurses and active duty military and their immediate family will be admitted free of charge to the gardens. Valid identification is required.
Character actor Kirk Brown will portray John Bartram, the "father of American botany," at 1 p.m. in the Orientation Theater. Brown will share the story of Bartram and his forays into the Carolinas during his specimen collecting expeditions in the 1700s. Bartram was referred to as "the greatest natural botanist in the world."
Master brick maker Rick Owens of Simpsonville will demonstrate early brick-making techniques.
Storyteller Kitty Wilson-Evans, who portrays an 18th century enslaved worker named Kessie, will be in the History Room at the main house.
Wona Womalan will present at 11:30 a.m. traditional Guinean history and culture through authentic West African dancing, drumming and songs.
The History Fair presenters are:
Magnolia Gardens internships brings a blend of two cultures
Three students from different cultures have come to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens through a shared desire to study the floral diversity of a coastal landscape.
Sophie Régal and Marion Heinemann, students at the National Landscape School of Versailles in Paris, will work alongside Landon Barker, a horticulture student at the University of Georgia, during summer internships at America's oldest garden.
Régal's and Heinemann's internships are sponsored by Magnolia and the French Heritage Society in Paris and New York. This is the fifth year Magnolia has participated in the exchange program with assistance from the Alliance Française in Charleston.
Since 1985, the French Heritage Society has sponsored the educational exchange program for American and French students in the fields of preservation, cultural management, architecture, art history, horticultural and other areas related to historic preservation.
Régal is not only interested in Lowcountry plants, but she is intrigued by the region's historic connection with African cultures. "I want to discover new flora and understand how it works in this garden and how did the (former rice) plantation become a garden. I am also interested in the history of this area and the African roots here," said Régal, whose grandparents lived in the French island of Martinique in the Caribbean where enslaved Africans toiled on sugar plantations.
A resident of a suburb west of Paris, Régal has a master's degree in landscape architecture. She is in her last year at Versailles. She also has studied in Finland. In spite of her academic gains she is undecided on what she wants to do professionally. She may pursue a doctorate degree. If she does, she wants to study how landscape architecture can be used to improve the well-being of people in developing countries.
Heinemann, a first-year student at Versailles, is a resident of Alsace in a northern wine-growing region of France near the German border. On her first trip to southern France she saw new tropical plants that she had only seen before in conservatories in the northern France. During this eight-week internship at Magnolia she wants to expand her knowledge of tropical flora and work in the nursery to study the propagation of plants, especially camellias. After graduation, Heinemann said she wants to work in a historic garden like Magnolia.
The internship has given Heinemann her first opportunity to travel outside of European. America is surprisingly large, she said. "America is seventeen times larger than France. Everything is close in France. But in America everything is so far away." The Americans she has met so far are friendly. "I feel more close to American people. They speak about what's in their heart. It is a new way of communicating with people."
There are no palm trees in Barker's hometown of Kennesaw, Ga., but when she visits her grandparents in Summerville she spots familiar plants and many that are new. Being at Magnolia, she said, "is an opportunity to learn."
Barker, a rising senior, has worked in the retail side of a nursery. At Magnolia she wants to observe how plants move from the nursery to the garden. When she worked at Brushwood Nursery in Athens, Ga., "I was a propagator, but I didn't get to display plants for the public, which is really cool."
Barker's internship is the first of its kind for the gardens. Magnolia's executive director Tom Johnson created the internship for American students as a way to help horticulture students continue their studies during the summer in an outdoor classroom. "Not only will a student come here to put what they've learned in the classroom into practice, but they'll also have a chance to meet our French interns. It has always been my desire to share cultures through horticulture."
Beginning next summer, the internships will be available to students at other colleges, Johnson added. Interested students should contact Herb Frazier at Magnolia.
While at Magnolia, Barker and the French interns, work with the gardening staff and Katherine Reeves White, Magnolia's assistant horticulturalist and volunteer coordinator. Barker said she wants to help White complete pending projects. "I want to help push the projects across the finish line," she said. Some of those projects include preserving Flowerdale, the 1685 epicenter of Magnolia, and the Herb Garden and initiating plant sales.
Barker is clear on what she wants to accomplish at Magnolia, but she has not decided on what to do after graduation. She's considering greenhouse management. Whatever she does, it will not be tied to an office. "I just want to be outside. I don’t want to be inside."
Winners announced in 3rd Annual Garden of Romance Poetry Contest
A marketing copywriter with a health care firm in Plymouth, Minn., and a homeschool student in Charleston took the top prizes in the 3rd Annual Garden of Romance Poetry Contest sponsored by Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
Josh Crane of Burnsville, Minn., won first place in the adult division with "An Invitation to Examine [the Garden's Lovely Ways]." The first-place prize is $500.
Charleston resident Grace Daniels, a homeschool student, won the first-place prize in the youth division with "Nature's Song." She will receive an iPad. The judges also selected three other poems penned by Daniels for a third-place prize and three honorable mention prizes.
The other winning entries in the adult division are:
- Carole Strickland, Wadmalaw Island, S.C. second place, $300, "Awakened to the Joy"
· Catherine Cummings, Marietta, Ga., third place, $200, "The Garden Sprite"
Honorable mention winners – $50 prizes – are:
- Pam Stuart, Summerville, S.C., "Magnolia, If I had Known"
- Maria Martin, Charleston, S.C. "Sonnet Written Among the Blooms of Magnolia Gardens"
- Andrea Roberts, Myrtle Beach, S.C. "From John to Julia"
- Karen LoCicero, Mount Pleasant, S.C. "Magnolia’s Dreams"
- Charles Moore, Wadmalaw Island, S.C., "Th' Gardens Of My Mind"
The other winning entries in the youth division are:
- Lauren Koch, Evansville, Ind., second place, $200, "Our Home"
- Grace Daniels, third place, $100, "I am"
Honorable mention winners – annual family membership to Magnolia – are:
- Grace Daniels, "If," "Ageless Paradise" and "In the Blink of an Eye"
- Amos Hay, Singapore, "La Douleur Exquise"
- Rachel Daniels, Charleston, S.C., "My Little Shining Star"
Entries in the adult division were judged by Katrina Murphy, vice president of the Poetry Society of South Carolina, and Emily Davis-Fletcher, freelance poet and writer. Youth division poems were judged by Donna Adams, reference and young adult librarian, Otranto Road Regional Library in North Charleston, and Willette Wilkins, creative writing teacher, North Charleston Cultural Arts Department.
Magnolia is America's last large-scale romantic-style garden. The contest was open to poems that emulate the style of romance poets William Wordsworth, Ashley Tennyson and Percy Bysshe Shelley. A Wordsworth quote inscribed on a small sign at Magnolia's entrance reads: "Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher."
The Rev. John Grimké Drayton is credited with adopting a romantic style of gardening at Magnolia after visiting Europe in the 1800s as the Romantic Movement swept Europe and America. In addition to garden design, the Romantic Movement also touched many aspects of European and American society and inspired poetry.
The winning poems will be posted on Magnolia's Facebook page, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, and this website soon.
Volunteer at America's Oldest Garden!
Magnolia Plantation & Gardens is recruiting volunteers for the gardens, greenhouses, Nature Center, Audubon Swamp Garden, office support, greeters, docents, special events and youth programs. Do you have a lot of energy and time? If so, join our winning team today! CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
Magnolia Gardens creates two positions to expand services
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens has created two new positions to meet a growing need to manage special events and shield its computer network.
A veteran of NASA, Karen Lucht has been named Special Events/Festivals Coordinator. Paul Paez, an information technology specialist, was selected as director of information services and cyber security.
During Lucht's 20-year career with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, she held positions of increasing responsibility at NASA centers in Texas, New Mexico, Florida and at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. In her most recent position, Lucht was a member of the management team responsible for developing a vehicle to replace the Space Shuttle. After leaving the agency in 2013, Lucht worked in the Public Relations Department of the Church of Scientology in Clearwater, Florida, where she oversaw the professional appearance of 1,400 staff members.
Lucht is a magna cum laude graduate of Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in business administration.
As the Special Events/Festivals Coordinator at Magnolia, Lucht will coordinate with management, vendors and local organizations to provide special events and festivals which invite the local community to share in the beauty and legacy of Magnolia.
For six years, Paez served in the U.S. Navy as a sonar technician on a nuclear powered submarine. After the military, he studied computer and electronic engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.
He is the former owner of Timely Tech, a company that specialized in resolving workplace computer failures. He is also president of e-Security Solutions based in Summerville.
Paez began his computer career nearly 30 years ago. In the last decade, he gradually switched from a computer generalist to an online security specialist. Cyber security will become more in demand as the internet connects the global community.
Bees bring Magnolia Gardens a hive of possibilities
Bee hives will give Magnolia Plantation and Gardens a new buzz to highlight the insect's role as pollinators and the human threat to them.
Tori Johnson, Magnolia's student and youth group coordinator, recently earned her wings as a certified beekeeper after completing a two-day introductory beekeeping course sponsored by the Charleston Area Beekeepers Association.
During the training at the Medical University of South Carolina some 30 participants were instructed on beekeeping supplies, safety equipment, diseases, the types of bees and how to maintain a happy colony.
Bee colonies will be installed this month near the Magnolia campgrounds within an easy flight of the gardens in time for the springtime azalea blooms. "First and foremost the hives will be good for our gardens because the flowers will reap the benefits of the pollinators," Johnson said. "Secondly, it is a great education opportunity to inform the younger generation about the importance of pollination and to keep healthy bees."
Magnolia's desire to assist in supporting the continued existence of honey bees and other pollinators is of global concern. A recent report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warns that pollinators are facing extinction.
The IPBES released its assessment after a two-year study of the threats facing pollinators – both vertebrates, such as birds and bats, and invertebrates, such as bees, butterflies, and other insects. In some regions of the world, environmental impacts are pushing 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators to the brink of extinction. Butterflies and bees experience the highest risk. Among vertebrates, 16.5 percent of species are threatened by extinction worldwide.
In an interview with ThinkProgress, a political news blog released by the Center for American Progress, Simon Potts, co-chair of the IPBES report, said. "Without pollinators, many of us would no longer be able to enjoy coffee, chocolate and apples, among many other foods that are part of our daily lives."
Johnson said, "If we lose our bees, our agricultural industry will crash. It is very serious, and I don’t think the general population understands how important pollinators are to our world."
Johnson's mission is two-fold: maintain a happy colony and use the colonies as a teaching tool for youth and scouting group. The first goal is more difficult than the second. If the bees are not happy they could swarm, sending up to 60,000 bees on a hunt for a new home for their queen, she said. Johnson does not plan to take youth groups to the hives. Instead, she'll show them removable sections of it and the honey. With a smile, she added, "We'd like to leave the bees alone."
Magnolia has purchased Italian bees, the most common type, she said. "They are popular among beekeepers because they are less prone to disease, they produce quality honey and they are not aggressive."
As a large-scale garden, Magnolia uses chemicals to control insects and other pests. Tom Johnson, Magnolia's executive director, said Tori Johnson (no relation) will audit garden chemicals at Magnolia to ensure they are environmentally friendly. Magnolia plans to teach about the benefits of bees and the threats they face.
Magnolia Gardens joins plant monitoring network
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, a steward of the land for three centuries, has joined with other environmentally conscious gardens to monitor threats harmful insects and diseases pose to plants and food crops.
Magnolia has joined the Sentinel Plant Network that encourages public garden professionals, volunteers and visitors to detect and report serious plant pests and diseases.
Tori Luke, Magnolia's student and youth group coordinator, recently attended a regional meeting of the Sentinel Plant Network at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. She was trained to recognize signs and symptoms of potential threats. She will hold workshops at Magnolia to educate youth groups and others.
Luke will train "first detectors" to watch for Asian longhorn beetle, emerald ash borer, red palm weevil, sudden oak death and thousand cankers disease. "These are just a few of the significant pathogens and insects in the southern region that could devastate ornamental and native plants and food crops," she explained.
"Magnolia is involved because we are part of a larger picture," she said. "As stewards of the land, Magnolia and other gardens have an obligation to report and fix threats to the country's ecosystem."
"In the southeast, many states like North Carolina and Georgia have had occurrences of some serious intrusion," she said. "We want to be diligent about caring for our gardens. Magnolia currently has none of these pathogens, and we want to keep it that way."
The Sentinel Plant Network receives funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The network is also affiliated with the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) and the National Plant Diagnostic Network. Magnolia is an APGA member.
To learn more about threats to Lowocuntry flora, contact Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Swamp Garden gets new naturalist for improved maintenance
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens has embarked on a multi-year environmental project to re-establish and diversify native plants varieties and rejuvenate the wildlife habitat in the 60-acre Audubon Swamp Garden.
As part of the effort, Stacy Turner has been named to a new position – Audubon Swamp Garden naturalist. The swamp is named for naturalist John James Audubon, who was a friend of the Drayton family that has owned Magnolia since the late 1670s.
A similar ecological project is underway at Magnolia's 120-acre impoundment and wildlife refuge along the Ashley River. The three-year project there also is designed to improve the wildlife habitat and water quality for wading birds and waterfowl and establish a variety of native plants.
In the Audubon Swamp, Turner has already begun removing unwanted vegetation, including cattails from the edges of the swamp to provide a better view of wood duck boxes, cypress and tupelo trees and to improve the habitat for water fowl.
Clearing the swamp of unwanted plants is not as simple as it might seem, said Turner, who has undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology. "You have to look at the water flow to determine where to clear first. Not all of the vegetation is removed", he added. "It is a balance. You have to leave enough habitat for the wildlife. Ideally, you select the non-native plants to remove.”
Over time, Turner plans to introduce native grasses, shrubs and trees that include yaupon holly, lemon-scented fringe trees, coral honey suckle and crossvine. Each of these plants has a beneficial characteristic. Native Americans used the holly leaves to stimulate vision and crossvine attracts humming birds.
"I want natives that people don't usually see," Turner said. Lantana, which is scattered throughout the swamp, will be replaced with the American beautyberry, serviceberry and sparkleberry. "I would like to use natives in place of the typical plants that can sometimes be invasive," he said.
Turner has consulted with native plant vendors, a botanist at The Citadel and the Native Plant Society to select 20 initial native plants for the swamp and the best locations for them.
Diversifying the vegetation will improve the swamp garden's appeal to water fowl and migratory birds. "There is no point for the birds to nest if they can't find food to feed their young," he said. "Wildlife also helps to sustain the plants by distributing the seeds."
Land management project expanding Ashley River wildlife habitat
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens has begun a three-year project to improve the wildlife habitat and water quality in an impoundment and wildlife refuge along the Ashley River.
Tourists take a daily nature boat tour at Magnolia that travels on a 120-acre impoundment past alligators, wading birds, waterfowl and a variety of native plants. But that experience is being threatened by cattails, an invasive aquatic plant.
The first phase of the project involved spraying the cattail with an environmentally safe herbicide to remove the vegetation that is choking the impoundment.
Tom Johnson, Magnolia's executive director, said removing the cattails will improve the nature watching experience for wildlife enthusiasts.
Today, Magnolia is owned by the 12th and 13th generations of the Drayton family whose ownership of the 500-acre Magnolia began in the late 1670s. "This project is following through with the Drayton family's three hundred year stewardship of the land to preserve a healthy landscape for the next generation," Johnson said.
Robert C. Strange, an ecologist with Sabine & Waters, environmental land management consultants in Summerville, said removing the cattails will allow for other plants and aquatic life to flourish and improve the food source for fowl and fish.
Following the herbicide treatment the dried cattails will be burned between January and March. The impoundment will be drained and the nature boat channel will be dredged deeper. Three more water control devices will be installed to allow for improved water exchange between an adjacent 20-acre impoundment and the Ashley River.
The spoil from the dredging will be used to create additional islands in the larger impoundment, Strange said. These islands will create new opportunities for birds to build nests and roost in the coming years.
The work will not chase away the alligators. "The gators will stick around, and they will be fine," Strange added. "Magnolia has enough swamp, and they will go out in the river. They come, and they go."
Remembering Tina Gilliard
Eva Mae Gailliard
Eva Mae Gailliard has vivid memories of the night her grandmother Tina Gilliard, a revered employee at Magnolia in the early 1900s, died at her home in Charleston.
Gailliard of the Bronx, N.Y., and members of her family visited Magnolia in late May to learn more about their ancestor and to expand what is known of her.
A cabin near the ticket booth was once Gilliard's home. Today it is known as Tina Gilliard's Cabin. The family has changed the spelling of their last name to "Gailliard."
Gilliard was born two years after the Civil War at Middleton Place. She later came to work as a greeter at Magnolia.
She was so highly thought of that Magnolia named a camellia in her honor. She is one of three employees of African descent at Magnolia who have camellias named for them.
Around 6 p.m. on March 2, 1958, Gilliard announced metaphorically that her life was coming to an end.
As a five-year-old Eva Mae shared a bed with her grandmother, she asked her if she was tired?
"No, I am going to my father," the grandmother said.
"Can I go?" Eva Mae asked.
"When it is time you can meet my father," she promised.
Then she began to sing "I’m Going Home on the Morning Train." After a few verses, Tina Gilliard whispered, "Thank you father." Then she took her last breath.
"I got this warm feeling when they put her in the hearse."
The following is an excerpt from Paul Porwoll's book Against All Odds: History of Saint Andrew's Parish Church, Charleston, 1706-2013, published in 2014 by WestBow Press. Copies are available at the Magnolia Plantation Gift Shop, St. Andrew's Parish Church, and online through WestBow Press and Amazon.
John Grimke Drayton
Ministry to the "Black Roses"
John Grimke Drayton is renowned for his vision that transformed Magnolia-on-the-Ashley into one of the world's horticultural masterpieces. Less known, but as remarkable, is Drayton's ministry to his "black roses," as he called the African Americans under his care, as an Episcopal priest.
In 1851 Drayton became rector of St. Andrew's Parish Church, established and built in 1706 just a few miles south of Magnolia. St. Andrew's was one of the earliest Episcopal churches that ministered to enslaved Africans. In 1845 two chapels in the parish were opened, one at Simon J. Magwood's plantation and the other on Nathaniel Russell Middleton's Bolton-on-the-Stono. Five years later a third chapel was begun at Magnolia.
Drayton had actually started his slave ministry much earlier, in the 1830s. He spent Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings in religious instruction with the adults and two evenings a week and Sunday mornings with the children. CONTINUE READING...
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: