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Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars performing
benefit concert at Magnolia

Refugee All StarsSierra Leone's Refugee All Stars will give a benefit concert March 19 at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens to raise money for Doctors Without Borders.

Doctors Without Borders is among the agencies combating the spread of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. In less than a year, the disease has killed 3,336 people in the West African nation.

The 5 p.m. concert – Make Sierra Leone Ebola Free – will be held at the Pavilion. Tickets are $15. They will go on sale the day of the event at a temporary ticket booth on the entrance road to Magnolia. Cumulus Media and Fox Audio Visual are event sponsors with assistance from the African Studies Department at the College of Charleston.

Tom Johnson, Magnolia's executive director, said, "Magnolia is delighted to support the All Stars in their effort to inform and educate the public about the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone and West Africa. Because of the historic ties between South Carolina and Sierra Leone, we're hoping the public will help us help Doctors Without Borders in their tireless effort to bring medical relief to Sierra Leone and other African nations."

During the trans-Atlantic slave trade, West Africans were captured and shipped to South Carolina and Georgia. Many of them were taken from the rice-growing region of West Africa that includes modern-day Sierra Leone.

According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola virus also has killed 1,990 people in Guinea and 3,826 people in Liberia. Both countries border Sierra Leone.

Christopher Day, an assistant professor in the African Studies and Political Science departments at the College of Charleston, said, "Because Ebola is starting to fade from view doesn't mean the problem has gone away or that Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea are in the clear. Moreover, there are still persistent crises elsewhere in Africa such as in Central African Republic and South Sudan that require just as much attention."

The eight-member All Stars band was formed a decade ago. After the release of the critically acclaimed film that bore their name and documented the band's inception in refugee camps during Sierra Leone's rebel war, they have appeared on Oprah and performed with Aerosmith, Dispatch, and Ziggy Marley.

After a six-month world tour that began in April 2014, the All Stars haven't been able to return home due to the Ebola crisis. When the virus took hold in Sierra Leone, the band was quick to incorporate fundraising into their tour.

Doctors Without Borders's West Africa Ebola response began in March 2014 and includes activities in Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone. The organization currently employs 302 international and about 4,000 national locally hired staff in the region. It operates eight Ebola case management centers, providing about 650 beds in isolation and one transit center.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, Doctors Without Borders has admitted more than 8,100 patients, among whom around 4,960 were confirmed as having Ebola. More than 2,300 patients have survived. More than 1,400 tons of supplies have been shipped to the affected countries since March 2014.

For more information about Doctors Without Borders's efforts to contain the Ebola virus, go to http://bit.ly/1oSVLVz.

 

Sunrise ServicesEaster Sunrise Service at Magnolia Gardens

Old St. Andrew's Parish Church and St. Andrew's Mission Church will gather for an Easter Sunrise Service at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens on the banks of the Ashley River.

The 6:30 a.m. service on Sunday, April 5, will be held on the lawn outside The Carriage House. Parking is free.

Following the service, attendees will be offered free admission to the gardens. The Peacock Café will open at 8:30 a.m.

For additional details, follow #easteratmagnolia on Twitter.

 

Magnolia's Easter Egg Hunt Stuffed with Prizes

Eggbert HoppsMore than 5,000 plastic eggs are being stuffed with candy and prizes for the 6th Annual Magnolia Easter Egg Hunt on April 4 at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Children will be divided into four age groups for the 30-minue hunts on the lawn at the main house.

The first group – children 2 and under – will start at 10:30 a.m. The hunt for children – three to five – will start at 11 a.m. Children – six to seven – will hunt for eggs beginning at noon. Children – eight to twelve – will get their chance at 1 p.m. to find a prize. Space is limited. Please arrive 30 to 45 minutes before a hunt time.

Prizes are:
- A nature train ride for up to five individuals
- A nature boat ride for up to five individuals
- An annual family membership
- Chocolate Easter bunnies

Prizes must be claimed at the Magnolia business office the day of the event.

Eggbert Hopps, Magnolia's mascot, will pose for pictures from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Photographer Christine Smith will have a variety of packages available for purchase. Magnolia has paid the sitting fee.

The Easter Egg Hunt is free with garden admission and for families with annual memberships.

 

Celebrate Black History Month
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.

Rev. John Grimke Drayton
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...


Magnolia offering two internships at French gardens

French FlagMagnolia 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 March 13. Interns will be selected in April. 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.



Free Annual MembershipMagnolia promotes dog adoptions with annual memberships

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, considered one of America's most dog-friendly destinations, is offering free annual memberships to families that adopt a dog from a Lowcountry animal shelter or pet adoption program.

Coupons for one free annual membership are available at the Charleston Animal Society in North Charleston, the Francis R. Willis Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Summerville, Pet Helpers on James Island and through the newly formed Sinbad-Sadie Second Chance Rescue. To contact Sinbad-Sadie, send an email to Kym Wallace at kym.sinbad.sadie@gmail.com.

Coupons will be available until March 31. After a dog is adopted, redeem the coupon at the Magnolia office to receive an annual membership card. The annual family membership is a $100 value.

Magnolia welcomes leashed dogs 365 days a year. Magnolia is listed in the "Ruff Guide to the United States: 365 of the Best Places to Stay & Play With Your Dog in all 50 States."


Magnolia's 2nd Annual Garden of Romance Poetry Contest Begins February 14

Garden of Romance

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

 

Magnolia Gardens Photo Contest Opens March 1

Magnolia Plantation Photo ContestThe 5th Annual Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Photography Contest begins Sunday, March 1.

The competition is open to professional and amateur photographers. All photos submitted to the contest must be taken at Magnolia and the Audubon Swamp Garden between March 1 and May 31.

Magnolia has organized the competition along with the Lowcountry Photographic Club. Doug DeLong, the club's president, said, "The word has spread about the contest. It has become very popular, and the images are getting better each year."€

A $25 entry fee is required. To enter the contest and to obtain contest rules, go to www.lowcountryphotoclub.org. Please do not call the Magnolia ticket booth or office for contest details.

Each photographer will only be allowed to enter two color photographs. Prizes will be awarded to the first-, second- and third-place finishers and 10 percent of the images that receive high scores will get honorable mentions. Entries must be emailed before midnight June 6 to magnoliaphotocontest@gmail.com.

Participating photographers will be assigned an entry number issued by the club. To enter the gardens, the participating photographer must show their entry number along with photo identification. Non photographers must pay the $15 general garden admission to enter the gardens with a participating photographer.

 

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Caleb Smith

Charleston Wedding Giveaway Charleston Wedding Giveaway
Charleston Wedding Giveaway Charleston Wedding Giveaway

Courtney Sweetser and Caleb Smith exchanged their vows Saturday, Feb. 7, in The Carriage House at Magnolia.

Courtney and Caleb won "Sharing the Romance," a $50,000 wedding giveaway offered by Magnolia and 20 local wedding vendors.

Fox24-TV and "Charleston Weddings" published by "Charleston Magazine," were the contest's media sponsors. Wedding planner Cindy Zingerella of Engaging Events helped Courtney and Caleb plan their wedding.

The other wedding vendors were:

ACW Limo - limousine for bride and groom
Artistic Eye Productions, video services
Bellelina Skincare And Makeup Studio, Fabulous Bride Package to include makeup and pampering services for the bride
Bridal House of Charleston, wedding gown
Charleston Place Hotel, two nights hotel stay
Cindy Zingerella of Engaging Events, wedding planner and reception flowers
Classical Charleston, ceremony music
Complete Music of Charleston, DJ service
David's Tuxedos - tuxedo for groom
Dodeline Design - invitation and save the dates
Elaine's Events, cake
EventWorks, rental service
Mix Charleston, bar service
Mosaic Catering
Richard Bell Photography
Snyder Event Rentals
TapSnap1063, photo entertainment
Tiger Lily Florist and wedding floral designer Gayla Harvey, ceremony and personal flowers
Vanity Salon, hair design services for the bride
Wedding Hanger Shop, personalized wedding hangers

 

Faces of Magnolia: Nikki Cabrera

NikkiMagnolia presents a series of profiles of its employees to introduce you to the people who help maintain the beauty of America's oldest garden. This month, the focus is on volunteer coordinator Nikki Cabrera.

In April 2010, Jessica Nicolette Cabrera joined the ticket sales staff at Magnolia Gardens. When the bloom season ended, she couldn't wait to return the next year.

At the end of the 2011 season, Nikki was offered a promotion to coordinate the volunteer program. Four great years later, she announced, "I couldn't imagine being anywhere else!"

Since then she has revamped and expanded Magnolia's volunteer program to a corps of 150 volunteers and master gardeners who work in the gardens, greenhouses, administrative office and with special events.

"Our volunteers include teachers, veterans, nurses, homemakers, photographers, musicians, CPAs, students and retirees," Nikki said. "The list is endless, but the skills each of them have are invaluable. They go above and beyond the call of duty for the staff and visitors. Much of our success would not be possible without the help of volunteers."

The volunteers are generous with their time. In exchange they receive the "comradeship with other volunteers and staff," Nikki said. "Lasting friendships, social activities and fun are just some of the unexpected rewards the volunteers gain from their experience at Magnolia."

When Nikki is not at work, her leisure time is taken up with hobbies that "include but are not limited to traveling, swimming, camping, crafting, painting, movies, music, exploring, reading, rearranging my living room every two weeks and spending time with my son."

Of course, because she works at a garden, gardening is one of Nikki's interest. She gets her hands dirty along with the gardening staff and volunteers to add new plants to The Conservatory.

"Getting to work alongside with the volunteers is a very rewarding feeling whether I'm digging in the dirt with them or parking cars," Nikki said. "We meet every Wednesday in The Conservatory ready to work. The most rewarding part of The Conservatory is when we take a step back and look at all the work we put in from planting new plants, transplanting, pruning, weeding or pest control. When we see everything is thriving we gain a sense of accomplishment that is beyond gratifying! Like they said; it's a labor of love!"

Nikki hopes to engage the volunteers and master gardeners to pool their energy to help organizations beyond Magnolia. Two organizations, the Berkeley County First Steps and the Lowcountry Food Bank, deserve the help, she said.

With Berkeley County First Steps, an early childhood education program, "We have the opportunity to make a difference," Nikki said. "These children are our future."

Three years ago, Magnolia began collecting food for the Lowcountry Food Bank during the holiday season. "I have seen the plethora of food donated by our visitors," Nikki said. "What I don't see is the army of people who have to sort through all of the food then repack it so it's ready to be given to a family in need. That's where our volunteers can make a difference."

"Of course, there are many other organizations that I would like to get involved with, but these two hit home for me."

 

Sharing the Romance Winners to Wed

Wedding WinnersCourtney Sweetser and Caleb Smith of Raleigh, N.C., will exchange their wedding vows at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, in The Carriage House at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The couple won "Sharing the Romance," a $50,000 wedding giveaway offered by Magnolia and 19 local wedding vendors. Fox24-TV and "Charleston Weddings" published by "Charleston Magazine," are the contest's media sponsors. For more information about the couple and the contest, CLICK HERE.

 

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.

Joseph McGill

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
  • Humane Net
  • 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


 

Couple bags wedding contest with
social media, hunting

Wedding Giveaway Winners

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:

ACW Limo - limousine for bride and groom
Artistic Eye Productions, video services
Bellelina Skincare And Makeup Studio, Fabulous Bride Package to include makeup and pampering services for the bride
Bridal House of Charleston, wedding gown
Charleston Place Hotel, two nights hotel stay
Cindy Zingerella of Engaging Events, wedding planner and reception flowers
Classical Charleston, ceremony music
Complete Music of Charleston, DJ service
David's Tuxedos - tuxedo for groom
Dodeline Design - invitation and save the dates
Elaine's Events, cake
EventWorks, rental service
Mix Charleston, bar service
Mosaic Catering
Richard Bell Photography
Snyder Event Rentals
TapSnap1063, photo entertainment
Tiger Lily Florist and wedding floral designer Gayla Harvey, ceremony and personal flowers
Vanity Salon, hair design services for the bride
Wedding Hanger Shop, personalized wedding hangers


N.C. couple wins "Sharing the Romance"
wedding giveaway

Wedding WinnersA 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:

ACW Limo - limousine for bride and groom
Artistic Eye Productions, video services
Bellelina Skincare And Makeup Studio
Bridal House of Charleston, wedding gown
Charleston Place Hotel, two nights hotel stay
Cindy Zingerella of Engaging Events, wedding planner and reception flowers
Classical Charleston, ceremony music
Complete Music of Charleston, DJ service
David's Tuxedos - tuxedo for groom
Dodeline Design - invitation and save the dates
Elaine's Events, cake
EventWorks, rental service
Mix Charleston, bar service
Mosaic Catering
Richard Bell Photography
Snyder Event Rentals
TapSnap1002, photo entertainment
Tiger Lily Florist and wedding floral designer Gayla Harvey, ceremony and personal flowers
Wedding Hanger Shop, personalized wedding hangers

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

Egret In Flight

Charleston-area photographers took the top three prizes in the 4th Annual Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Photo Contest with images of birds.

Justin Falk of Charleston was awarded first place and a $300 prize with "Egret in Flight". The second-place prize and $250 went to David Archer of Summerville for "Little Blue Heron Chicks" Charleston resident Mary Wessner's "Waiting for Takeoff" won the $200 third-place prize.

Archer and Wessner also received $35 honorable mention prizes for "Great Egret in Breeding Plummage" and "Listening Intently," respectively.

Judges also choose eight other entries for $35 honorable mention prizes. Honorable mention winners were:
· Cary McDonald, Mount Pleasant, "Flying Fish"
· Arthur Ellis, North Charleston, "Creeping Green Heron"
· Leah Sparks, Charleston, "White Flight" and "Take Off"
· Michael Watts, Martinez, Ga., "Breakfast"
· Karen Seals, North Charleston, "Living History"
· Matt Krausmann, Summerville, "Mom I'm Hungry Again"
· Jim Miller, Mount Pleasant, "Swamp Opera"

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

Magnolia Plantation on P&C TV

 

Winners announced in Magnolia Gardens poetry contest
CLICK HERE

 

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"

Poetry Winner

(photo)
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

PoetPam 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

Ken WeaverAtlanta 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.

For more information about Weaver, visit his website at: www.kenweaverweavingsandpaintings.net

Ken Weaver