Magnolia Plantation
   

$5 Guided Tours in September

Magnolia is providing some post-storm relief for Charleston residents and visitors with $5 tours until the end of September. This special offer will be available for the Slavery to Freedom Tour, the Nature Train Tour, the Boat Tour, the House Tour and the Audubon Swamp Garden. The general garden admission is required to enjoy a $5 tour.

 

Young horticulturist breaks new ground at Magnolia Gardens

Seth
Seth Allem

Seth Allen, who showed early signs as a plant enthusiast when he was growing up in Loxley, Ala., was destined to become the first curator of collections at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

In this newly created position, Allen will oversee the propagation, documentation and hybridization of plants, including an effort to expand Magnolia's historic camellia collection, Tom Johnson, Magnolia's executive director said. Since the 1840s, 147 camellias have been named and registered at Magnolia. Johnson said, "Seth will help us continue that tradition at America's oldest garden."

Allen is currently a propagator at Green Nurseries and Landscape in Fairhope, Ala., his first fulltime position in the plant industry after he earned a horticulture degree in 2013 from Auburn University. His resume includes an internship at the prestigious Longwood Gardens in Kenneth Square, Pa. This year, he received a master's degree in horticulture from Auburn, which likely came as no surprise to his family.

"My mom said my first word was flower," Allen said with a broad smile. "I was always interested in plants. At our home, I had a garden with vegetables and annuals. When I was eleven a lady in my church invited me to join the local camellia club." Being the youngest member of the club, Allen certainly stood out among the adults who helped him hone his interest in camellias.

The large white bloom of Alba Plena, is Allen's favorite camellia. "It was one of the first brought to the United States in the late 1700s," he said. "It is fascinating to me that we still grow plants that old and that is what has drawn me to Magnolia." A large Alba Plena stands on the river side of the main house at Magnolia where the Rev. John Grimké Drayton, who established the romantic-style gardens at Magnolia, planted it in the 1840s.

This new opportunity at Magnolia excites Allen. "This garden has a huge history with camellias. So many camellias have been introduced from this garden" he said. "A lot of those (camellias) are not as popular as Professor Sargent. It will be fun to see some new camellias and some old friends."

When Allen begins as curator at Magnolia on Jan. 1 his responsibilities will include leading guests on camellia walks through the gardens and immersing them in camellia history. "I am so looking forward to sharing all of the things I've learned throughout the years with more people. I want you to come join me as I share my interest in historical plant collections. I will also be looking for volunteers to get involved with some of the new projects I have planned."

 

 

Magnolia Foundation grant supports two Trident Tech scholarships

Latasha
Latasha Banks
Eleis
Eleis Lester

For the second consecutive year, the Magnolia Plantation Foundation has funded scholarships for two students pursuing associate degrees in horticulture and hospitality and tourism management at Trident Technical College.

Eleis Lester, a resident of downtown Charleston, and Litasha Banks, who lives in North Charleston, are recipients of the scholarships named for 19th century attorney, journalist and diplomat Archibald Grimké.

Born into slavery in 1849 on a Lowcountry rice plantation, Grimké was one of the first black students enrolled in the Harvard Law School. He was a cousin of the Rev. John Grimké Drayton, who in 1870 opened Magnolia's gardens as Charleston's first tourist attraction.

Lester, a horticulture major, and Banks, a hospitality and tourism management student, are each in their second year at Trident. They are scheduled to graduate in 2018.

Lester, a 2000 graduate of St. Johns College in Maryland, said, "The scholarship will allow me to enroll in classes that I could not otherwise afford as well as purchase important books and resources that will be vital to my career. Upon graduating, I hope to work in the public sector, helping municipalities design and maintain public spaces with a focus on native plants and sustainable practices."

Banks attended Stall High School. She thought her dream of returning to school had passed her by. She has a goal to lead her own event planning company that specializes in weddings. Being selected for the Grimké scholarship, she said, shows that her hard work is appreciated. "No words could truly express the gratitude that I feel right now."

In 2016, Katina Bosko of Summerville and Lynette Cobb of North Charleston were the first students selected for the Grimké scholarship.

The Magnolia Plantation Foundation, the non-profit arm of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, awards grants to 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.

 

Dog Adoption Charleston

 

Plants Now Available For Sale at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

Gilliard Garden Center Magnolia PlantationThe Gilliard Garden Center offers a variety of specialty and seasonal plants, including heirloom and hybrid flowering plants, herbs and shrubs for your landscaping needs. The garden center is located adjacent to the Magnolia Plantation & Gardens ticket booth and does not require garden admission. Visit the garden center to take home a piece of America's oldest romantic style gardens.

Hours of operation are 10 am – 2:30 pm Monday – Friday and 9 am – 4 pm on Saturday & Sunday.

Magnolia dedicated the Gilliard Garden Center to honor Tena Lena Gilliard who was a greeter and revered employee at Magnolia during the turn of the 20th century. Gilliard once lived in the cabin that is now the garden center that bears her name. It is the second action Magnolia has taken to recognize Gilliard. In 1942 Magnolia registered the Tena Gilliard Camellia with the International Camellia Register.

 

The stars aligned at Magnolia Gardens to
benefit Make-A-Wish South Carolina

Make-A-Wish"An Evening of Jazz Under the Stars" raised more than $65,000 for Make-A-Wish South Carolina, a statewide charity that grants unique experiences for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

During the gala on Sunday, May 21, donors heard the emotional story of a precious wish child 13-year-old Ryan Durant of Goose Creek, and his parents, Michael and Jenny Durant. The family shared Ryan's tough battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and his wish to meet his favorite gamer and YouTube star Markiplier.

To make more wishes possible for other children donors placed silent and live auction bids on high-end items and dined on dishes prepared by some of Charleston's top chefs. The city's jazz ambassador Charlton Singleton and Contemporary Flow entertained a capacity crowd in Magnolia Plantation and Garden's historic Carriage House on the Ashley River.

Tom Johnson, Magnolia's executive director, said, "The success of this inaugural event not only speaks well for Charleston's generosity and the city's hospitality industry but also secures the likelihood this gala will become a premier fundraising event. It is our hope that we've established a long relationship with Make-A-Wish South Carolina."

Bill Tiller, the charity's president and CEO, said, "We are deeply grateful to the many great folks at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens for their partnership and generous investment in our mission to children facing life-threatening medical conditions. They understand the power of a wish to transform lives, and we are delighted to have them as partners."

The event was "a wonderful success by every measure, and we look forward to an even bigger and better time next year," he said. "I look forward to sharing with everyone a year from now the wonderful wish stories of the lives touched by the wishes funded in our inaugural year."

The evening was a showcase for Charleston's top chefs Michelle Weaver, Charleston Grill; April Robinson, Butter Tapas; Marcus Middleton, Middleton Made Cuisines; David Schuttenberg, Fish Restaurant; Anthony DiBernardo, Swig & Swine; and Sermet Aslan, Southernterranean Cuisine-Bar. Specialty items were provided by Beyond Expectations, Cane Rhum Bar and Naked Turtle Rum and Wild Flour Pastry.

 

Long White BridgeNew Summerville Marketing Program Takes Flight

The Town of Summerville, South Carolina, has launched a new marketing campaign and Magnolia, America's oldest garden, is the only local garden that city officials tout as a place to see when visiting the Flower Town in the Pines. "Historic Magnolia Plantation consists of lush gardens through which flora and fauna-inclined visitors can meander. The fall season brings with it fresh mirabilis, roses, lycoris, crape myrtle, Mexican petunia and more plant life." CLICK HERE to view the full press release.

 

 

Swamp Garden gets new naturalist for improved maintenance

Stacy Turner
Stacy Turner

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

Land ManagementMagnolia 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."


 

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 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

 

 

Magnolia Gardens, One of America's Most Beautiful
My Charleston Today 5.22.14

Magnolia Plantation on P&C TV

 

 

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