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."
Winners announced in 2nd Annual
Garden of Romance Poetry Contest
A British literature teacher in New York and an Indiana high school student took the tops prizes in the 2nd Annual Garden of Romance Poetry Contest sponsored by Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
Stacy Pratt, an assistant professor of English at Jefferson State University of New York in Watertown, won first place in the adult division with "A Soldier's Wife at Magnolia." The first-place prize is $500.
Lauren Koch, a student at Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, Ind., will receive the first-place prize in the youth division with "At the Garden of Magnolia." She won an iPad.
Trident student picked for French garden internship
Tripp Odom (right) pictured with past intern and current Magnolia Garden Designer and Volunteer Coordinator, Katherine Reeves White (left)
John W. "Tripp" Odom III, a second-year horticulture science student at Trident Technical College, has been selected for a garden internship in France sponsored by Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and the French Heritage Society.
Odom will intern at Chateau de Brécy near Bayeux in June, Jardin Botanique de Vauville near Cherbourg in July and Château de la Bourdaisière near Tours in August.
"I am going into this with an open mind to absorb as much information as possible and broaden my understanding of garden design," Odom said. "There will be something to learn from each of the gardens."
This will not be Odom's first overseas educational experience. As a high school student, he was a Rotary International exchange student to Brazil.
"Studying in Brazil holds a special place in my heart and has given me a desire to travel and learn about other countries and cultures," said Odom, who speaks French, Portuguese and Spanish.
"I have always been fascinated and in awe of the wonderful things France has to offer," he said. "The people. The language. The architecture. The music. The arts and the amazing food. But I especially love their gardens. I love the formal designs that are symmetrical and have perfect balance. I also admire the romance gardens where everything is lush and overflowing."
Tom Johnson, Magnolia's executive director, said, "Each year we are excited to see a young person who loves gardens leave for France to experience the joy of gardens and garden design. Tripp's understanding of gardening embodies what sets Magnolia's romantic style of garden apart from a formal garden. At Magnolia we attempt to cooperate with nature instead of trying to control nature."
The internship is open to American college students enrolled in an accredited two- or four-year horticulture or landscape architecture program. Magnolia sponsors the internship with the French Heritage Society.
Odom is the second Trident Tech student selected for the internship. Katherine Reeves White was the first in 2011 followed by 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 Gardens names new events team
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens has filled two key positions on the staff that coordinates corporate and social events and weddings.
Leanza Kauffman, a former sales and catering manager at a mountain-top resort in Virginia, has been named Magnolia's events manager.
Maclain Copeland, a recent graduate of East Carolina University, has been named assistant events manager.
Kauffman replaces Jessica Cruz, who leaves this month to open her own wedding planning service, Cruz Coordination.
Tom Johnson, Magnolia's executive director, said, "Jessica has done a phenomenal job in transforming Magnolia into a premier wedding venue. We wish her well in her business, and I am sure we'll see her here with her clients. Magnolia's events office now has a dynamic duo led by Leanza."
Kauffman holds a double degree from the University of Central Florida in event management and hospitality management. She has coordinated weddings as a summer intern at the Biltmore House and Gardens at Asheville, N.C. At Mountain Lake Lodge at Pembroke, Virginia, she supervised corporate and social events.
Kauffman said she's excited to have an opportunity at Magnolia to do more of what she enjoys the most, assisting brides on their big day. "I will get to focus on social events and weddings on a larger scale with weddings year round."
At East Carolina University, Copeland earned a degree in hospitality leadership with a concentration in special events. She minored in business administration.
Copeland was an intern with the Cumberland Hospitality Group in Nashville, Tenn. She assisted designers and planners with numerous special events, including weddings, corporate activities and the Country Music Award festivities.
Former Magnolia intern
selected for new garden position
Katherine Reeves White has been named the garden designer and volunteer coordinator at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
White, a graduate of the horticulture department at Trident Technical College, is filling the newly created position of garden designer.
As garden designer she will select plants for containers and flower beds throughout the gardens and grow plants in the greenhouse.
Reeves will supervise 130 volunteers who provide administrative and garden support and help with special events. Nikki Cabrera, former volunteer coordinator, has been promoted to assistant manager at the ticket booth.
In the summer of 2011 White participated in a horticultural internship in France sponsored by Magnolia and the French Heritage Society in Paris.
"Magnolia is giving me yet another amazing opportunity," she said. "I am so excited to work with and learn from executive director Tom Johnson and camellia collection director Miles Beach."
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...
Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Caleb Smith
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.
Courtney 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.
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
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
Magnolia Gardens, One of America's Most Beautiful
My Charleston Today 5.22.14
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.