Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, 1/15/2011 (Part 2)

 From this spot 150 years ago, this picture was taken of the Rev. John Drayton and one of his daughters.  While those who care for it come and go, over its 300 years of wars and hurricanes, the ever changing garden of Magnolia Plantation seems never really to change. 

ON THIS BENCH, PRIOR TO, DURING AND AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, THE REV. JOHN GRIMKE DRAYTON, THE MAJOR EXPANDER OF MAGNOLIA PLANTATION’S ORIGINAL 17TH CENTURY GARDEN, USED TO SIT IN MEDITATION COMPOSING HIS WEEKLY SERMONS FOR DELIVERY AT ANCIENT ST ANDREWS CHURCH, WHICH CAN STILL BE VISITED AND ENJOYED AFTER 250 YEARS, JUST THREE MILES FROM HERE ON THE ROADSIDE TOWARDS CHARLESTON.  HE CONFIDED TO HIS GRANDAUGHTER, MARIE, THAT AT THIS SPOT HE FELT HIMSELF CLOSER TO GOD THAN AT ANY OTHER SPOT IN THE WORLD.  HERE ALSO, HE SPENT AGONIZING HOURS BEFORE WRITING TO HIS FAVORITE DAUGHTER, ELLA, ADVISING HER THAT HE COULD NOT IN GOOD CONSCIENCE ATTEND HER MARRIAGE TO THE SON OF HIS OLD FRIEND, C. G. MEMMINGER, TREASURER OF THE CONFEDERACY, IN THAT YOUNG MEMMINGER EXPRESSED DOUBTS AS TO SOME OF THE BASIC PRECEPTS OF CHRISTIANITY, ANYTHING LESS THAN COMPLETE FAITH BEING INCONCEIVABLE TO HIM.

Another view of the river from the pathway

 

 

Beyond what is now Magnolia Plantation’s waterfowl refuge, for a century prior to the Civil War, marsh areas such as this provided plantations’ greatest source of wealth via rice culture.  Tidal areas were diked, drained by flood gates and planted.  As rice grew, the field was gradually flooded from reservoirs to provide support for the stalks against storms and to drown weeds.  As the rice matured, the field was drained for harvest.

While lucrative, and the subject of much present day romanticizing, for those whose labor produced the crop, the long days of mud, smoldering heat, swarming insects and numerous snakes made rice growing, in reality, something less than romantic.  The owners’ problems lay largely in periodic hurricanes, and annual migrations of bob-o-links (called “rice birds”) which arrived in clouds to consume the golden harvest.  Though shot and eaten by the thousands, these birds consumed one-third of every crop.

The end of slavery, competition from mechanized upland culture, and finally a series of severe hurricanes in the late 1800s, which destroyed most dikes, ended that era.  Recent efforts have been made toward revival, but the “rice birds” and labor problems again prevailed.  Today, the scant plantings of rice in this area, as here at Magnolia, are not for harvest, but for the benefit of wildlife.

Another flower of spring growing next to the swamp

 

One of many scenic bridges

 

The viewing tower was closed. It was in bad repair and was unsafe to use.

 

Another scenic bridge. What is it about a bridge that calls to you and beckons you to cross over?

 

What's wrong with this picture?

 

It's bamboo! Many varieties grow in the SC and GA coastal area. It can be very invasive, but the sound of the wind in the bamboo is indescribable, sort of like the rustle of a woman's silk dress.

 

A bridge built around a tree growing in a swampy area.

Same tree and bridge, other side

 

Ah, that's better. Tree, bridge, and bamboo in the afternoon sun.

 

This is probably the most photographed bridge that you'll see in reference to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

 

The view from the bridge

 

Why did I take this picture upside-down??

 

Gotcha!

 

A small maze of boxwoods

 

A sycamore that Sugar admired.

 

Y'all are gonna love this. A man is buried in the tree. Honest.

 

See the black spot on the tree? That's an exposed area of the coffin. I don't know if he was cremated or not. Working on it.

 

The glare was really severe that afternoon, and I couldn't actually see the screen on the camera, so I just shot at will. Ready, fire, aim.

This concludes the walking portion of our tour. We stopped for refreshments, and on the way out, we saw this sign.

Give fools their gold, and knaves their power;

Let fortune’s bubbles rise and fall;

Who sows a field, or trains a flower,

Or plants a tree, is more than all.

-Whittier (John Greenleaf)

Beautiful nandina, but this photo doesn't do it justice.

 

More nandina, more better.

 

Historical marker for the Rev. John G. Drayton

Rector of nearby St. Andrews Episcopal Church and owner of Magnolia Plantation before, during, and after the Civil War, he redesigned the plantation’s famous garden, then America’s oldest formal garden, from its original French style of Louis XIV to its present style of English informality, which has brought it international fame.  Reduced from great wealth to extreme poverty by the Civil War, he sacrificed property to erect the existing home upon the surviving first floor of the house burned by Gen. Sherman’s Union troops.

I take issue with the comment that the house was burned by General Sherman’s troops.  Sherman headed from Savannah to Columbia which takes a northerly path.  From Savannah to Charleston takes a coastal easterly path, and Sherman was expected to go to Charleston, which he did not.  Just sayin’. 

And where’s the St. Andrews Episcopal Church?  I sense a side trip on the way home…

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One Response to “Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, 1/15/2011 (Part 2)”

  1. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Part 3, Or, Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You « Ruthrawls's Blog Says:

    […] found our way to the St. Andrews Episcopal Church.  No clue what I’m talking about?  Here’s the link to the Magnolia Gardens and the mention of Reverend Drayton. Historical marker for the Rev. John G. […]

    Like

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