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Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens | Pawleys Island, SC

Pawleys Island - Brookgreen Gardens

Photo credit: Brookgreen Gardens

Ever Changing. Simply Amazing.

Ever Changing. Simply Amazing. When I was a youngster, no summer was complete without at least one trip to Brookgreen Gardens. The Fighting Stallions sculpture at the entrance was beautiful, but nothing could compare to that moment I rounded a corner and came upon the giant white statue of Pegasus, poised for flight. It never failed to take my childhood breath away. Now, almost 50 years later, it still does. If you’re near the Grand Strand this year, take time to visit this magical destination.

Go for the outdoor sculpture, which, anecdotes aside, appeals to all ages. Go for the gardens, which create perfect foils for the sculpture, or is it the other way around?

And by all means, go for the history that pervades the grounds, seen in the remnants of rice fields, dikes and stone paths leading to the Waccamaw River. Some of our nation’s most infamous leaders were frequent visitors, including Aaron Burr, father of Theodosia, plantation mistress whose northbound ship was lost at sea.

Brookgreen might have been just another semi-crumbling ruin without the second round of great visionaries who found it and redeemed it. Here’s the story.

In 1931, Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington founded Brookgreen Gardens, a non-profit garden museum, to preserve the native flora and fauna and display objects of art within that natural setting. She was a sculptress – one of the best known of her day. He came from a family of wealthy industrialists and was an erudite philanthropist. Together, they transformed Brookgreen into a masterpiece.

Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark with the world’s most significant collection of figurative sculpture, in an outdoor setting, by American artists. It has the only zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums on the coast of the Carolinas. (I hope the otters still frolic and play – watching them is pure joy.)

It’s been called a “top public garden” by Coastal Living magazine, and won the 2009 Reader’s Choice Award for Public Gardens, by Southern Living.

One recent visitor described it as “a garden of sculpture, flowers and wildife unlike any I’ve seen.” Another recommended the she crab soup from the café. (Ask for a dollop of sherry – it’s de rigueur to bring out the delicate flavors.)

Wow factor: The sheer size of the 50-foot sculptures.

Hint: Wear comfortable shoes and know that the reasonable admission price includes seven consecutive days of entry. Across the highway, Atalaya, the Huntington’s summer getaway, is also well worth a visit, as is a boat excursion during the warmer months.

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