Located in the charming city of Charleston, SC, Brookgreen Gardens is a remarkable destination that seamlessly blends art, nature, and history. This magnificent garden spans over 9,000 acres and boasts an awe-inspiring collection of sculptures, exquisite flowers, and lush landscapes. As you explore the enchanting pathways, you will be transported to a world where creativity flourishes amidst nature’s beauty. With its rich heritage and captivating allure, Brookgreen Gardens is a true gem that must be experienced firsthand.
History of Brookgreen Gardens
Origins of Brookgreen Gardens
Brookgreen Gardens, located in Charleston, SC, has a fascinating history that dates back to its founding in 1931. The vision for the gardens was conceived by Archer Milton Huntington, a wealthy philanthropist and art collector, and his wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, a renowned sculptor. Archer and Anna were passionate about preserving the natural beauty of the Lowcountry and creating a space for the public to appreciate art and nature.
Development of Brookgreen Gardens
The development of Brookgreen Gardens can be attributed to the tireless efforts of Archer and Anna Huntington. They transformed the former Brookgreen Plantation, which was once a rice plantation and later a working farm, into a stunning combination of art and nature. The gardens feature a diverse range of landscapes, including pristine gardens, tranquil ponds, and lush forests, all meticulously designed to complement the artwork on display.
Significance of Brookgreen Gardens
Brookgreen Gardens holds immense significance as one of the largest and most significant collections of figurative sculpture in the United States. It serves as a testament to the Huntington’s dedication to preserving art and nature for future generations. The gardens have also played a vital role in promoting cultural awareness and appreciation through various exhibits and events. With its rich history and continued commitment to conservation and education, Brookgreen Gardens remains a beloved destination for locals and visitors alike.
Features and Attractions
The Sculpture Collection
At the heart of Brookgreen Gardens lies its impressive sculpture collection, featuring works by renowned artists from around the world. Sculptures are strategically placed throughout the gardens, blending seamlessly with the natural surroundings. Visitors can marvel at beautifully crafted sculptures depicting human figures, animals, and mythological creatures, showcasing a diverse range of styles and artistic interpretations.
The Lowcountry Zoo
The Lowcountry Zoo at Brookgreen Gardens offers visitors a unique opportunity to observe and learn about the wildlife native to the Lowcountry region. The zoo is home to a wide variety of species, including river otters, red foxes, bald eagles, and alligators. It provides a safe sanctuary for these animals while allowing visitors to appreciate their beauty and importance in the ecosystem.
The Botanical Gardens
Brookgreen Gardens boasts an extensive collection of meticulously maintained botanical gardens that showcase the diverse plant life of the Lowcountry. From vibrant flowers to majestic oak trees, the gardens offer a year-round display of colors and scents. Visitors can stroll through themed gardens, such as the Palmetto Garden and the Children’s Discovery Garden, which provide unique experiences and educational opportunities for all ages.
The Butterfly House
A visit to the Butterfly House at Brookgreen Gardens is a magical experience for nature enthusiasts of all ages. This enclosed habitat provides a haven for a multitude of butterfly species, offering visitors a chance to witness the dazzling array of colors and patterns up close. The Butterfly House not only serves as a delightful attraction but also plays a crucial role in the conservation efforts aimed at protecting these delicate creatures.
The Children’s Discovery Room
Brookgreen Gardens recognizes the importance of engaging young visitors in meaningful and educational experiences. The Children’s Discovery Room offers interactive exhibits and activities designed to spark curiosity and a love for nature. Children can explore hands-on exhibits, learn about native animals, and even create their own artwork inspired by the gardens. This dedicated space ensures that Brookgreen Gardens remains a destination the whole family can enjoy.
Events and Exhibitions
Annual Sculpture Exhibit
Each year, Brookgreen Gardens hosts an annual sculpture exhibit, showcasing the work of both emerging and established sculptors. This highly anticipated event attracts visitors from far and wide, offering them a chance to see new and exciting additions to the garden’s permanent collection. The exhibit features a diverse range of sculptures, allowing visitors to explore different artistic styles and interpretations.
Summer Evening Concert Series
Brookgreen Gardens comes alive during the summer months with its enchanting Evening Concert Series. Nestled amidst the gardens, visitors can enjoy live performances by talented musicians of various genres. From classical melodies to jazz tunes, the concert series offers a delightful way to spend a summer evening surrounded by the beauty of nature and art.
Gullah Geechee Cultural Exhibition
As part of its commitment to promoting cultural awareness, Brookgreen Gardens hosts the Gullah Geechee Cultural Exhibition. This exhibition celebrates the rich heritage and contributions of the Gullah Geechee people, who are descendants of African slaves brought to the Lowcountry region. Visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant traditions, language, music, and crafts of this unique culture.
Art and Craft Festival
The annual Art and Craft Festival is a highlight for art enthusiasts and collectors. The festival showcases the work of talented artists and craftsmen from the local area and beyond. Visitors can explore a wide array of artistic mediums, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and jewelry. It’s an excellent opportunity to support local artists and take home a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
Protection of Wildlife
Brookgreen Gardens is deeply committed to the protection and preservation of wildlife in the Lowcountry. The gardens provide a safe habitat for a variety of indigenous species, ensuring their survival and contributing to the overall biodiversity of the region. Through careful land management practices and conservation efforts, Brookgreen Gardens actively promotes the importance of wildlife conservation.
Preservation of Historical Structures
In addition to its natural wonders, Brookgreen Gardens also houses several historical structures that serve as a testament to the rich history of the region. These structures, including former rice plantations and slave quarters, have been meticulously restored and preserved to provide visitors with a glimpse into the past. By protecting these historical landmarks, Brookgreen Gardens honors the contributions of those who came before and fosters a deeper understanding of the region’s complex history.
Environmental Sustainability Initiatives
As an advocate for environmental sustainability, Brookgreen Gardens employs various initiatives to minimize its environmental impact. Through the use of renewable energy sources, water conservation practices, and eco-friendly landscaping techniques, the gardens strive to operate in a sustainable manner. They also promote environmental education and awareness to inspire visitors to adopt similar practices in their own lives.
Guided Garden Tours
Brookgreen Gardens offers guided garden tours led by knowledgeable and passionate docents. These tours provide visitors with valuable insights into the history, art, and natural wonders of the gardens. Whether exploring the sculpture collection or diving into the various themed gardens, guided tours offer a deeper appreciation for the beauty and significance of Brookgreen Gardens.
For those interested in the art of sculpture, Brookgreen Gardens provides engaging and immersive workshops led by experienced sculptors. Participants have the opportunity to learn various sculpting techniques and create their own small-scale sculptures. These workshops offer a hands-on experience that highlights the artistic process and encourages creativity.
Wildlife Conservation Seminars
Brookgreen Gardens actively promotes wildlife conservation through educational seminars led by experts in the field. These seminars cover a wide range of topics, including wildlife ecology, conservation strategies, and the importance of protecting indigenous species. By raising awareness and providing valuable information, these seminars inspire visitors to take an active role in preserving the natural world.
Art and Nature Camps
To nurture the next generation’s love for art and nature, Brookgreen Gardens offers art and nature camps for children. These camps provide a unique opportunity for children to explore the gardens, participate in art activities, and learn about the importance of conservation. Through hands-on experiences and educational workshops, children gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world and develop their artistic skills.
Brookgreen Gardens features gift shops where visitors can find a wide array of souvenirs, books, artwork, and crafts. These shops offer a unique selection of items inspired by the gardens and the Lowcountry, providing visitors with the opportunity to take home a memento of their visit or find a special gift for a loved one.
Restaurants and Cafes
Visitors to Brookgreen Gardens can enjoy a variety of dining options within the gardens. From casual cafes serving sandwiches and salads to more upscale restaurants offering gourmet cuisine, there is something to satisfy every palate. With a focus on locally sourced ingredients and regional flavors, the dining options at Brookgreen Gardens provide a delightful culinary experience.
For a more casual dining experience, Brookgreen Gardens offers picturesque picnic areas throughout the gardens. Visitors can bring their own refreshments and enjoy a leisurely picnic amidst the natural beauty of the gardens. These designated areas provide a tranquil setting to relax, rejuvenate, and savor the surroundings.
Brookgreen Gardens strives to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for all visitors. The gardens offer a range of accessibility services, including wheelchair accessibility, accessible parking spaces, and accessible restrooms. Additionally, trained staff members are available to assist visitors with special needs and provide any necessary accommodations to ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit.
Membership and Support
Benefits of Membership
Becoming a member of Brookgreen Gardens offers numerous benefits and opportunities for engagement. Members enjoy unlimited free admission to the gardens, exclusive access to special events and exhibitions, discounts at the gift shops and restaurants, and invitations to member-only programs. Membership at Brookgreen Gardens provides a unique connection to the gardens and allows individuals and families to support its continued growth and conservation efforts.
Brookgreen Gardens relies on the support of donors to maintain and enhance its facilities, programs, and exhibitions. Contributions to Brookgreen Gardens can be made in various ways, including general donations, sponsorships of specific projects or events, and planned giving. Donors have the satisfaction of knowing that their support directly contributes to the preservation of art, nature, and education for future generations.
Brookgreen Gardens offers volunteer programs that give individuals the opportunity to contribute their time and skills to the organization. From assisting with educational programs to providing guided tours, volunteers play a vital role in creating a positive experience for visitors. Volunteering at Brookgreen Gardens not only provides a sense of fulfillment but also allows individuals to be part of a community passionate about art, nature, and conservation.
Plan Your Visit
Hours of Operation
Brookgreen Gardens is open to the public year-round, with varying hours of operation throughout the seasons. It is generally open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, and during select times, it extends its hours for special events and exhibitions. Visitors are encouraged to check the official Brookgreen Gardens website or contact the gardens directly for the most up-to-date information on operating hours.
Admission tickets to Brookgreen Gardens can be purchased online or at the gate upon arrival. The gardens offer various ticket options, including single-day tickets, annual passes, and discounted rates for seniors, military personnel, and students. Children under the age of six can enter free of charge. Special rates may apply for certain events and exhibitions.
Directions and Transportation
Brookgreen Gardens is conveniently located just south of Myrtle Beach in Murrells Inlet, SC. Visitors can access the gardens via car or public transportation. The gardens provide ample parking spaces for visitors, and designated spaces are available for individuals with disabilities. For those using public transportation, various shuttle services and taxi companies are available in the area.
While Brookgreen Gardens does not offer on-site accommodations, there are several lodging options in close proximity to the gardens. Visitors can choose from a range of hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals in Murrells Inlet, Myrtle Beach, and surrounding areas. Booking accommodations in advance is recommended, especially during peak seasons and special events.
Huntington Beach State Park
Located just a short distance from Brookgreen Gardens, Huntington Beach State Park offers visitors a chance to explore pristine beaches, maritime forests, and diverse ecosystems. The park is home to abundant wildlife, including alligators, egrets, and loggerhead turtles. Visitors can enjoy activities such as birdwatching, hiking, fishing, and picnicking, making it an ideal complement to a visit to Brookgreen Gardens.
A visit to Atalaya Castle provides a glimpse into the unique architectural history of the region. Located within Huntington Beach State Park, this Spanish-inspired castle was once the winter home of Archer and Anna Huntington. Visitors can explore the castle’s distinctive features, including its courtyard, studios, and living quarters, while learning about the fascinating lives of the Huntingtons.
The Market Common
For those seeking shopping, dining, and entertainment options, The Market Common in Myrtle Beach is a must-visit destination. This vibrant retail and entertainment district offers a wide array of boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and theaters. With its pedestrian-friendly streets, beautifully landscaped parks, and bustling atmosphere, The Market Common provides a delightful shopping and dining experience.
Brookgreen Gardens is situated within a short drive of the historic city of Charleston. Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture, Charleston offers endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. From exploring the charming streets of the historic district to visiting renowned museums and plantations, Charleston provides a captivating glimpse into the past and present of the Lowcountry.
Guidelines and Regulations
Brookgreen Gardens welcomes visitors to capture the beauty of the gardens through photography. However, there are a few guidelines to ensure the preservation of the artworks and the comfort of other visitors. Tripods and stands are not permitted in the gardens unless prior permission is obtained. Additionally, commercial photography and drone usage require special permits, which can be obtained through the gardens’ administration.
While Brookgreen Gardens understands the love for pets, only service animals are allowed within the gardens. The gardens strive to maintain a safe and peaceful environment for all visitors, including those with allergies or a fear of animals. Service animals must be properly leashed and under control at all times to ensure the comfort and enjoyment of all visitors.
Respect for Nature
As a sanctuary for wildlife, it is crucial for visitors to respect and appreciate the natural wonders within Brookgreen Gardens. Visitors are encouraged to stay on designated paths and refrain from touching or harming any plants, animals, or sculptures. Littering is strictly prohibited, and visitors are encouraged to dispose of any trash in designated receptacles to maintain the cleanliness and integrity of the gardens.
COVID-19 Safety Measures
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Brookgreen Gardens has implemented several safety measures to ensure the well-being of visitors and staff. These measures include enhanced cleaning protocols, hand sanitizing stations throughout the gardens, and social distancing guidelines. Visitors are encouraged to check the gardens’ website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information on safety measures and any additional requirements.