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Anne K Moore
Photographs Anne K Moore

The Garden Writers Association is sponsoring a tour at two of the oldest plantations in America. Members and non-members alike are invited to these first time Garden Writers private group tours taking place in late March, just when the azaleas should be at their peak bloom. If you love to write about or photograph gardens, this is for you. You will learn some incredible history, have plenty of time to take photographs, be treated to a low-country luncheon buffet under a tent at Middleton Place, and stroll through two very different but both magnificent gardens.

On tour is Magnolia Plantation, designated as one of America’s Most Beautiful Gardens, and Middleton Place, a National Historic Landmark and home to America’s Oldest Landscaped Garden.

I have been privileged to have visited these plantations more than once. In my view, Magnolia Plantation is a more relaxed country garden while Middleton Place is more formal with sweeping grounds and might best be known for its Butterfly Lakes.

Don’t miss the boat ride through the old rice fields at Magnolia where you will see all kinds of wildlife, including wading birds and maybe even an alligator or two. For more birding opportunities, take a walk through the Audubon Swamp Garden.

At Middleton, visit the reconstructed Stable yards where you will see 18th century livestock and demonstrations of old plantation crafts, such as barrel making and wool spinning. Don’t miss the water buffalo and their Civil War story. If alligators are your “thing” then tread softly down near the mill pond at Middleton to spot and photograph the resident ‘gators sunning on the grass along the shore. Don’t get too close. You would be amazed at how quickly they can move!

Don’t miss a visit to the Garden Center at Middleton Place, located next to the parking area. Here you should find the book, Middleton Place - A Phoenix Still Rising, written by Charles Duell, the last owner of Middleton Place and now the President of the non-profit Middleton Place Foundation. The book is a look back in history at the people, places, and livestock that made up the day to day living at the plantation. It is an extremely interesting read.

If you plan to go, be sure to check on room availability and pricing. The rooms are more costly during this season and are disappearing quickly, since Charleston is having their annual Festival of Homes & Gardens during this time. You might want to plan your stay to include one of the house and garden tours in Charleston’s historic district.


  • Friday March 27, 2015
  • Magnolia Plantation & Middleton Place, near Charleston, South Carolina
  • Early Registration, by Feb. 20, 2015

   Members & Spouses: $55 per person
   Non-Members: $75 per person

  • Late Registration, after Feb. 20, 2015

   Members & Spouses: $75 per person
   Non-members: $95 per person

  • Registration & Cancellation Deadline March 20, 2015

GWA Morning at Magnolia Plantation, 3550 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414
7:30 AM--Private photo shoot of the grounds prior to public opening
8:15 AM to 8:45 AM--Coffee gathering, registration
8:45 AM to 10:00 AM--Business meeting and presentation by Tom Johnson, Executive Director Magnolia Plantation, and extreme collector of Azaleas and Camellias.
10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon--Guided tours and/or tour on your own.
12:00 Noon to 12:30 PM--Drive to Middleton Place for afternoon session.

Afternoon at Middleton Place and Gardens, 4300 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414
12:30 PM to 1:30 PM--Low Country Buffet lunch Middleton Place
1:30 to 2:00 PM--Presentation on the history of Middleton Place and Gardens
2:00 to 4:00 PM--Guided tours and/or tour the grounds on your own.
4:00 PM--In the parking lot of Middleton Place: Trunk Show. A time when we literally open up the trunks of our vehicles and raffle off an amazing array of "stuff" donated by horticultural vendors.
For more information and to register, go to the Garden Writers Region IV Regional Meeting page.

More about these gardens:  Preserving old camellias. Video, Romantic vs Formal Gardens.

Posted January 23 2015

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