South Carolina is home to many unique gardens, located all over the state. From the beautiful South Carolina Botanical Garden on the grounds of Clemson University to the majestic Swan Lake Iris Gardens in Sumter to the famously gorgeous Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, discover why these South Carolina gardens are a must-see for anyone visiting the Palmetto State.
South Carolina Botanical Garden at Clemson University – Clemson, SC
Started as a small camellia preserve in the 1950s, the South Carolina Botanical Garden has blossomed into a 295-acre sanctuary for hundreds of different plants.
Visitors are given the opportunity to experience something truly unique at the South Carolina Botanical Garden. The Natural Heritage Garden Trail is home to the Cove Forest as well as the Maritime Forest — two completely different habitats in close proximity to each other. The property also includes a Desert Garden. The trails evolve constantly, with new flowers and plants blossoming each day.
The gardens are home to two historical properties: The Hunt Cabin, which was built in 1826, and the Hanover House, which at more than 300 years old is the second oldest wood-frame structure in the state.
The South Carolina Botanical Garden provides numerous educational opportunities from public classes to special events, making the South Carolina Botanical Garden the perfect place for visitors who are interested in botany. The grounds are free of charge and open from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year.
Brookgreen Gardens — Murrells Inlet, SC
Brookgreen Gardens was founded in 1931 by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Anna was an award-winning sculptor, and they both shared a love of nature and art. Since the garden’s founding, it has developed into a cultural center for the community around it. Covering more than 9,000 acres, this historic property has something exciting for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Explore the Live Oak Allée, with its 250-year-old live oak trees, or visit the Huntington Sculpture Garden to see some of Anna’s breathtaking sculptures. There’s also the Dorothy P. Peace Garden Room for Children, the Kitchen Garden and the Brenda W. Rosen Carolina Terrace Garden, which hosts an array of perennials and roses.
At Brookgreen Gardens, you can experience the serenity of nature and art all in one place. The gardens are home to more than 2,000 works created by more than 450 artists.
Brookgreen Gardens offers a selection of tours, programs and exhibits for visitors interested in learning more about the gardens, as well as the other exhibits on the grounds. The gardens are open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Swan Lake Iris Gardens — Sumter, SC
Swan Lake Iris Gardens began as a private fishing retreat in 1927. Since then, it has become a must-see destination for nature and animal lovers alike. It’s the only public park in the United States to feature all eight swan species, and it’s also home to the nation’s most extensive plantings of Japanese iris in the world.
The northern side of Swan Lake Iris Gardens is known as the “natural side,” as it’s more untouched and gives visitors the chance to see a wide variety of wildlife in their natural habitat. The Talking Tree Trail showcases the different trees, from loblolly pines to bald cypress, found on the grounds.
Visitors can explore different gardens, including the Butterfly Garden, which emphasizes the importance of pollination and butterflies in nature. There is also the Brail Garden for the sight-impaired to touch and smell the various flowers and plants. And for visitors with a sweet tooth, the Chocolate Garden hosts various plants that smell or look like chocolate.
Swan Lake Iris Gardens offers many educational opportunities for visitors and hosts numerous events throughout the year, including the state’s oldest festival: the Iris Festival. The grounds are open daily from 7:30 a.m. to dusk (except during the Iris Festival on Memorial Day weekend).