St. George, SC - Events of Saturday, May 6, 2017
As we said in our last post, we scheduled a weekend break from our northward travels in St. George, South Carolina, because it gave us the option to do some sightseeing in nearby Charleston. After checking out several possibilities, we decided to visit Magnolia Plantation primarily because the plantation is on the same side of the Ashley River as the campground and was therefore closer than all of the other things we were considering.
Magnolia Plantation was founded in 1676 on the banks of the Ashley River by Thomas Drayton and his wife, Ann. Magnolia was a rice plantation, as were most of the plantations in this area.
Rev. John Grimke-Drayton inherited the plantation from his grandfather in the 1820s. He greatly expanded the gardens because he wanted to make his northern-born wife feel more at home in South Carolina low country. Grimke-Drayton adopted a more naturalized garden theme rather than the French-influenced formal gardens of the day. The gardens became known for its azaleas, which are said to have been introduced to America by Grimke-Drayton, and its camellias.
Admission to the gardens and grounds at Magnolia Plantation is $15. There are a number of special tours for $8 each that include a guided tour of the house, a nature tram, a boat tour on the river, a Slavery to Freedom tour, and a boardwalk tour of the swamp.
We opted for the guided tour of the house. We had a little over an hour before the start of our tour, so we visited the gardens first.
As we said, the garden is primarily a natural, woodland garden. There is a camellia garden and there are lots of azaleas scattered throughout the woodland garden and in small clearings; but the camellias were done blooming, and the azaleas were almost done. There are some annuals to provide some pops of color here and there like the snapdragons, larkspur, and dusty miller at the entrance to the garden shown in the photo above and the red, mauve, and cream-colored salvia surrounding the bench in the photo below.
Planter boxes with snapdragons and pansies added color along the side of a bridge over a pond.
Speaking of bridges, there is a well-known one in the garden called Long Bridge. This bridge is the subject of many, many photographs. It is usually seen surrounded by a spectacular display of azaleas; but as we said earlier, there were very few azaleas still blooming when we were there. You can see a just couple of red azalea flowers at the left end of the bridge.
Another place at Magnolia Plantation that is full of color is the conservatory. It is loaded with colorful tropical plants and dozens of orchids.
We finished up our tour of the garden just in time to head to the house for our 1:30 tour.
Unfortunately, photography is not permitted inside the house, but we did learn a lot about Magnolia Plantation on the tour. The current house is the third house on the plantation. The first house was completed in 1680 by Thomas Drayton. It burned to the ground in 1811. A second house was built nearby using cypress wood and some of the bricks salvaged from the first house.
Rev. John Grimke-Drayton that we mentioned earlier was the owner of Magnolia Plantation during the Civil War. The second house was burned by Union troops in 1865.
The Drayton family had a cottage located about 14 miles up the Ashley River. Shortly after the end of the war, John Grimke-Drayton dismantled the cottage, floated it down the river to Magnolia Plantation on barges, and reassembled it on the burned out foundation of the second home. The cottage was to the left side of the house in the photo above. The porch, the tower (which contains a water cistern), and the right side were later additions.
The South was devastated after the war. Confederate money was worthless, and what wasn't looted was burned including homes like the one at Magnolia. John Grimke-Drayton had to sell another plantation as well as some of the acreage of Magnolia to raise money. He also opened the gardens to the public to help keep the plantation going.
Magnolia Plantation has been owned by the Drayton family for over 300 years. That was made possible by the fact it was always willed to blood relatives, never to a spouse. It is still owned and operated by 5 members of the original family.
We enjoyed our time at Magnolia Plantation. It was a beautiful day to enjoy the gardens - warm sun and relatively cool air with low humidity. We loved learning about the rich, family history of Magnolia Plantation.
As is usually the case, we had scoped out places to eat after our sightseeing. We were both hungry for barbecue because we didn't do much smoking over the winter due to the fact we were so busy with our involvement in the co-op and with our projects for our new site. We chose Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ from the list of several barbecue joints with good online reviews Margery found nearby. Home Team BBQ has several locations in and around Charleston, and one of them was about 10 minutes from Magnolia Plantation.
Home Team BBQ has pulled pork, smoked chicken, brisket, smoked turkey, and ribs. Sandwiches range in price from $10 to $12 and include one side. Platters are $12.50 to $14 and include two sides. A full rack of ribs is $24.
We both had pulled pork platters with slaw and mac and cheese for our sides. The pulled pork wasn't very smokey, but it was nice and moist and tender. They have 6 different barbecue sauces. We both liked the sweet sauce because it provided a nice balance to the slaw, which was a little on the tart side. The mac and cheese was to die for! It was full of ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness. The portions were also very generous.
We headed back to the 5th wheel to relax for the rest of the day and all day Sunday. On Monday morning, we continued our journey north. We'll tell you about it in our next post.