Springtime is Prime Time at Brookgreen Gardens

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More than 14 million visitors flock to the Myrtle Beach area's to experience all four seasons. From the sunny summer days on the beach to the cool fall afternoons when the changing leaves blend in with the evergreens to form a colorful landscape.

But for all of Myrtle Beach's year-round beauty, there's no prettier place on the Grand Strand than Brookgreen Gardens, and no better time to visit than the spring. The 9,100-acre botanical sculpture garden is a beautiful any time of year, but the trees, bushes and flowers are in full bloom during the springtime.

Built on a former rice and indigo plantation in the Lowcountry section between Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island, Brookgreen Gardens offers a historic and charming stroll through the sculptures and gardens. Art and nature come together in perfect harmony as the budding landscape provides a picture-perfect backdrop for the more than 1,400 works of art by 350 of famous American sculptors.

The oldest and largest botanical garden on the East Coast, Brookgreen Gardens opened in 1931 and, like the plants on the property, has only blossomed over the years. Featuring new exhibits to go with the traditional classics, Brookgreen Gardens offers a unique opportunity for visitors to connect with art and nature, especially when the premises are blooming in spring.

Upon entering the property, guests are greeted by a towering statue of two stallions engaged in battle – a nice example of the many works you will see inside the garden gates. Popular exhibits include the Diana Garden, the Carolina Terrace Garden,, Kitchen Garden, the Palmetto Garden, the Fountain of the Muses Garden and the Live Oak Allee Garden, which features huge, twisting live oak trees draped with Spanish moss that date back before Revolutionary War.

The spring sees an explosion of perennials – Daffodils, Iris, Shasta Daisy, Orchid, Bloodroot, Trillium and Atamasco Lily – but it's not just the flowers that are blooming. Shrubs (Azaleas, Virginia Sweetspire, Rose and Florida Anise), trees (Dogwood, Cherry, Chinese Fringe Tree and Grandaddy Graybeard) and vines (Confederate Jasmine, Carolina Jessamine, Native Wisteria and Woodbine) are among the many colorful plants that paint a pretty picture throughout the gardens.

Brookgreen has scheduled several special spring programs in addition to the regular tours and displays. April marks the start of a weekly rice lecture series on Saturdays, the annual Plantacular Sale features two days dedicated to selling rare plants to the public (April 11-12), and a special Earth Day celebration (April 22). The Gullah Cultural Center and other educational programs hold daily programs.

Brookgreen also highlights the abundant wilderness inside the park – from dense woodlands to pristine wetlands. The Lowcountry Zoo highlights native animals, including alligators, otters and various birds of prey, and the Butterfly House presents a colorful collection of the rare winged creatures. The Wildlife Preserve hosts nature shows and an interactive petting farm where guests can visit the stables and pet and feed goats and horses.

Boat tours are available for a ride through the former rice fields and the surrounding tidal creeks and rivers, where you can see ancient cypress trees and alligators tanning on small islands. The Oaks Plantation Tour gives guests a rare look at pre-Civil War life, including the foundation of a former plantation home, family cemetery and slave quarters.

Brookgreen Gardens has more to see and do than anyone could possibly cover in a day, which is the best thing about this attraction. Admission is good for an entire week, so you can come back and finish what you started or do it all over again at no additional charge. Be sure to check out the gift shop and Mother Nature's Cafe. For more information, call 843-235-6000 or visit www.brookgreen.org.


(Posted: 3/30/15)