Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Magnolia Plantation

September is not the best time to visit a magnolia plantation. 

But I was so glad we did.

The main flowering period for these plants is Spring or early Summer but since this was part of our holiday trek, and our only chance to visit, we went anyway. 
Just look at the size of the Magnolia grandiflora shown above. 

A bit of imagination was needed to visualise how the whole place would look in full bloom - and that would be stunning, given the size and age of the trees.

A plantation in the original sense of the word there were reminders of slave occupation everywhere.

But there were also plenty of lovely landscape views and sights, with Spanish moss romantically draped everywhere.

Bridges across swampland were not just functional

but beautifully constructed with an artist's eye for the surroundings and strong visual impact.

Not all pretty and peaceful though as in part of the grounds lurked water snakes and alligators in addition to the usual voracious mosquitoes. 

Must have been a tough place to live and work.

Some of the original barrels can still be seen, standing by the wharf waiting to be loaded with cotton and shipped down river to Charleston.

Since I have an inherent dislike of anything that slithers, or bites, I was so glad to get back to the boat in one piece! 

Apart from the bits the bitey things had.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Salem Massachusetts

This was another of our East Coast stopovers.

A delightful town but with an overly heavy emphasis for me on the 1692 Witches trials. 
There's more to Salem than this as it has a wonderful historical and sea faring past which seems to have been sidelined.

The town itself is pretty and compact and thanks to the help of the two lovely ladies of the Tourist board I managed to find two very different but gorgeous gardens to visit.

The first was Ropes Mansion garden.

How elegant does this 1727 building look?

Fronting the street with the garden primarily to the right and rear, the house was sadly closed when we visited (it is now a museum) but it was possible to get into the garden via a pergola to the right hand side. 

A classical formal layout greeted us with plenty of plant interest, some I had never seen before and still cannot identify.


Anyone any ideas?

But the real show stopper of the visit was the garden at the House of the Seven Gables.


Can you imagine sitting outside on a lovely summer's day with the backdrop of the whole of Salem harbour at your feet?

And what a joy to garden there. 

The kind of place you would choose to be for all eternity (provided tea and cake or a glass of good wine was thrown in too).

Loved the metal garden furniture which was thoughtfully placed around the garden so you could sit and just look - and I did.

These chairs and tables have a strong French influence but others, shown below, date from the late 1600's and were specially commissioned by the then owners.

Don't go expecting to see rare plants or horticultural supremacy but do go for the sheer delight of the vista and how the garden's traditional layout exudes charm and timelessness.

And the gardeners are happy to chat too! Well done them.

Definitely a place to visit........or re-visit.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Charleston South Carolina

Charleston is beautiful.

 Elegant buildings everywhere, some originally dating from the 18th Century and luckily spared from the devastation of the American Civil War.

Others more modern but with a sense of belonging.

Love the wrought iron work which is so in keeping with this Southern heritage.

Charleston oozes charm, character and history. 
I loved it.

Shame it rained (a lot) when I visited and the humidity was a real shock.

No wonder I had visions of mint juleps - a la Gone with the Wind, until I discovered the main ingredient is bourbon - Yuk!!

But the tiny town gardens made up for my disappointment and were truly  delightful. 

And I love snickets, alleys or ginnels depending on your origins. 
They just beg to be explored.

How romantic and mysterious do these look?

Take a walk down these back in time to long frocks and good old Southern ways.

So atmospheric. 

Or maybe I just got carried away?