Connie Cottingham is a master gardener, garden club member, landscape architect, and freelance writer.

After living in Little Rock, Northwest Arkansas and New Orleans, Connie now gardens in Zone 7b Athens, Georgia. Sign up to receive her weekly Love Notes from the Garden at conniecottingham.com.

 

 

Middleton Place
by Connie Cottingham - posted 06/05/12

 

This weekend I am reading up on the gardens I will soon be visiting in England. The adventure starts with a week in Sissinghurst, staying at the Priest's House on the grounds. We can actually wake up in the morning, pad over to the window, and look out onto the famous White Garden. We can wander Sissinghust’s gardens before and after hours. While the tourists are in Sissinghurst we will take day trips to charming villages and other nearby gardens.

 

But you can have a similar experience by only crossing one state line, not a whole ocean. In March 2011 I attended a retreat at the Inn at Middleton Place. Each room offers a view of the river. Stroll down a path through the trees and enjoy a delicious breakfast outdoors or in a dining room with a woodland view. Middleton Placeis one of the most famous gardens in the world, featured in landscape history courses and advertised as ‘America’s oldest landscaped gardens.’ It has been under the same family stewardship for over 300 years. One resident was President of the First Continental Congress, another a signer of the Declaration of Independence,The live oaks and camellias are ancient by our standards and the gardens and statuary are wonderful. It is where the first Camellia japonicas were probably introduced by André Michaux in 1786 and probably one of the places John and William Bartram visited (when they weren't back in Philly chatting with Ben Franklin.) Middleton Place is also stunningly beautiful and peaceful.

 

Back to my visit. On Sunday morning I jumped out of bed, grabbed a camera, jacket and notebook and wandered the gardens at Middleton Place for a few hours, having the entire garden to myself. The birds were waking up. It was an incredibly peaceful, inspiring morning. These photos are from that early March morning. I would think it would be as memorable an experience to visit the garden at twilight in summer, or during an early summer morning. Oh, and visiting other historic gardens and charming villages? The Inn at Middleton Place is about 15 miles from Charleston and just down the road from Magnolia Plantation and Drayton Hall, both well worth visiting. And don't forget the many botanical gardens within your own state, day trips from where you live. 

 

 

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