Garden lovers and school children will flock to Magnolia

May 7, 2012

CHARLESTON, SC – May 3, 2012 – Several hundred garden lovers and school children are expected to visit Magnolia Plantation and Gardens on Friday, May 11, as part of the fourth annual National Public Gardens Day.    

The American Public Gardens Association has designated that day as a special time to raise awareness nationwide to the important role public gardens play in promoting environmental stewardship and plant and water conservation.

The association’s membership includes some of the nation’s most prestigious gardens, such as the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University and Callaway Gardens at Pine Mountain, Ga.   

Magnolia, the oldest garden in the United States, is a member of the association and the only garden in South Carolina participating in the observance.    

Tom Johnson, Magnolia’s director of gardens, said, “This is the second year that Magnolia has participated. Being among some of the nation’s best gardens that open their doors to allow Americans to experience a public garden comes at a special time for Magnolia.    

“Recently, we were selected as a Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society. This international award coincides with an expanded summer garden for our guests.    

“The educational programs we are offering have been designed to match the standards being taught in social studies and science,” Johnson said. “This is our contribution to education at a time when the demands on teachers and budget cuts force educators to look for other ways to enhance the educational experience for our students.    

“Incidentally, our education program is not limited to the United States,” Johnson added. “For the third consecutive summer, two French garden-design students will intern at Magnolia and, for the first time this summer, we’ll have a horticulture student from Barbados.”    

The free educational program for school children will include demonstrations with small animals, guided tours that discuss the role African Americans played at Magnolia and a discussion about plants that are native to Lowcountry South Carolina.     Students, teachers and chaperons from James Simons and Sanders-Clyde Elementary schools, Charleston Development Academy and Midland Park Primary School have been invited to participate in the four-hour field day, starting at 9:30 a.m.    

To enhance the education program, Magnolia has invited other groups and companies to set up booths during the field day. They are:

  • Keeper of the Wild
  • Keepers of the Word
  • South Carolina Caribbean Cultural and Heritage Association
  • Clemson Master Gardeners
  • First Federal Savings and Loan
  • Independent Company of South Carolina, a French and Indian War reenactment group
  • 54th Massachusetts, Co. I, Civil War Reenactment Regiment
  • Nature in Motion
  • Falconry demonstration
  • Outdoor cooking demonstration by Heather Welch, Magnolia’s foodways historian
  • Small animal display by Chris Smith, director of Magnolia’s Nature Center and Petting Zoo

For more information about National Public Gardens Day, visit