Magnolia Plantation and Gardens – Charleston, South Carolina
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Originally granted to Morris Matthews during the Colonial period, the property was acquired by Thomas and Ann Drayton in 1679. The Draytons built a small home on the property and quickly established a successful rice plantation, cultivating what would come to be known as Carolina Gold Rice.
The home pictured above is actually the third to be built on the property. The original home was destroyed by an accidental fire, while the second was burned to the ground during the Civil War. There is some debate as to whether the home was destroyed by Union troops or freed slaves. The current structure, which originally served as the summer cottage of Reverend John Grimke Drayton, was built in nearby Summerville prior to the Revolutionary War. Rev. Drayton had the cottage disassembled and floated down the Ashley River to the plantation, where he then had it rebuilt on the original foundation in 1873.
While known for their sprawling beauty, Magnolia’s gardens originated from a much smaller, formal design. Thomas and Ann Drayton added the original garden, which they would later name Flowerdale, shortly after the completion of their home in the mid 1680s. Marked by formal arrangements of annuals such as lillies, tulips, and irises enclosed by boxwood hedges, Flowerdale is widely considered to be the oldest flower garden in America.
The gardens did not begin to take their current form until the 1840s, when Reverend John Grimke Drayton inherited the plantation. Rev. Drayton began to expand Flowerdale in an English style, focusing on the natural beauty of the landscape and adding many of the camellias and azaleas seen today.
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