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An Insider’s Guide to Charleston Gardens: Revel in the spring season at six of the Lowcountry’s best public gardens

An Insider’s Guide to Charleston Gardens: Revel in the spring season at six of the Lowcountry’s best public gardens
April 2024

Get the scoop on the latest plantings, programs, and special events

(Clockwise from top left) Middleton Place; Colonial Lake; Magnolia Plantation & Gardens; Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens; Cypress Gardens & Hampton Park.

Looking for a perfect spring-day destination? We’ve rounded up six of the area’s top public gardens, checking in with their pros to get the scoop on the latest plantings and programs. (Expect some surprises!) Read on for all you’ll need to know to revel in the season in our extraordinary green spaces.

Middleton Place

From March into April, more than 100,000 azaleas blaze throughout the formal landscaped gardens of this National Historic Landmark. Presiding over an expanse of the Ashley River, these 65 acres stay as loyal as possible to their pre-Revolutionary War beginnings, and thanks to the devotion of one horticulturist, that will soon be more true than ever. >>LEARN MORE ABOUT MIDDLETON PLACE

Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

One of the nation’s oldest public gardens, Magnolia is renowned for its collection of azaleas, the Lowcountry’s starring flower come springtime. This year’s display may be especially spectacular, as the property’s in the midst of a glow-up: $125,000 worth of pruning and tree removal is allowing in more light and boosting all kinds of blooms as part of a major effort to elevate the historic attraction. >>LEARN MORE ABOUT MAGNOLIA PLANTATION & GARDENS

Colonial Lake

In 2016, the Charleston Parks Conservancy (CPC) partnered with the city to complete a $5.9-million renovation of this historical public space that showcases a tidal pond. The former lawn-and-trees park emerged as a massive garden echoing the naturalistic, slightly wild style of New York City’s High Line. These days, it’s not spring without a stroll among the ‘Peggy Martin’ roses that spiral up the sentinel palmetto palms, and this season’s park-goers may notice that some more changes are underway. >>LEARN MORE ABOUT COLONIAL LAKE

Hampton Park

Spanning more than 60 acres of the Upper Peninsula, storied Hampton Park is a dream recreation spot for bloom-seekers. City of Charleston horticulturists keep the promenade around the pond filled with flowering trees, shrubs, and perennials that they infuse with thousands of vibrant annuals each season. Miles of pathways curve through the park’s more natural and wild eastern side, and bike and pedestrian lanes trace a centuries-old horse-racing track around this massive garden. >>LEARN MORE ABOUT HAMPTON PARK

Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens

This former plantation—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—features a formal garden revived some 30 years ago by famed rosarian Ruth Knopf. Shaped like a pair of butterfly wings, the ever-blooming landscape is one of the best places to admire antique rose varieties, including rambling climbers from the Noisette class, born right here in Charleston. Now, new sweeps of native plants and a monarch waystation are enhancing pollinator activity, while the Gullah Heritage Vegetable Garden helps interpret the past. >>LEARN MORE ABOUT BOONE HALL PLANTATION & GARDENS

Cypress Gardens

Nearly a century ago, one couple planted an overgrown cypress preserve with thousands of flowering species—azaleas, camellias, magnolias, and more—and opened it to the public. Today, Cypress Gardens invites visitors on a ramble through a swamp forest in bloom, complete with rowboat rides in its alluring black waters. >>LEARN MORE ABOUT CYPRESS GARDENS



Photographs by courtesy of Middleton Place Foundation; Adrianna Davis; Jim Martin; courtesy of Magnolia Plantation; Piper Monk; Doubletree Studio; David Avrutick; Tienuskin; courtesy of Kellen Goodell, Charleston Parks Conservancy; Wikimedia Commons; Cvandyke; Melinda Smith Monk; courtesy of; City of Charleston Parks Department; Jim Martin; Katie Dickson; courtesy of Boone Hall Plantation; Al Monroe; Joseph Creamer; The Blaze, LLC; courtesy of Cypress Gardens & (vintage postcard) from A private collection