Charleston, South Carolina is a charming city that boasts pastel antebellum houses, cobblestone streets, and horse drawn carriages. But behind the beautiful facade there is a turbulent and tragic past. Charleston's Fort Sumter was where the first shots of the Civil War occurred.
North of Historic Charleston is the Magnolia Plantation. It was founded in 1676 by the Drayton family as a rice plantation and witnessed both the American Revolution and Civil War on its doorstep. It is the oldest public gardens in the United States. After the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished, the Draytons needed a source of income so they opened their gardens to the public. It is America's last large-scale romantic-style garden. While most of America's gardens are formal and seek to control nature, Magnolia cooperates with nature.
But beyond the gorgeous gardens is the story of one family who has been working this land from its beginnings till today. We decided to do the slave cabin tour but you could pick from a tour of the house, the gardens, or a boat tour. We viewed four slave cabins, one of which was occupied until 1992 by the descendants of slaves, several fought in WWII, but, because of the Jim Crow Laws, could not find a job after coming back to the United States. I was in shock when I viewed this reality. We also learned that descendants of the slaves were still taking care of the gardens. I think many people believe that slavery was a long time ago, but we are still seeing the direct repercussions of it today. It was an eyeopening experience and if you are ever in Charleston, I highly recommend you to go visit. If not for the gardens, at least of the history.
Another highlight of our trip to Charleston was Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve. About an hour outside of Charleston Botany Bay remains untouched and uncommercialised, you can't even take shells off the beach. The most incredible part of this area is what they call Boneyard. Along the shoreline there are hundreds of dead trees that have been worn by the sea and salty air, it is such and incredible sight! To get to Botany Bay it is a little off the beaten path and you have to walk about 1/2 mile to get to the untouched beach but it is totally worth it!