Arts & Culture, Discovery, Featured

Spring Blooms in Charleston

When the sun begins to cast warm rays on the city’s historic buildings and backyard gardens blossom vibrant splashes of color, you know spring is finally here. Charleston is known for its quiet and charming secret gardens, Palmetto trees and local flowers sprinkled throughout the city. While the Holy City has a long list of reasons for travelers to explore, spring brings a variety of floral delights; the most breathtaking regional flowers including Azaleas, Wisteria, Tea Olive, Magnolia Trees and Camellias.
Wherever you turn in Charleston, you will surely see Azaleas blooming in hues of pronounced pinks, brilliant reds and warm purples, adding sweet, rich pigment to secret gardens and public parks. Azaleas, also called “the royalty of the garden,” are from the rhododendron family and one of the most sought-after shrubs locally, producing brilliant full color.
While its arrival is shortlived, Wisteria, a wispy, willowing vine that climbs and wraps around historic stone buildings and arching iron gates, welcomes visitors with it’s pretty purple color and slightly sweet scent. The curious vines of a wisteria can reach as high as 65 feet above the ground and spread out 32 feet wide.
The fragrant Tea Olive’s dark glossy, green leaves and dense foliage can be discovered all throughout Charleston in the form of well-manicured hedges providing shade and privacy. These sweet shrubs bloom tiny but amazingly fragrant, creamy white flowers which give gardens a crisp and fresh aesthetic.
Jasmine, an evergreen that climbs walls, posts, arbors and more, signals the start of warmer weather ahead. It’s rich, intoxicating scent envelopes the city each spring, a true favorite of locals and visitors alike.
You can also find beautifully strong and tall Saucer Magnolia Trees blooming light pink flowers. Part of the Magnolia family, these can grow as tall as 80 feet at full maturity. Often selected for their joyful robust tulip-looking blooms, the tree also provides cool shade for Charlestonians on warm spring days.
Camellias, another Southern favorite, come in many different shapes and sizes, yielding hues of red with colors ranging from stark white to rich pink ombré. These gorgeous trees, growing up to 65 feet tall, can be seen at Middleton Place, which is home to the oldest Camellias in North America. Charleston Place is currently offering an exclusive, behind-the-scenes experience at Middleton Place, home of the oldest formal gardens in America.

Floral insights were provided by Bloom at Charleston Place. Utilizing local product as much as possible, Bloom provides stunning floral arrangements for weddings and events, creating some of the most breathtaking arrangements inspired by the city of Charleston itself.

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Discovery, Featured

Anchored in History

Set off on an educational excursion and step back in time. As you cruise up the winding Ashley River, Charleston’s Lowcountry beauty is on full display. Your destination? The 300-year-old Middleton Place, home of the oldest landscaped gardens in North America.                  You may have already fallen in love with Charleston’s coastal appeal. A peninsula surrounded by water, glimpses of its blue shimmer peak out behind historic mansions and cobblestone streets. But beyond historic downtown, Charleston’s living history comes alive in an even more impactful way. Slip away for an insightful cruise with Coastal Expeditions and Master Captain Chris Crolley, one of the state’s most knowledgeable naturalists. As you pass the site of the first settlement dating back to 1670, Charles Towne Landing, you’ll be regaled with tales of those first settlers and the Kiawah and Wando tribes, who called the Lowcountry home. As you traverse up the Ashley River into more peaceful waters past notable sites like Drayton Hall and Magnolia Plantation, feel the ocean spray, smell the rich scent of pluff mud and be amazed as dolphins and pelicans glide past. As Middleton Place slowly comes into view, you’ll be reminded of how life once was, when visitors arrived via the waterways 200 years ago. Established in 1741, the plantation was the primary residence of several generations of the Middleton family, many of whom played prominent roles in the colonial and antebellum history of South Carolina along with the enslaved West Africans who lived and worked tirelessly to sustain the thriving plantation. Now a National Historic Landmark, the grounds are used as a museum to tell the complete history of the early Colonial period through the Revolution, the early Republic, the Civil War era and beyond. Surrounded by water on a tiny split of land, you’ll pull up onto the historic field dike, still preserved, as wild flowers and sea reeds blow in the distance. Birds fly over head and alligators can be seen swimming and sunning themselves on the adjacent bank. As you round the corner and traverse the grass path toward the main house, you’ll notice rolling terraces and buildings dating back to the 19th century. Escorted by Middleton Place’s expert Historian, a carriage ride will take you past the Cypress Lake and live oaks covered in Spanish moss, as you learn more about the upkeep – then and now – of these storied grounds. Next, you’ll be guided through the house museum, which contains original furniture before going “beyond the fields” to learn about the personal histories of the enslaved people. As you explore the working stableyard and barnyard, you’ll get a glimpse of the tools, pottery and clothing made by the skilled enslaved artisans. They also tended to an array of livestock and you’ll see that numerous animals still call Middleton Place home, including horses, sheep and water buffalo. After, get lost in thought among the allées in the formal gardens, considered to be the oldest in the country, where camellias date back to 1787 including the first four camellias brought to North America. The gardens are also home to the oldest tea olive and crepe myrtle trees in the country. Past the Butterfly Lakes, you’ll discover the most notable feature of the gardens, the Middleton Oak, a massive Southern live oak tree with a trunk diameter of 35 feet, generally thought to be amongst the oldest in the Southern United States. As you reflect on your day, discuss all that you learned as you savor a farm to table lunch with vegetables grown at the on-site organic farm before departing for downtown Charleston and your home away from home. An essential American experience, Anchored in History is exclusively available for guests of Charleston Place, A Belmond Hotel. For more information or to book this incomparable experience, contact us at 843-722-4900.
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Featured, Sip & Savor

Easter Supper with The Grill

With Easter Sunday just around the corner, there’s no better time to dust off your serving ware and celebrate spring’s arrival. Michelle Weaver, Executive Chef of the award-winning Charleston Grill, knows just how to bring people around the table for a feast they won’t soon forget.  Before the big day, Chef Michelle recommends that you spend some time in nature, foraging for your centerpiece. “Be inspired by nature and keep it simple. Look to see what’s growing in your yard or what’s available at your local store or farmer’s market. I always love daffodils, tulips, and iris this time of year, and that’s often what you’ll see when I set the table.” While Chef Michelle spends her time cooking for our guests, on her days off, chances are you’ll still find her in the kitchen, though she “recommends that you prep as much as you can the day before so that you can enjoy your guests. For example, I will hard boil the eggs for my deviled eggs so that’s one less thing to worry about day-of.” When it comes to the main event, says Chef, “growing up, we were team ham all the way. Lamb was too expensive and cosmopolitan. I did grow up on a farm in Alabama! Instead, we focused on what we had available to us. We always had a relish tray and deviled eggs. A big baked ham, potato salad, green beans (usually my mom’s put-ups from the summer) and big fat buttery yeast rolls. There might be a few other sides, and casseroles brought by friends and family. Dessert was another feast, banana pudding, coconut cake, lemon icebox pie. We always had a full table, full hearts and full stomachs after Easter brunch.” Ready to try your hand at Chef Michelle’s Capered Deviled Eggs? Visit the link to make these at home. Then, plan to join us for a true taste of Southern soul with cosmopolitan flair at the Charleston Grill.
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