Monday, July 18, 2011

Calhoun Mansion Garden Is A Gem

           The garden at The Calhoun Mansion was a happy discovery for me on my recent trip to Charleston.  A gem. I felt like a kid stumbling into a secret garden I never expected to find that day in June.  For me, that's always the best kind of garden to visit.

 My photograph hardly does justice to this Victorian mansion, which was built between 1870 and 1876 and named after Vice President John Calhoun.  This is an artist's rendering:

          I was touring The Battery, as it is known in Charleston, and admiring all the Southern style mansions with fabulous piazzas (aka, balconies).  So, I was awestruck when I wandered into this gated property at 16 Meeting Street and to the right of the entrance I see this calling me over:

          Wow. What's this? Where am I? My heart started to beat faster and I felt a sudden bolt of energy despite the long walk in the neighborhood in heat of the day. I was instantly intrigued.

I'm a pushover for clipped boxwood, topiary and statuary. The green boxwoods and trees against the clean, white piazzas is striking. From here the garden beckons toward the piazzas on the side of the mansion, and into another garden room.

Here, the water features take over. First, the small water lily pond then a small pool, which does have a cooling effect on this warm Charleston day.

More clipped hedges, lots of trees including cypress and palms, a bench to sit down and to soak it all in and then, at the end of the yard, another room with a fountain surrounded by wisteria covered columns.

This is definitely the spot for photographs, with the columns and vine-covered arbors as perfect picture frames.

This garden is packed with plants, shrubs, trees, statuary, water features, brick pathways and somehow everything fits beautifully. The design is quite formal and it feels like a garden I might find at a European palace, perhaps in Italy or France.

Though not a royal palace this 35-room mansion was used as a luxury hotel after the first World War. Today it is a 'house museum' and I must confess, I actually didn't visit inside the mansion. This Southern gem of a garden, however, is a must see.


  1. Thanks for what you said about this the gardener one cuts them...i love it..F


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