Saturday, September 22, 2012

I 'Heart' Philip Simmons Garden

Decorative Letter Set Clip Art  here is a small garden 
in Charleston, South Carolina, named the Heart Garden. It is also known as the Philip Simmons Garden.


I didn't know anything about Philip Simmons (1912 - 2009) or this garden until my recent trip to Charleston for a family wedding when I saw a notation for it on a small tourist map of Charleston. Fortunately I was able to squeeze in a visit on the last day of my trip, just before driving to the airport.

I was happy that I did.

You may not find this one on a 'must see' garden list. It didn't pop up on any internet searches I did for local gardens and it is not well marked, if at all, on location at the unpretentious church. But when I googled Philip Simmons, I learned that this garden makes perfect sense. 
And, with the heart--and church--motif, it's also a perfect ending to a 
destination wedding trip!

In addition to parties and a tour of the Magnolia Plantation with the happy couple, I spent hours in the heat in previous days wandering this historic city, admiring the countless beautiful homes and gardens featuring side yards, tall brick walls and lots of wrought iron--on gates, window grills and balconies.
(Read more on previous post.)

But at the heart of this garden is a lovely tribute to the talented Mr. Simmons, 
a notable artisan and blacksmith, in the back yard of the church he attended, 
the St. John's Reformed Episcopal Church at 91 Anson Street.

In a career that spanned 77 years, starting at age 13 because he was so drawn to it, Mr. Simmons is said to have created some 500 wrought iron pieces in his lifetime in Charleston.  He was still alive when the garden was created and he designed the double-heart gate at the entrance (shown at the top of this blog post).  He has received several honors, books have been written about 'The Iron Man of Charleston' and his work is in the Smithsonian Institute.

  The garden itself is designed by another local artisan, Pearl Fryar, 
a self-taught topiary artist who is notable for his garden in Bishopville, South Carolina. I was also unaware of Mr. Fryar before seeing this garden, but now I have read up a little on him and I am looking forward to seeing the documentary film, A Man Named Pearl.

And lucky for me that their lives crossed paths here, in a garden,
where I had an opportunity to see their work, learn about them
and learn something special about the history of iron making in Charleston.

But more importantly, I learned about
two inspirational and talented American artists, one a blacksmith and the other a gardener, who both followed their hearts and spent their lives doing exactly what they loved to do. 

That is a great gift.

This is GardenEnvy.

All rights reserved 2012 by jayro.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Side Yard Garden Takes Front And Center In Historic Charleston

The Charleston garden: 
walled, lots of wrought iron, bricks 
and an abundance of luxuriant green plants.

 I want in.

Charleston, South Carolina is a historic city on the southeast coast of the United States that was established in the late 1600's. It has great looking architecture and a subtropical climate that plants love. The region sits low on the coast. Winters are mild but rainstorms and hurricanes can be severe.   

Slaves were sold here and the Civil War (1861 to 1865) started here.
Before the war, the wealthy owned rice plantations and the slaves
who did the work on those plantations. 
They built beautiful mansions and socialized in the city.
And the gardens are gorgeous.

What might strike you right away is that there is rarely a front yard here; 
it is all about the side yard in Charleston.

That's probably because most houses here are built in a rectangular shape with the entrance typically on the side of the house. If there is also a front door, it was likely added later.

A side yard in my neck of the woods is usually a gardening afterthought
or it is used as a storage area for supplies or trash bins.
But the side yard is to low country Charleston gardens like shrimp and grits are to its cuisine.

Essential, and so very elegant.

And while there are some famous gardens to visit in the area, 
such as Middleton Place, it seems like this whole city is one elaborate garden.

I could spend hours walking this city to see home after home, 
just to appreciate the garden style that is Charleston.

I love the frequent use of black accents on shutters, iron work and pots
to set off the green plants. In early summer the abundant crape myrtle trees
are in bloom and they impress me to no end.

And just when I think I've seen my favorite

I walk past another and fall in love.

And one of my all time favorites is the Calhoun Mansion garden
at 16 Meeting Street. I even love the sound of that address.

Another prominent feature of the Charleston garden is the window planter.

A mini Charleston garden

complete with wrought iron

and black accents

everywhere you look.

It's like icing on the cake.

Well, actually, on the house.

This is GardenEnvy.  

Copyright 2012 by jayro. All rights reserved.