Archive for the ‘The City’ Category.

Springtime in Charleston

Spring means a bevy of blooms around Charleston.

Right about the time that Mother Nature ushers in warm weather, Charleston comes alive with fragrant seasonal blooms. Delicate notes of Carolina jessamine, honeysuckle and Lady Banks’ rose mingle with briny Atlantic Ocean breezes. Meanwhile, a pastel palette of azalea, camellia, star magnolia and quince blooms reveal themselves.

The advent of spring also means blooming hydrangeas in glorious shades of pink, blue, purple and other hues. At certain times of the year, the flowering plant is ubiquitous. Travelers may glimpse them growing in the wild around the Lowcountry and in formal gardens both private and public.

“Our hydrangeas are not in bloom until June,” says Herb Frazier, a horticulturist at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, which first opened to visitors in the early 1870s and has since been dubbed the oldest public gardens in America. “Once they bloom, they’re beautiful.”

All told, spring in the Lowcountry — with average temperatures hovering between 70 and 80 degrees — is pleasant and picturesque. It’s the perfect setting for festivals and special events, including garden tours.

Around Charleston, gardens that are open to the public include Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation, the Nathaniel Russell House and the Hampton Plantation State Historic Site. Mepkin Abbey and Gardens and Cypress Gardens help round out the list.

And each year, visitors are invited to peek behind the garden gates and piazza doors of private residences during Historic Charleston Foundation’s Festival of Houses and Gardens, held annually in March and April. Comprised of 13 different tours, trained docents shed light on the furniture collections, artwork, heirloom silver and curios contained in each home — not to mention the gardens.

 

Architectural Details Add Charm To Charleston

Even the smallest of architectural details belie Charleston’s vast history.

The beautiful and charming streets of Charleston beckon visitors to take a stroll through history. While notable buildings and churches are must-sees during a walking tour, there are even more subtle details that are fun and interesting to note. Don’t blink or you might miss it.
Earthquake Bolts. On August 31, 1886, an earthquake measuring between magnitude 6.9 and 7.3 devastated the peninsula and surrounding area. As a result, over 90 percent of the structures in town suffered damage. To repair those buildings that were salvageable, earthquake bolts were inserted into them to “pull” the structure back together. This is a great way to spot pre- and post-1886 construction.

Shutter Holdbacks. Usually made of forged steel, the best of Charleston’s historic homes boast antique  holdbacks for their shutters. Found in the simplest of  styles to the most intricate of designs, holdbacks serve a specific purpose in a beautiful way.

Boot Scrapers. These are iron U-shaped tools placed in front of entrances or at the bottom of stoops. Back when horses were the main mode of transportation and streets weren’t paved, Charlestonians would scrape subsequent mud and manure off their shoes before entering homes.

Old Town Line. While walking south toward Battery Park, visitors will find where the paved road meets brick streets. This is where the oldest structures of Charleston lie.

Charleston Single House Architecture. Before air  conditioning brought respite from the semitropical  heat of Charleston, homes were built to make the most out of the peninsula’s ocean breezes. As a result, most of these historical homes face south/southwest and are constructed one room wide and two rooms deep. These are the original “energy-efficient” homes.