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.