‘Located on the Ashley River in South Carolina, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is one of the oldest surviving in the Southern United States…’

The Magnolia Plantation dates back to 1676 and was reconstructed after being damaged in the American Civil War.  Thomas and Ann Drayton built a house and garden on site in 1676 and their family still controls the estate.

Originally, Magnolia was used as a rice plantation, with slaves brought in from Africa to work.  The language, ‘Gullah’, comes from the mixture of their original African tongues, with a bit of American-English thrown in. The language is very much still alive in this part of the US.

Magnolia Gardens

Present Day Magnolia

The Magnolia Plantation and Mansion House is now a tourist attraction.  Some elements of the estate have been restored, including the plantation house, which was torched during the Civil War.

Aside from the glorious mansion house, there are many other attractions within the estate’s boundaries. These include the plantation gardens; camellia collection, wildlife refuge, and a fabulous wooden tower that provides views out across the river.  There’s also a tropical garden, biblical garden, and a maze, amongst others.  There’s also the outdoor Peacock Café where you can enjoy snack under the shade of gorgeous live oaks.

The perfect spot for enjoying a mint julep on a sunny day

We wandered around the grounds in the baking South Carolina heat. The colours from the flowers, the lovely little bridges across the water, and the live oaks were fabulous.  Magnolia is so spacious and peaceful that it sometimes slips your mind that its history really isn’t appealing.

Magnolia has the oldest public gardens in the US and has also been named as one of America’s most beautiful.  Given the sheer size of the country, that’s not a bad shout.  I haven’t been to all the other gardens in America, so I can’t really comment.  It is gorgeous, though.

bridge over not so troubled waters
such a pretty setting

Trains and Tours

Apart from wandering around the gardens enjoying the views, you can pay an additional fee for the Slavery to Freedom Tour.  A shuttle bus will take you to the slave huts where you can learn more about the history of Magnolia Plantation. There’s also a movie showing the history of African-American culture here.

The Nature Train will, if you’re lazy or short on time, whizz you around the gardens in double quick time.  There’s also a Rice Field Boat Tour on the Ashley River if you want to spend time panicking about the size of the local gators.  In addition, you can tour the mansion house and swan around pretending you’re Scarlett O’Hara.  That’s what I did, anyway.

Although these attractions have additional charges to the basic plantation fee, entry to the Zoo is free.  Therefore, it would be rude not to say hello to the animals.  You can also feed and pet them.  I love a good cuddle with anything that’s cute and doesn’t like the taste of human flesh, so I was in Heaven.

Magnolia’s entry fee is $15 for adults. Even without the extra tours, there’s plenty here to keep you occupied.

Have you visited Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC?


Suzanne x