Middleton Place

Middleton Place, Charleston, South Carolina

After seeing Middleton Place in so many landscape design and history books, in 2011 I attended a 2 day retreat in the Inn at Middleton Place, the LEED certified hotel on the grounds. I highly recommend staying in this hotel if you are interested in visiting Middleton Place (as well as Magnolia Plantation and Drayton Hall, right down the road and worth visiting.). A quick stroll down a path through the woods, beside water, then beside the gardens brought us to the restaurant.

I woke up Sunday morning at 6 am, gathered my camera and notebook and excitedly ran to the garden as soon as it was light enough to see. Guests at the hotel have access to the gardens when it is closed to the public. I had the garden to myself for hours that early March morning, playing with my camera, listening to the birds, and strolling among the sculptures and blooms as if it were my own private garden. It was a magical morning. Spring was just breaking, but many of their famous camellias were in bloom, as well as spring bulbs.

Middleton Place is one of the most famous gardens in the world, featured in landscape history courses and advertised as ‘America’s oldest landscaped gardens.’ It has been under the same family stewardship for over 300 years. One resident was President of the First Continental Congress, another a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The live oaks and camellias are ancient by our standards and the gardens and statuary are wonderful. It is where the first Camellia japonicas were probably introduced by André Michaux in 1786 and was probably one of the places John and William Bartram visited (when they weren’t back in Philly chatting with their buddy Ben Franklin.) Middleton Place is also stunningly beautiful and peaceful.