Spring visitors seeking the quintessential Charleston experience are flocking to events highlighting the Holy City’s architectural, botanical and historical heritage. Among the oldest such events are the Garden Club of Charleston’s tours.
If you go
What: Garden Club of Charleston’s 78th annual Walking Tours of Private Houses and Gardens. Funds raised will be used to support ongoing club projects to benefit the community.When: 2-5 p.m. April 5 and 6Where: Downtown Charleston’s Historic DistrictCost: $45. Advance tickets available by mail ($2 handling) and on the web at www.thegardenclubofcharleston.org. Tickets also will be available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 4-6 at the Charleston Visitor Center, 375 Meeting St. downtown.More info: Patrons are asked not to wear spiked heels as they may damage the floors.
The 78th annual Walking Tours of Private Houses and Gardens will feature some of the Historic District’s most storied properties and invite views of plant-filled window boxes cultivated to create stunning imagery.
This year, properties on the tours mainly are South of Broad and on the eastern part of the peninsula, says Virginia Brush, the event’s co-chair. The club seeks to have houses in different neighborhoods highlighted each year.
Owners of more than 30 houses, gardens and window boxes are supporting public visits to their properties during the two-day fundraiser.
The Garden Club of Charleston, founded in 1922, conducts the annual tours, when the city is in full bloom, to raise funds for ongoing projects to beautify some of the city’s most visible gardens.
The funds raised are the club’s major source of income for maintaining gardens at the Joseph Manigault House, Heyward-Washington House, Gateway Walk, Healing Garden at the Medical University of South Carolina, Museum Courtyard Garden and the garden at the Historic Confederate Home, says Barbara Heddinger, its publicity chairwoman.
“The majority of people buying tickets are those coming into town,” says event co-chair Celia Hansult. “They are making the most of their trip to Charleston. It’s such a wonderful time to see everything in Charleston because everything is happening.”
Up to 500 people, including visitors from California, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, are expected to take the self-paced walking tours each day.
On each tour day, four houses decorated in ways that are interesting and reflect their ages will be seen, Brush says. Some of the club’s floral designers will create multiple arrangements at each of the houses, she says.
“Visitors get the history of the house and information on decorations and paintings,” Hansult says. “We like to have at least five docents and more if people are going upstairs. We try to let docents meet the home’s owners so that the owners can tell them about the house.”
In addition, five gardens, chosen for beauty, diversity and age, will be toured each day, Brush says. They were chosen for overall beauty, types of plants, sitting areas or unusual garden features, she says. Smaller scapes, 16 of the most interesting window boxes in the Historic District, also will be toured.
“In the gardens, we have three or four docents also,” Hansult says. “We like to have a Master Gardener.”
Hansult also says guests can start and stop touring at any property they wish, but probably will want to begin and end at the refreshment house.
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.
Visitors making the most of their spring trips to Charleston may spend time within the walls of private homes and gardens during the tours.×
Guests on the Garden Club of Charleston’s 78th Annual Walking Tours of Private Houses and Gardens will view rarely seen Holy City treasures.×
Virginia Brush (left) and Celia Hansult are the 2013 co-chairs of the Garden Club of Charleston’s house and garden tours.×
Visitors on the Garden Club of Charleston tours can learn the history of the private houses they visit and stories behind some of the furnishings.×
Docents and master gardeners will answer questions about the vegetation in Charleston’s private gardens during the tours.×