For the 79th year, private homes and gardens in Charleston will be open to visitors as part of The Garden Club of Charleston's annual Walking Tour of Private Houses & Gardens on Friday and Saturday.

If you go

What: The Garden Club of Charleston's annual Walking Tour of Private Houses & Gardens. There are at least six stops on each of the self-guided tours.

When: 1-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Refreshments will be served in one of the gardens from 2-5 p.m.

Cost: $45.

More info: 406-7626 or

The tour includes some of Charleston's finest houses and gardens in the Historic District decorated with flowers arranged by garden club members. Proceeds from this event benefit the club's ongoing projects, including its work maintaining the gardens at the Manigault House, the Heyward-Washington House, the Gateway Walk, the Healing Garden at the Medical University of South Carolina and more.

Two of the homes on the tour are particularly noteworthy:

65 King St.: For the first time, this renovated property is open for a public tour. Robert Chesnut Landscape Architect purchased the home, originally built in 1888, seven years ago and set to renovating the property. It includes a small pink stucco house set far back off the street, a rear garden and a garage. The renovation included removing the entire front of the left wing of the house and enlarging the footprint toward the street.

The private rear garden was transformed to include a small copper-roofed pavilion and central fountain/reflection pool. The property was then bordered with palmettos and tall Nellie Stevens evergreens for privacy.

Garden of the William Gibbes House: The William Gibbes House, built in 1772, sits on an acre in downtown Charleston and is surrounded by a private, historic garden. The late landscape architect Loutrel Briggs introduced most of the garden plan, planting and hardscape from 1927 to 1931. It was Briggs' first work in Charleston and he used the project to his advantage. It was featured in leading magazines of the time, including Town and Country and Country Life, as a way to advertise his work in Charleston.

Briggs divided the property into a series of rooms, using the back staircase of the house and the axis of the pre-Revolutionary rose garden on the east side of the house as two of his main vistas. The original hardscapes, trees and many of the original shrubs still remain in the garden. The owners have tried to be faithful to the original plant list, and the garden includes a number of traditional Charleston-area plants, including azaleas, camellias and live oaks.

Holly Fisher