A small slice of Charleston history will be on display this summer in the nation's capital. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens has been selected for a special summer exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.
Displays modeling 30 gardens from across the country will be designed and installed at the site, which neighbors the U.S. Capitol Building.
For Magnolia's display, which will be curated by Arlington, Va.-based designer Jeff Minnich, a small-scale version of its Long White Bridge will be built over a blackwater pond. Some local wildlife will be on view, too, in the form of metal herons and a metal alligator.
The displays will be on view outside the Botanic Garden from May to October and will coordinate with the American Public Garden Association's annual conference in June. The conference theme, "Thrive Together: Diversity Grows Gardens," also informed the display selections, including Magnolia, said Botanic Garden spokesman Devin Dotson.
“To be honored by one of the nation’s most prestigious gardens is truly a plus for Charleston, the state of South Carolina and the Drayton family that has been stewards of this land for more than 300 years," said Magnolia's executive director Tom Johnson.
The Drayton family established Magnolia Plantation along the Ashley River in 1676, and early development of the gardens started soon after. But the gardens weren't expanded on a grand scale — they now span about 40 acres — until the 19th century.
Magnolia is the only remaining large-scale Romantic-style garden in the United States. The style is marked by informal pathways and a cooperation with, rather than control of, the natural environment.
It is also the first private garden to be open to the public. The Drayton family started admitting visitors to the property shortly after the Civil War.