Live Oak Allee
Edward Field Sanford, Jr. (1886-1951)
EvAngelow William Frudakis (born 1921)
Gift of Dr. Pierre Rioux
Stephen H. Smith (born 1958)
Bronze on granite base, 2007
Tiny Tree Frog
Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Ralph and I drove down to South Carolina to visit Brookgreen Gardens today. Brookgreen is the legacy of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. It was originally a rice plantation but was bought in the early twentieth century by the Huntingtons. They turned it into a sculpture garden which their web site describes as having “the most extensive collection of figurative sculpture in an outdoor setting by American artists in the world.”
The old plantation house is gone but the grounds contain an extensive garden with sculpture throughout — some large, some small, some whimsical, and some classical. There is a pavilion with sculpture covered and protected a bit from the elements as well as a pair of indoor exhibits (which are also air conditioned!). There is a wonderful allee (a walkway lined with trees) featuring old live oaks (Quercus virginiana) pictured here and many and varying garden “rooms.”
I can’t possibly show you everything, or even everything I photographed so I’ll limit myself to a brief selection. One of my favorite sculptures is simply called “Dancer” and is a bronze by Edward Field Sanford, Jr. (1886-1951) from 1917. This is in the Brown Sculpture Court so photographing it is a bit more difficult (lower light). As someone or other said (and I have no idea who said it first), “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” This is one that I like. There are actually quite a few at Brookgreen that I like.
Let me pause here to interject an interesting fact about the Huntingtons. They shared a birthday, March 10, with Archer being born in 1870 and Anna in 1876. Then, they got married on March 10, 1923. From then on, March 10 was known by them at their “three-in-one-day.”
Another work that I like (and this one happens to be in the Brown Sculpture Court, as well, is called “Reaching” by EvAngelow William Frudakis (born 1921). This bronze from 1996 was a gift to Brookgreen from Dr. Pierre Rioux.
The first time we came to Brookgreen, Cathy took a picture of this sculpture and there was a water lily on the surface of the pool. She lined it up perfectly so that her picture made it look like the woman was reaching for the lily. I had no such fortune this year. Still, one that I like.
In addition to the sculpture there are plaques with short poems carved on them. Reading one of them made me sort of chuckle to myself and as I write this on a public blog, I continue to chuckle. Here’s a slightly modified version, with apologies to Emily Dickinson:
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — Don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
And brag about your blog!*
Cathy asked me if the garden had changed any since last time. There were a few things that have changed since we first came ten years ago. I didn’t recognize this sculpture, called “The Diver” by Stephen H. Smith (born 1958). Since it was new in 2007 (the gift of John Sanders in honor of Ann Beal Sanders) I guess that explains it.
There is also a walk now out to the creek that runs behind the gardens. The creek is actually a branch of the Pee Dee River. Our favorite thing about that was the signs that said, “Swimming and wading are prohibited. It is illegal to feed the alligators.” Enough said.
There is small wildlife throughout the garden. We saw a snake (a little black snake lying on top of a trimmed shrub), lizards, lots of huge grasshoppers, birds, and I saw this tiny green tree frog on a leaf. It’s only about an inch long.
In addition to the gardens there is a Low Country Center (which we skipped this time) and a small zoo which has, among other things, a cypress swamp aviary. That’s where I took the photo here of a black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). There are also ibises and a few other birds. We saw otters and alligators, as well as a few owls and hawks and two bald eagles.
It was quite warm but all in all, I’d say I had a enjoyable time at Brookgreen. I’d come again (and plan to).
* The original last line is, “To an admiring bog!”