Yellow Flowers by Black Creek

November 10th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

The uxorial unit led the trip to South Carolina. She comforted a recently widowed girlfriend from college days, enjoyed a couple of days with the godmother of one of our sons, and had several days with her elder second cousin. I arrived two days before we drove furniture from her late parents’ house back to Boston.

There were the clichéd and expected, plus a colorful flora surprise.

Thick accents and thicker grits were parts, as were tall biscuits (White Lily flour certainly). Thigh-high cotton fields in full fluff lined the roads. Every town had at least one Piggly Wiggly. Nobody cut off another driver or honked at anyone slow off the traffic light. In fact, slow was just fine. People held doors for each other and said, “Ma’am” and “Sir” without irony or sarcasm.


A nice extra was only a quarter of a mile from her cousin’s house in Hartsville. Kalmia Gardens is a combination arboretum with labeled plants and a formal Southern garden and a boardwalk beside the cypress swamp that is Black Creek.

As so many Southern splendors, this is a rich woman playing with her money for visionary pursuits on a local level. In this case, it was not to name it after herself or her husband nor to restrict it. She gave the resulting property to Coker College, which was named for her wealthy family. She fixed up the neglected, trash heap of land (rather paid people to do that), designed the walks, plantings and more.

It has been open and free to the public since 1935.

Coming down from Boston after our slush fest on top of our usual brown fall, I was pleased to see so many plants still in bloom. Amusingly, the specimen sugar maple has yet to turn color, while ours are long defoliated. My snaps from the walk around are here.

My wife’s cousin has not been down to Black Creek, although she did host an engagement dinner on the grounds above. It is 94 steps down to the uneven boardwalk…and 94 steps back up, unless you lie down and die. We thought it was worth the stairs.


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