A National Historic Landmark, Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, is a relaxing setting where groups can see creativity in bloom. The 9,127-acre property includes a 250-acre botanical garden adorned with over 2,000 works of sculpture by 425 artists. It’s home to the largest and most significant collection of American figurative sculpture in the country.
Brookgreen Gardens was founded in 1931 by American sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband Archer Huntington. The institution also focuses on conserving the low country’s natural flora, fauna and Indigenous animals in the Lowcountry Zoo, and historic preservation through educational programming and art workshops.
“Brookgreen offers a relaxing, educational and peaceful setting to enjoy our sculptures, plants, history and animals,” said Anna Lovell, manager of weddings and private events at Brookgreen Gardens. “When visiting the Grand Strand, we provide a creative addition to visitors’ time at the beach.”
Lovell recommends groups spend at least three hours at the gardens, which would allow enough time to see the three main areas of the property: the sculpture gardens, the Lowcountry Center and the Lowcountry Zoo.
“If there’s time, the Huntington Sculpture Garden tour is a wonderful way to learn about the history of this spectacular institution,” Lovell said.
Guided tours take groups through the gardens while sharing Brookgreen’s history, the sculptures of Anna Hyatt Huntington and works from other sculptors. Other tour topics include horticulture and history.
Another group option is the Creek Excursion boat ride (available March through November). Groups board a 48-foot pontoon boat to explore the tidal creeks, surrounding land and significant history of the Colonial rice plantations that once made up Brookgreen Gardens.
“Groups love the attention they receive from our staff,” Lovell said. “Upon arrival, I will step on the bus and welcome the group and run through their itinerary. Also, a large group with a busy itinerary will have a host or hostess that stays with them the entirety of their visit to ensure schedules are kept.”
Brookgreen Gardens’ food and beverage department offers box lunches for groups that include a sandwich, chips, a fresh baked cookie and a bottle of water. Box lunches can be enjoyed in the picnic area or during a planned presentation at the Lowcountry Center. The on-site restaurant, Harvest, can take reservations for small groups.
“Brookgreen Gardens is a wonderful gem in the heart of the low country,” Lovell said. “We love seeing the faces of our guests when they first arrive and see the sculptures and gardens for the first time. We appreciate tour operators and planners including us in the busy itineraries for their groups and hope they return year after year.”
Earlier this year, Brookgreen Gardens announced its first capital campaign in 25 years, the “Campaign for the Next Generation.” The campaign will expand Brookgreen in four key areas — a new contemporary conservatory, new art facilities, expanded low country history exhibits and a new exhibit in the Lowcountry Zoo.
For more information call 843-235-6017 or go to brookgreen.org.
Main Image: The Fountain of the Muses by Carl Milles, Brookgreen Gardens; Credit: Brookgreen Gardens