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Southeast Reference Garden Spotlight – Brookgreen Gardens

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

Photo Courtesy of Brookgreen Gardens

Located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, Brookgreen Gardens has been a cultural center for its community since its founding in 1931 by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Brookgreen Gardens is one of the few institutions in the United States to earn accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, as well as being designated a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its mission is to cultivate a display garden and to collect, conserve, and exhibit plants and cultural materials of the South Carolina Lowcountry, as well as figurative sculpture by American artists, which is exhibited throughout the gardens. It also seeks to educate a diverse audience about sculpture, horticulture, and the ecology and history of the Lowcountry.

Conifer History

There are records of conifer cultivation dating back to the plantation era of Brookgreen, including a very large Calocedrus decurrens which would have been extremely exotic for that time period in the southeastern U.S.

The first organized conifer collection at Brookgreen Gardens was started in the 1960’s by then Director and Horticulturist Gurdon L. Tarbox. This collection was located in the current Arboretum, and featured plantings of Cedrus, Chamaecyparis, Cunninghamia, Juniperus, and Pinus. There are several specimens from this original collection that still exist, including a beautiful specimen of Pinus strobus that could have been planted as early as 1960, and a gorgeous 80’ plus specimen of Cunninghamia lanceolata believed to be planted in 1968.

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