Huntington Beach, Brookgreen Gardens and the Atalaya

29 Mar

Brookgreen Gardens is just across the highway from Huntington State Park, however, that highway is a busy divided highway and not suitable to cross on foot so to enable us to visit we took haRVey too. No problem parking in the large Welcome Centre car park and having haRVey with us meant that at lunchtime we could pop back for a snack!

Brookgreen Gardens, originally a rice plantation, was developed by Archer and Anna Huntington, opened in 1931 as a place to display the sculpture of Anna and other artists of their choice. Formal gardens are laid out around individual sculptures creating vistas from one area to another and displaying the art work in a tranquil setting. In other areas a more wild feel with giant old live oaks draped with Spanish moss under planted with spring flowers.




Whilst Anna’s passion was her sculpture Archer wrote poetry, some of his verses and the poems of others are dotted along the pathways. The one below I found particularly pertinent to ourselves.



The Brown Sculpture Court with its central water feature and shaded walkways was very inviting as the day grew warmer, arches led into and out of the courtyard, the air was full of the perfume of a beautiful Wisteria which draped the arch furthest away from us.











Whilst I was enjoying the spectacle of the flowers, buzzing with bees and the wonderful smell Roberts eyes began to water and his nose twitch from the pollen. We moved swiftly on.


At 2pm we gathered with a group of other people to listen to a talk on Gullah and Geechee, the language and traditions of the slaves brought to this area from West Africa.

Our lecturer began by teaching us a song to illustrate each of his points, set to the tune of an old negro slave song, the audience warmed to his learning method and repeated the chorus after him. His animated style meant the talk was liberally punctuated with laughter. 

We heard how the plantations in this area evolved from cotton and indigo to rice, eventually laying waste after the slave trade was abolished, the land owners no longer able to maintain such labour intensive crops without the vast amounts of cheap labour provided by the slaves.


This decorative plaque incorporates the cotton,indigo, rice and maize plants.







We walked out on the low country trail which winds through the area where the slaves would have lived in their small wooden cabins watched over by the overseer. A task  system was employed to allocate work to the slaves in this region, this could be a whole day half or quarter but once that days task was completed it seems the slave was free to do as he wished even being able to sell his labour elsewhere to boost his income. This seemed a much more humane existence than that we heard about in Mississippi.

Along the route there were several audio stations where you could press a button and listen to a commentary on whatever part of the story you were looking at. Several of P1160891these included traditional singing as the slaves would have done in the fields while they worked. Standing looking out over the fields with the singing in the background gave quite an eerie feeling.






From the Low Country Trail we walked back to the sculpture gardens via the Trail Beyond the Garden Wall, a natural grassy area alongside the waterway again nicely shaded from the heat of the sun.


One of the last areas we visited was the Fountain of the Muses



It made a change to have images of men, so many of the sculptures had been animals or women, very beautiful women, with whom I would gladly swap bodies! I digress – the men…. I love the way it looks like they are running over the water, they were actually standing on a dolphin.

P1160893see what I mean about the body?

I really wasn’t sure I would enjoy a sculpture garden, the day however passed by swiftly each new area keeping us entertained with its various themes. Anna’s sculptures were primarily of animals which figure prominently in the collection, we liked this heavy horse who was a contrast to some of the other sleek and gentle creatures we had seen.


Myths and legends were also well represented and Time and the Fates of Man captured our imagination. The three fates being Clotho who spun the thread of life Lachesis, who measured it and determined life’s direction then finally, Atropos who cut the thread determining death. They are sheltered by the tree of life.


We were curious as to where the Huntington’s lived on the land they owned and had thought maybe they had a house nearby the area of the sculpture garden. Back at the campground we walked the half mile or so to the Atalaya for the Ranger led tour and discovered this very uncompromising building was the winter home for Archer and Anna who liked to spend the season here working on their art. For the rest of the year they had homes in New York and other States.

The house whilst large is very austere, Archer designed it with the influence of Moorish architecture he admired. The house was built of brick, using local labour in the depression years of the 1930’s, it seems totally from the minds eye of Archer as no blue prints exist.  The green wrought iron window covers were designed by Anna to help protect from the hurricanes which often hit this coast. At the time the house was built it stood only a few feet from the waters edge, the build up of dunes over the years now gives it a shelter from the waves of maybe 200ft.


A variety of animals were kept at the house and it seems they were more welcome than visitors who were received seldom and not usually to stay overnight. A stable building for horses also was the home of a bear and an alligator, they had several dogs and a macaw, Anna apparently would sit for hours to observe the animals using her observations to create her art.

A large staff looked after the couple, their quarters whilst small were comfortable. Almost every room had a fireplace and water for the whole house, including elaborate showers in the bathrooms, was supplied from a water tank hidden in a central tower which looked like a  watch tower.

An eccentric couple, each came from a wealthy background, who lived what seems to be an idyllic life, Archer died in 1955, Anna lived to be 97 and died in 1973. They gave the land the State Park is on for public use.

Until Saturday evening our weather had been great, a little too warm a couple of nights, unseasonably warm we were told, a thunder storm changed all that! Around 2 am Sunday morning it rolled in and continued until lunchtime, the rain and grey sky stayed for the rest of the day.

 Forced to stay indoors Robert decided to bake


The results kept me happy too!

Monday was little better, the thunder had gone but the rain, including a torrential downpour for about 30 minutes at the beginning of the day, again kept us mostly inside. Eventually, desperate to stretch our legs we put on waterproofs to at least do a circuit of the campground and dump the rubbish. It was SO cold! From our high 70’s to 80 degree temperatures it had plummeted to 44 degrees, that is the daytime high NOT LOW!

Tuesday morning I lifted the blind to see blue sky and sunshine HURRAH! Out to the beach…

standing in one spot and taking a view in each direction this is what you see










From Litchfield Beach to Murrells Inlet miles of flat sand, the wind was still cold but who cares when the sun is shining and the sky is this blue?

2 Responses to “Huntington Beach, Brookgreen Gardens and the Atalaya”

  1. Катрин August 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Изумительная тема! Утончённое приключение.

  2. Катрин August 20, 2011 at 1:03 am #


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