Brookgreen named one of America’s Best Botanical Gardens by USA Today

21 Mar

Brookgreen named one of America’s Best Botanical Gardens by USA Today

Visitors and residents of South Carolina’s Hammock Coast® know that Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet is “Ever Changing, Simply Amazing” (as the slogan goes) and has earned accolades.

The latest recognition comes from USA Today which included Brookgreen Gardens at No. 7 in its 2024 10Best list of “Best Botanical Gardens” in the United States.

“From desert climates to Japanese gardens, these stunning venues — selected by an expert panel and voted by readers as the best botanical gardens in the U.S. — showcase vast collections of plant life, helping to promote and conserve the plant diversity of our planet,” the USA Today article states.

The Butterfly Garden is a spectacular place in spring. (Photo courtesy of Brookgreen Gardens)

The article has this to say about Brookgreen Gardens:

“Founded in 1931 by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, Brookgreen Gardens combines art, nature, and history. The Botanical Gardens at Brookgreen boast 250-year-old live oak trees, a butterfly garden, the Palmetto Garden, and the Brenda W. Rosen Carolina Terrace Garden. Visitors strolling the grounds will delight in the beauty of the sculptures and the bold garden designs.”

Page Kiniry, president/CEO of Brookgreen Gardens, said she is thankful for the recognition.

“Brookgreen is honored to recognized by USA TODAY 10Best as one of the top botanical gardens in the country,” Kiniry said. “We also want to offer congratulations to all our peer gardens nominated for this award and are proud to be in the company of Gardens making a difference in plant conservation and education.” 

Other botanical gardens on the 10Best list were: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden – Cincinnati, Ohio; Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden – Coral Gables, Florida; Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Sarasota, Florida; Tucson Botanical Gardens – Tucson, Arizona; Botanica, The Wichita Gardens – Wichita, Kansas; Huntsville Botanical Garden – Huntsville, Alabama; Munsinger and Clemens Gardens – St. Cloud, Minnesota; McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay – Redding, California; and ABQ BioPark – Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Daffodils in bloom in Live Oak Allee (Photo courtesy of Brookgreen Gardens)

When Archer Huntington and his wife, noted sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, purchased property in South Carolina in 1930, the original idea was to build a retreat from the world while Anna, who had been diagnosed with tuberculosis, recovered her strength. However, 18 months later, on July 13, 1931, the property was incorporated under the laws of South Carolina as a private, not-for-profit corporation titled “Brookgreen Gardens, A Society for Southeastern Flora and Fauna.”

From its inception, Brookgreen had a three-pronged purpose: first, to collect, exhibit, and preserve American figurative sculpture; second, to collect, exhibit, and preserve the plants of the Southeast; and third, to collect, exhibit, and preserve the animals of the Southeast. Collecting and exhibiting, it became the first public sculpture garden in America. Today it is the finest outdoor museum of its type in the world.

Archer Milton Huntington was one of the wealthiest men in America. He was the foremost Hispanic scholar of his time, a poet, industrialist and founder of Brookgreen Gardens and several cultural public institutions.

Anna Hyatt Huntington was an award-winning sculptor. At a time when few women were successful artists, she had a thriving career. She created the first public monument by a women in New York City, Joan of Arc. The vision for Brookgreen Gardens was at first to contain just her sculpture, but was quickly expanded to envision a permanent collection that would represent the best of American sculpture from the 19th century to the present.

Fountain of the Muses by Carl Milles (Photo courtesy of Brookgreen Gardens)

Brookgreen Gardens is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission tickets are good for seven consecutive days and cost $22 for adults, $12 for children ages 4 to 12, free for children aged 3 and under, and #20 for seniors aged 65 and older.

It is located at 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576 on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast. For more information, click here.

By Clayton Stairs / tourism manager for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®

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