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New coffee-table book highlights beauty, majesty of Brookgreen Gardens

4 Oct

New coffee-table book highlights beauty, majesty of Brookgreen Gardens

A new book about Brookgreen Gardens hasn’t even reached the printing press, but it has already garnered advance praise from artists, authors, scholars and media personnel.

A nod to its long-standing motto, the 120-page hardcover coffee-table book is titled “Brookgreen Gardens: Ever Changing. Simply Amazing” and will be released just before Christmas — on Dec. 22, 2021. Brookgreen describes the book as “beautifully illustrated … featuring the sights and stories of America’s first public sculpture garden.”

“This book is a joy to read and celebrates one of our nation’s garden gems,” says Michael J. Balick, vice president and director of the Institute of Economic Botany at The New York Botanical Garden. “A combination of public garden, wildlife sanctuary and art museum, Brookgreen Gardens is an extraordinary institution, a credit to the vision of its founders, as well as the staff who continue to curate it with such great care. Among American cultural institutions, I would think that the word unique is an apt descriptor.”

The opening title page to “Brookgreen Gardens: Ever Changing. Simply Amazing” showcases a photo of Spanish moss-draped live oaks. (Photos courtesy of Brookgreen Gardens)

Brookgreen Gardens is celebrating its 90th anniversary with a series of special events and programs, and the book is one of the many things planned for the milestone year. Brookgreen was founded in 1931 by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Anna’s breathtaking sculptures and hundreds more by artists from around the world can be viewed throughout Brookgreen Gardens and in select galleries. Brookgreen is located in Murrells Inlet in Georgetown County, South Carolina, and is a top attraction on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®, which stretches from southern Garden City to the historic city of Georgetown. The Hammock Coast, located south of Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand and north of Charleston, is home to a string of pristine beaches, including Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island, that have called to visitors for more than 200 years.

Brookgreen, with thousands of acres of South Carolina forest and gardens, has long been a photographer’s dream. Larry Lederman, author of “Garden Portraits: Experiences of Natural Beauty,” said the forthcoming book, which will be published by the University of South Carolina Press, was adamant with his praise.

The photographs in ‘Brookgreen Gardens’ sparkle and show the beauty of the art and the unique landscape,” Lederman said, “but more than that, they illuminate all the facets of Brookgreen, bringing you close so that they caress the sculpture and reveal the elegance of the trees and plantings.”

The book will showcase more than 100 dazzling photographs and illuminates stories of Brookgreen’s world-renowned collection of American figurative sculpture, ever-blooming botanical gardens, Lowcountry wildlife sanctuary, and rich history.

The book will be a highlight of the anniversary year, said Brookgreen President and CEO Page Hayhurst Kiniry.

“From our large sculptures to brilliantly blooming gardens, this book brings Brookgreen Gardens to life on the page,” Kiniry said. “By launching this book during our 90th anniversary year, we are able to celebrate a monumental milestone in Brookgreen’s history and detail Brookgreen’s evolution into America’s first sculpture garden.”

From the founding of Brookgreen Gardens 90 years ago to the brand-new Rosen Galleries exhibition space, the book celebrates the legacy of the Huntingtons that continues to expand today. Advancing the founder’s original mission, Brookgreen collects, conserves, and exhibits American figurative sculpture, as well as the plants, animals, and cultural materials of the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Azaleas and dogwoods in bloom at Anna Huntington’s magnificent 1927 limestone sculpture “Youth Taming the Wild” at Brookgreen Gardens.

Peter Trippi, editor-in-chief of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine, said the book “is an enticing introduction for those who haven’t visited yet and an immersive rediscovery for those who have. The book illustrates beautifully how sculpture, horticulture, and wildlife enhance each other,” while Amanda McNulty, host of SCETV’s “Making it Grow,” said the new Brookgreen pictorial book “creatively highlights the conservation of art, the importance of historical accuracy, and the preservation of natural resources.”

“As a horticulturist and environmentalist,” McNulty said, “I’ve rejoiced in the Garden’s removal of invasive species, the addition of more native plants and pollinator-friendly gardens, and the protection of timberlands.”

The cover of “Brookgreen Gardens: Ever Changing, Simply Amazing.” Pre-order for the book, which will be released Dec. 22, are being taken now at Keepsakes, the Brookgreen gift shop.

Amy Dempsey, author of the book “Destination Art,” had this to say about Brookgreen and its importance to art and nature: “Peaceful, thoughtful and beautiful, Brookgreen Gardens – simultaneously art museum, botanical garden and wildlife sanctuary – has something for everyone. Its thought-provoking, tranquil and playful elements help preserve and interpret aspects of the history and environment of the South Carolina Lowcountry and that of the Gullah Geechee people.”

And Wade Davis, a professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, showcases the importance of Brookgreen not only to the Hammock Coast and South Carolina but for the world, as well.

“Brookgreen Gardens,” Davis said, “is one of the hidden jewels of America, a sanctuary that celebrates the full wonder of South Carolina, its history and culture, flora and fauna, spirit and imagination. Nature and the arts inspire us, bringing peace, joy, and solace, and the Huntington family’s gift provides both a window into the past and a vista into the promise of a future informed by the beauty, tranquility, and glory of the natural world.”

For Bob Jewell, a retired president and CEO of Brookgreen and a current member of the Georgetown County Tourism Management Commission, the importance of Brookgreen Gardens as a top attraction of South Carolina’s Hammock Coast can’t be overstated.

“Brookgreen is a must-see while visiting South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®, where you will find beautiful beaches, top tier golf and historical interpretation at every stop,” Jewell said. “Brookgreen Gardens and the Hammock Coast is a vacation experience you will never forget! Together they are: ‘Ever Changing and Simply Amazing’!”

Brookgreen is open to the public daily and also features, in price admission, access to the Lowcountry Zoo, the only accredited zoo in South Carolina. Brookgreen is home to the largest and most significant collection of American figurative sculpture in the United States and is a leader in sculpture conservation, environmental conservation, and the protection of the plants, animals, and history of the South Carolina Lowcountry.  More information can be found at www.brookgreen.org or by calling 843-235-6000.

To pre-order the new coffee-table book, call Keepsakes, Brookgreen’s Museum Shop, at 843-235-6038. For a preview of the book, visit https://spaces.hightail.com/space/VMewYdmxin.

By Mark A. Stevens, director of tourism development for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®

For more information about the Hammock Coast, visit www.HammockCoastSC.com.

Want to know more about South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®? Check out these stories:

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Hammock Coast beaches get high marks from visitors.

Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art set for October.

Discover 5 paths of Gullah-Geechee Culture on the Hammock Coast.

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