In the Midst of Darkness, Light Persists!

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These words, shared by Mahatma Gandhi, rang true for us this week as we visited a wonderful local landmark. Brookgreen Gardens is truly an oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the South Strand between Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island. Created in 1931 by Archer and Anna Huntington, it provides almost 10,000 acres of beauty on what was originally the site of four rice plantations. Brookgreen Gardens features art galleries, themed gardens containing sculptures, walking trails through various ecosytems, and the Lowcountry Zoo.

This past Thursday evening, Bill and I attended Summer Light: Art by Night, a special event occurring during July and August at Brookgreen Gardens – and what a special event it was! Thousands and thousands of lights in all different patterns and arrangements adorned the grounds, and visitors were also welcomed into several galleries. There was also entertainment and food trucks, which added to the festive atmosphere.

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Our first stop was the Rosen Galleries, which housed the 88th Annual Awards Exhibition. There were multiple rooms of amazing sculptures created by artists from all over the United States and patrons were encouraged to submit a vote for the “People’s Choice Award.” Some of our favorites were Bridge of Brotherhood, Mother of Peace, and Harriet Tubman. In the midst of the sculptures sat a local pianist, playing beautifully on the piano of Anna Huntington, founder and animal sculptress herself! Many of the sculptures were also for sale, ranging from $2,500 to $50,000! We passed on a purchase but certainly added our vote for our favorite – Mother of Peace!

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Following this experience we ventured out onto the gorgeously lit grounds. There were actually nine themed garden areas, each illuminated in a different way. For example, along the Entrance Portico, over 800 recycled plastic bottles provided the look of a waterfall of cascading lights.

Another amazing spot was the Huntington Sculpture Garden where over 200 lanterns adorned the most majestic oaks I have ever seen – complete with hanging moss! Continuing the oak tree theme, in Oak Allee, another 800 star-like lights illuminated the oaks.

At one point we diverted our stroll and went into The Noble Gallery to view the Wild Bees exhibit. These magnificent photographs are the result of a three-year project of a photojournalist and a nature photographer, which not only emphasizes the beauty of bees but also the role that they play in our planet’s health. Did you know that there are more than 120 native species of bees just in the northeastern United States? Every day is a learning experience!

Those of you who know me well may have guessed this, but a favorite display for me was entitled Uncorked! Here, almost 800 wine bottles – collected locally – illuminated a marsh area toward the outward edge of the gardens. Ah, the things you can do with a wine bottle!

We followed our ears and made our way to the stage/food area to enjoy the music of In Layman Terms, a quartet that sings the blues and does so throughout the country. It was a great finale to an evening of flora, fauna, lights, art, and culture. An evening well spent for sure – recommended for all!

Stay Calm and Travel On…


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