Doing the Charleston

Charleston was one of the first major towns in the American colonies. The historic district is full of well-preserved buildings from the early 19th and 18th Centuries. In fact, it seems every building in that part of town had a plaque attesting to its age and historic significance.

Would we have ponsettias without Charleston?

I found Waterfront Park and the Battery to be a little disappointing, though I appreciated looking out from the Battery to Fort Sumter on its island in the harbor. From that spot, crowds had cheered the shelling of the fort and the start of the Civil War, with little idea of the suffering to come. None of the monuments seemed to indicate any second thoughts on the matter – but more on the historic angle in my next post.

Monument near the Battery.

What we enjoyed in Charleston was not so much specific sites as simply wandering through the mostly tiny streets. The streets, buildings, and gardens provide many, many views that please the eye. Charleston is a small city with an elegant and intimate feel.


Live oaks apparently make an excellent street tree, and few if any can make a better canopy.

Live Oaks

There is plenty of architecture reflecting the wealth that still seems to shape the city’s aura.

Calhoun House
Calhoun House


Palmettos line some streets.

Ornamental ironwork is plentiful.

Ornamental Ironwork

I have to mention that blooms could still be seen here and there. Lots of window boxes and other containers.

Window Box

Judy started to get weary taking pictures of every blooming flower we saw, so I took some of these with my cell phone.

Flowering Container

There were plenty of camelias.

Pink Camelia

Also lots of Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitorium), both in the city and growing wild in the countryside. The plentiful berries look good spilling over an old brick wall.

Yaupon Holly

Most Charleston gardens are enclosed, so it’s difficult to get a really good look. However, if you don’t mind sneak peeks you can get a few eyefulls.  Formal clipped boxwood seems to be pretty popular.

Formal Garden

We also visited the historic cemetery at the Charleston Unitarian Church, which is worth a visit. This is a cemetery that would be really good for a movie about ghosts. From the gravestones you can infer some sad tales about wives and children lost, as well as just how bad things must have been right around the end of the Civil War.

Charleston Unitarian Cemetary

There were also some roses and narcissus blooming.

Charleston Unitarian Cemetary

Now I know I said that I would talk about Savannah in this post, but Judy took upwards of 600 photographs on this trip and it’s just too difficult to winnow them down to the right number for just three posts. So to cover Savannah and a couple of other things, there will be one more post. Until then, cheers.

32 Comments on “Doing the Charleston

  1. Love the Live Oaks! We saw a lot of them in New Orleans, too. And the Narcissus in the cemetery–what a hopeful touch. Judy’s photography is amazing! I can’t wait to read/see your Savannah post!

    • I agree, the Narcissus did much to relieve the gloomy atmosphere. I’m very lucky to have Judy, wouldn’t be much of a blog without her. Oh, and she’s important for a few other things, I guess.

    • Hmmm. Would it make you feel better if I told you I had to drive down to Springfield on a Sunday and spend the week there for my job? And I lived in Wisconsin for two years, there’s definitely no tundra. Sounds like you live in a beautiful area, and with so many wonderful family members nearby. If you get tired of it, you should drive down to Chicago for a few days. If you do, let us know, we’d be glad to meet you!

  2. Charleston is on my list of places to see. Thank you for this wonderful first glimpse. Ilex vomitorium is aptly named imo. Your picture is wonderful but that’s one plant I could live without. (Was going to add “it turns my stomach” ha! but in truth that’s a bit harsh. I just think it’s overdone!)
    Can’t wait to see your Savannah shots. I’ve been there several times and really enjoyed it.

    • Now that shows the importance of personal perspective. I thought I. vomitorium was beautiful, but hollies are not common around here.

  3. What a beautiful looking place. I love all the trees and window boxes, good on ya for taking the cell phone snaps! It’s great to have a virtual tour! I’m looking forward to your Savannah post 🙂

  4. Charleston obviously has so much history connected with it, must have been a wonderful place to visit, thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. Wandering through the city and admiring the architecture and private gardens would be my favorite part too! I love the historic charm of older cities in the south. Such fun secret gardens to peek into! Love those Oaks!

  6. Charleston has always been on my must see places and it will certainly remain there as I plan for future trips…your tour was wonderful and gave me lots of ideas..thanks

  7. Great, catchy title!!! What a fine city too. When I visit cities, I like to see the old, long established cemeteries too. They are little architecture, especially in the South. Love the ‘real’ architecture too, along with the slower culture of the area. Everyone is so easy going and friendly in the South.

    • I’m glad you liked the title. I was worried it was kind of obvious and corny, also not a clear enough link to the subject. But I couldn’t think of anything else.

  8. Charleston and Savannah should be everyone’s must-see list – they are amazing little cities, and very do-able for weekend trips. Both are stunning (architecture, gardens, parks), and both have great food (Fig in Charleston is fantastic). And yes, also great for those interested in history.

  9. What a fabulous time you are having. I wouldn’t mind strolling along shady street right now. It would mean it was warm! I have never visited this part of the country and it is beautiful.

  10. Hello Jason, it looks very picturesque, especially the tree-lined avenues and secret/secluded gardens, lovely photos. I suspect that the poinsettia would still be a staple christmas plant, but would be called something completely different if Joel Roberts hadn’t introduced it.

  11. What a gorgeous city. I would love to visit the South one of these days. All those enclosed gardens would be too tempting for me – I’d be scaling the walls to get a peek.

  12. I spent a summer month in downtown Charleston as a high school student and formed a very romantic view of the city. So it seemed a natural place to honeymoon when I got married years later. I’d love to take a garden tour there one day. Have you ever read “Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden”? It’s a marvelous garden memoir.

    • Charleston would be a great place for a honeymoon, as long as it wasn’t in the heat of summer. Thanks for the book tip, I’ll try to find it.

  13. I can’t believe I have never been to Charleston! Your photos confirm this is a place I must visit. So much charm and history. I must see that cemetery and get a look at some of those gardens!

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