Pink Perfection Camellia by Middleton Place

Take a Stroll through the Camellias

After the chilly days of winter, we rejoice at any sign that spring is on her way. Those early signs come in the form of wintertime blooms of camellias, followed shortly by azaleas, daffodils and tulips.

Visit Charleston’s parks, green spaces and plantations to see these beauties in bloom.

Middleton Place hosts Camellia Walks at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through March 21. These 90-minute guided tours focus on camellias throughout the original gardens as well as the camellia garden created in the 1950s.

Middleton family history notes that in 1786 French botanist Andrè Michaux gave the Middletons some of the first camellias to be planted in an American garden. Today, Middleton Place has more than 4,000 camellias, many of which are more than 220 years old, including one of the four original Michaux plants, which is known at Middleton Place as the “Reine des Fleurs” or “Queen of Flowers.”

The Camellia Walks are free with general admission but reservations are required. Book online or for more information, call 843-556-6020.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens offers free camellia walks daily through mid-March. Some 20,000 camellias are in bloom, including more than 1,000 cultivators of Japonica – more than any garden in America. Ancient camellias (dating to pre-1900) are a specialty at Magnolia. The family introduced more than 150 cultivars of Japonica to America from the 1840s to 1940s as well as searching worldwide for camellias facing the threat of extinction.

On Valentine’s Day weekend, enjoy a Valentine Chocolate and Camellia Sweetheart Stroll from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 14-15. Sample a variety of tasty treats at chocolate stations throughout the gardens along the Ashley River. While the adults are sampling chocolates, children can head to Magnolia’s gingerbread house to craft valentine greetings for their parents. The stroll is free with garden admission.

Also stop off at one of Charleston’s many city parks where trees, flowers and bushes will be blooming. Azalea Park in Summerville is also filled with blooms during late March and early April.