The Best Blooms in Charleston

Camellia at Middleton Place

Photo/Middleton Place

It’s tough to beat the beauty of springtime in Charleston. From the wisteria and jasmine to the azaleas and camellias, the Holy City is literally bursting with colorful. So if you’ve had enough of winter (and who hasn’t), here are some opportunities to get out and enjoy the first blooms of spring.

Camellia Walks at Middleton Place are 11 a.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through March 22. Take a guided tour through the gardens to learn all about the camellias that fill the original gardens and the ones planted in a “new” garden in the 1950s. Middleton Place is home to hundreds of varieties of camellias, including the 1786 Reine des Fleurs, one of the first camellias planted in America. Tours are free with the price of admission and last about 90 minutes. 

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens hosts camellia walks daily through March; many camellias continue to bloom into April. The gardens are home to 20,000 camellias, including more than 1,000 cultivars of Japonica, more than any garden in America.

Ancient camellias – those dating pre-1900 – are a specialty at Magnolia Plantation. Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, Magnolia introduced more than 150 cultivars of Japonica to America. In 1854 the Rev. John Grimke-Drayton wrote, “I have discovered that there were a hundred and twenty double varieties there. How many singles, semi-doubles, peony forms and others, I do not pretend to know. I can only describe their number as Legion.”

Azalea Park in downtown Summerville is 12 acres of gardens, bridges, butterfly ponds, gardens, an amphitheater and sculptures – all of which are surrounded by hot pink azaleas, white dogwoods and lavender wisteria. Be sure to stop by during the annual Flowertown Festival, one of the Southeast’s largest arts and crafts festivals, April 4-6 in the park and surrounding streets. 

Two other opportunities to catch Charleston in bloom:

Historic Charleston Foundation tour (photo/Amy Marie Kay photography)

Historic Charleston Foundation tour (photo/Amy Marie Kay photography)

The Historic Charleston Foundation hosts the Spring Festival of Houses and Gardens from March 20 to April 19. Explore the city’s old and historic district in a series of tours showcasing Charleston’s distinctive architecture, history, gardens and culture. Events include morning history walking tours, lectures, wine tastings and tours of private homes and gardens. Info: 843-722-3405

The Garden Club of Charleston’s 79th annual Walking Tour of Private Houses & Gardens is April 11-12. The tour includes some of Charleston’s finest houses and gardens in the historic district as well as flowers arranged by members of The Garden Club of Charleston and refreshments in a Charleston garden. Info: 843-406-7626