Renowned as one of South Carolina’s most beloved landmarks, Brookgreen Gardens is the culmination of breathtaking gardens, rich historical wonders and gracious southern hospitality. Although it bears the name “Gardens”, Brookgreen is so much more than that—it’s also home to a wildlife sanctuary, creek excursions, back road tours, seasonal events and more.
The idea of Brookgreen Gardens was first conceived and designed by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington in the 1930s. A historic old rice plantation forms the basis for the gardens, with massive live oak trees bedecked in hanging moss indigenous to the Lowcountry speckled across the 300-acre parcel. Attractively laid out in the heart of a 9,100-acre preserve along the South Carolina coast, Brookgreen was highly celebrated for being the first public sculpture garden built in the U.S. And for 83 years, it has maintained it’s standing as a refuge and retreat for the community. In April 2013, Brookgreen Gardens was named by TripAdvisor as “One of the 2013 Top Ten Public Gardens in the United States”, which is indicative of the garden’s long-standing commitment to excellence, in all that it does.
The Gardens —Floral Jewel of South Carolina’s Coastal Community
The property at Brookgreen Gardens is a testament to the natural landscapes that surrounds this site. Within it, set amongst streams, ponds, ornamental planting and live oaks is the Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington Sculpture Garden, the first public sculpture garden ever built in the U.S. The collection, which now displays more than 1,444 works of American figurative sculpture by over 350 sculptors, was originally built around sculptress Hyatt Huntington’s own work and that of her contemporaries. Today, however, it also features the work of other artists and offers several important traveling exhibits from across the country.
The Sculpture Garden, shaped like a butterfly spreading its wings, consists of several smaller gardens, each with their own unique focus.
Diana Garden: Upon entering this magnificent garden, you’ll be greeted by beauty and color that will astound you as you take in the breadth of the Sculpture Garden.
The Live Oak Allée Garden: A section of the Gardens that is home to 300 year-old Live Oak trees that were planted when Brookgreen Gardens was a thriving rice plantation.
Dorothy P. Peace Garden Room for Children: Located in the lower right wing of the Sculpture Garden, the Garden Room for Children boasts horticultural surprises and delights.
Brenda W. Rosen Carolina Terrace Garden: A miraculous sight to see, this garden displays a spectacular array of perennials, roses, shrubs and mature trees.
The Fountain of the Muses Garden: A whimsical display, complete with a sculpture of the same name and a bold garden design.
The Labyrinth at Brookgreen: A medieval, seven circuit Chartres style labyrinth overlooking the natural beauty of a tributary creek of the Waccamaw River. The newest addition to the Gardens!
Lowcountry Center Garden: A rich landscape of native plants available in the southeastern region and home to Bethea’s Cultural Garden, a display of vegetable and herbs grown during the plantation period at Brookgreen Gardens.
An Ever Expansive List of Things to Explore
Whether you are fascinated by the quiet splendor of Brookgreen’s outstanding collection of American figurative sculpture, captivated by the garden’s changing colors and textures, or interested in the culture of the Carolina Lowcountry, you will find much to enjoy at Brookgreen Gardens. From pontoon boat cruises and overland excursions on the Trekker to engaging animal programs and a new butterfly house—there is always something new and exciting to explore at Brookgreen Gardens.
Lowcountry Zoo: Since its inception, the Lowcountry Zoo has been a valuable part of Brookgreen Gardens. Set along a woodland trail, the zoo offers visitors the chance to observe a variety of animals—both native wildlife and domestic animals common to colonial South Carolina—as well as several aviaries, a fox glade, a white-tailed deer savannah and alligator swamp. It is the only accredited zoo on the Carolinas coast and also home to an animal rehab facility.
Natural Areas: Brookgreen Gardens has thousands of acres to explore. Enjoy boat tours with views of Sandy Island and a self-guided nature trail tour that shows off the 2,000 identified species of life, including majestic longleaf pines, Spanish moss draped live oaks, and vistas of the river and nearby marshland. You’ll catch a firsthand glimpse at native plants and animals of the South Carolina Lowcountry as well as the great rice plantations of the 1800’s.
Seasonal Exhibits: Aside from using many different themes for seasonal display plantings, Brookgreen Gardens hosts many other special exhibits and events throughout the year. On March 22nd, passionate gardeners can enjoy the ‘Diggin It’ Spring Garden Festival where they can engage in horticultural adventures. Starting in April, visitors can watch as hundreds of butterflies flutter back and forth in the Butterfly House. And don’t miss out on the Enchanting Storybook Forest, a collection of storybook playhouses created by local builders, architects and organizations, lasting from May through October. Be sure to check the events calendar often, as it is chock full of many more wonderful events—some that fill up quickly.
Brookgreen Gardens, a true hidden gem, is more than just a natural landscape—it’s a cultural landmark. Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind adventure, where nature, art and history combine to create one awe-inspiring botanical experience.
Planning Your Visit to Brookgreen Gardens
To give visitors the chance to see everything there is to see at Brookgreen Gardens, the admission ticket is good for seven consecutive days.
1931 Brookgreen Dr.
Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
Ages 13-64 – $14
Seniors 65 and older – $12
Ages 4- 12 – $7
Children 3 and younger – Free
Days and Hours of Operation
Daily 9:30 am – 5 pm
Hours extended during some special events and festivals
There is a complimentary shuttle to that runs daily on a continuous basis to the three main areas—the Gardens, the Lowcountry Center, and the Zoo.
Brookgreen is handicapped accessible and they offer child and adult strollers on a complimentary, first-come basis.
There is a wonderful restaurant for lunch (11:30-3:00), the Pavilion, which has a wait staff. Additionally, there are two locations for casual meals, either the Low Country cafe, or the Old Kitchen.