We are one month closer to spring, warmer weather, and an abundance of gorgeous flowers!
I have been wanting to write this blog post for awhile as I have developed a new love affair with horticulture, particularly spring flowers. If I had a Tinder profile it would read: “she likes long walks, photography, and pretty flowers… at the same time.”
Living in Charleston, with its manicured parks, plantations, and historically preserved gardens, we are not at a loss for flowers around here. Sure we’re no London or Tokyo, but there is just enough to go around and something for everyone almost any time of the year.
To any of you who are new to Charleston, visiting or planning to visit Charleston, or simply headed out for a walk and looking for a good place to see a flower or two, I hope you will find this post helpful. Here is my top list of where to go, when to go, and what you will get to see:
In January we enjoyed a variety of red, pink, white, and hybrid color camellias all around town. They start blooming around Christmas time and stick around for awhile, pretty much all the way through mid to late February. Middleton Plantation and Magnolia Gardens both do a camellia walk which is a tour during camellia season included with the price of admission. For a cheaper alternative, we like to head to Charleston Towne Landing State Park. There are also several camellia plants in Hampton Park still blooming as of this post.
Currently, in February, you should head to Hampton Park to see the Japanese magnolia tree, also know as saucer magnolia. There is only one like it in the park, on the northwest side of the duck pond. It reached peak bloom around February 2-3 this year so don’t wait to late to go check it out.
Addendum: we went for a jog today February 6 and this tree￼ has lost so many petals and is on its way out. We did find two more smaller ones near the playground but nothing as photogenic￼ as this guy￼.
March is when things really start getting exciting. Again head over to Hampton Park for a gorgeous cherry blossom canopy on the south side of the pond. Fun fact, this particular tree has some sort of genetic (?) malformation and blooms both white and pink within the same tree. I have not fact checked this but we were told this by a fellow park go-er and nonetheless it is a gorgeous tree. We went last year on March 3rd and it was in peak bloom but a week later every single flower was gone. Cherry blossoms don’t hold their blooms long so around late February start keeping your eye out for this one.
Also in March our favorite wisteria grows downtown on Meeting Street. Check out this post I did last year for more information. This spot has gotten popular between tourists and bloggers so go early in the morning for less crowds and also for the indirect sunlight. In the past three years we have had great wisteria blooms around March 22 and 23, but by the 28th they were starting to die out.This past March we also stumbled across a beautiful Chinese fringe tree on lower King Street. I loved how this particular one was manicured into a canopy between the two houses. We were here on March 29 of last year.
As March comes to an end and April begins, the azaleas begin showing up. Although they vary on their arrival time each year, I always know when the azaleas are going to be in bloom because it coincides with the annual Cooper River Bridge Run (as well as the Flower Town Festival in Summerville, but spoiler alert: there are less flowers and more funnel cakes and popcorn vendors, so unless that’s the goal I wouldn’t bother with the festival). There are azaleas all around town though, so you really can’t miss them! This particular photo of the white azaleas was taken in the Old Village and the pink ones were found walking along in our neighborhood on James Island. Peep that newborn baby!By mid April into early May, the palmetto trees at Coloniel Lake start to show off their wrapped up blanket of Peggy Martin “Katrina” roses. Last year we went on April 24th and they were right around peak bloom and still looked great. The year before we went on May 11th and they also still looked really good. This is a popular spot for runners and walkers but you shouldn’t have a hard time grabbing a photo! They are along the Rutledge Avenue side.May is quintessential spring in my opinion and each year around Mother’s Day you can smell the jasmine before you even see it. There is a gorgeous arch of jasmine at Hampton park, although last year it was starting to look overgrown with other vines so I do hope someone gives it some TLC this year. It is located on the gravel path on the Southeastern side of the pond. In the past we have gone on May 5 and May 13, so don’t wait too late into May or they may all be gone, but you will start seeing them arrive by late April. There is also a popular home on Church street near Stolls Alley that gets a lot of jasmine love. (also different baby, different dress, different year… same shoes)
Head back to Coloniel Lake again late May for the vitex, aka the chaste trees. These trees hold a special place in my heart, but that’s a story for another day. They line the entire right side of the lake along Rutledge Avenues but closer to the lake. We went both May 26, 2018 and last year on June 5. They were definitely better looking in late May then they were by June. Side note, look how pale I was looking for it being May but also I looked so very happy.
June and July in Charleston starts to get very very hot. But there are still blooms to be seen. Hydrangeas start popping up in June and although my neighborhood has many, I have yet to find a public spot in town to take a good photo of these beauties. I’ll keep searching.
In late June, though July and into August, we start to see the crepe myrtles popping up. We have some in our own back yard but we love to walk around other neighborhoods to see more of a variety. The first photo is from my yard. The second photo was from the Old Village taken on June 23. The crepe myrtles stay blooming until August so you are sure to catch one at some point if you come over the summer.
Fast forward to the fall. The weather in Charleston is still warm for awhile and although everyone else if discussing pumpkins, fallen leaves, and hues of red and orange, I am still looking for my flowers. In September the Japanese maple tree, which isn’t a flower but still worth noting, shows off its beautiful dark red and orange colors, so be on the lookout for these around town.
By October, butterfly bushes can still be found around town. We found this bush on a walk on the evening of October 19th right on Broad Street.
If you are lucky to get invited to a wedding at the Island House on Johns Island, there is an amazing field of wildflowers that we caught on November 3. This is a private venue but you could always call and see if they let folks stop by for photos.
Around November, there is also so much pink sweetgrass around town. They are not necessarily a flower, but still makes for a fun pink background in photos. We found these randomly at the corner of Harbor View Road and Fort Johnson Road on James Island but there are some decent ones at Charles Towne Landing too.
By December we are getting ready for camellias again and its back to the top!
I am sure I left out so many others so comment below if you know of any other spots in town worthy of bringing your “nice camera.”
Of course depending on the temperature, rainfall, if we had a late freeze, long vs short winter, etc this can impact these dates and they are all subject to change. But hopefully this will give you a good jumping off point and good start. Get your camera and your best buddy, go for a walk, and enjoy this free gift from Mother Nature! xx