Please join the Desert Botanical Garden Patrons Circle on Southern Sojourn: Springtime in the Lowcountry, a journey to the historic and enchanting cities of Charleston and Savannah and the famed tidal lowcountry of the southeastern United States. Memorable meals and true Southern hospitality await you, as do bucolic plantations and the rich garden culture of this highly original part of the country.
Our tour will begin in charming and exquisitely preserved Charleston, a visual feast of antebellum architecture, cobblestone streets, and a skyline filled with over 400 church steeples (the city’s moniker is Holy City.)
In Charleston, we will have pre-opening access and curator-led tours of two extraordinary house museums, the Aiken-Rhett House and the Nathanial Russell House, both owned and managed by the Historic Charleston Foundation.
Louisa Cameron, a leading figure of the city’s garden society and author of two renowned garden books, including The Private Gardens of Charleston, will lead us on a walk through the oldest residential section of Charleston and provide an insider’s narrative and botanical commentary on the spectacular gardens along our historic route.
In addition, we will take a scenic drive along the Ashley River to the area’s most magnificent plantations: Drayton Hall (1742), the first fully executed example of Palladian architecture in North America and an icon of American history, design, and historic preservation; Magnolia Plantation and Gardens (1676), featuring the oldest public gardens in America; and Middleton Place (1705), home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens. The Garden Club of America has called the 65 acres “the most important and most interesting garden in America.”
At each plantation we will be led on private tours by directors, curators, and lead horticulturalists. At Magnolia Plantation, we will meet with Joseph McGill, scholar and founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, an organization dedicated to the identification and preservation of extant slave dwellings, will discuss the plantation’s African American history and guide us to the cabins once inhabited by plantation slaves.
Our Charleston experience will also feature the Gibbes Museum of Art and its premier collection of over 10,000 works of fine art, principally American works, many with a connection to Charleston or the South. At the Gibbes, we will have a private, curator-led tour of an installation by artist Patrick Dougherty and an exhibition of South Carolina landscape painter West Fraser’s work. After the tour, scholar Dale Rosengarten will provide a presentation on Gullah sweetgrass basket making traditions and we will have an opportunity to meet some of the area’s accomplished basket makers.
In the evening, we will board a boat for a sunset tour of Charleston Harbor that will include historical commentary, refreshing libations, and a special talk by Virginia Beach, a distinguished writer and conservationist, who will speak about area efforts to protect the natural resources and traditional landcapes of the coast.
During our stay in Charleston, we will dine at a number of spectacular, award-winning restaurants, including Peninsula Grill and the Long Room of McCrady’s, legendary Chef Sean Brock’s venerated restaurant, located in a historic building from 1778 that initially housed McCrady’s Tavern. In 1791, the Tavern was the venue for a festive 30-course dinner prepared especially for President George Washington. (Washington actually did eat here!)
After four glorious nights and three full days in Charleston, we will embark for Savannah, stopping at noteworthy sites along the way, including the massive Angel Oak Tree, estimated to be more than 500 years old and the historic Old Sheldon Church ruins. We will stop to enjoy lunch in the picturesque town of Beaufort, where we will tour two private gardens.
In the late afternoon we will arrive in Savannah, a captivating city developed along the banks of the Savannah River and distinguished as the first planned municipality in America. Arriving in 1733, General James Oglethorpe provided the town with a design vision that reflected social equity and civic virtue and featured broad streets laid out in a grid with eight blocks surrounding each of many public squares. His extraordinary concept is still visible today in Savannah’s 22 remaining public squares. The following day, we will tour these lush and lively historic squares and the remarkable homes and gardens that surround them.
In Savannah, we will be led on a walk through many of the city’s historic squares by Robin Williams, Professor and Chair of the Department of Architectural History, Savannah College of Art & Design. Williams will discuss Oglethorpe’s Plan for Savannah. The tour will also include visits to a private garden and two house museums — the Owens-Thomas House, featuring a garden designed by renowned landscape architect Clermont Lee, and the Andrew Low House.
Our final day of the trip, the tour of Savannah will continue with E.G. Daves Rossell, Professor in the Department of Architectural History, Savannah College of Art & Design. Along our route we’ll pass through the classic lowcountry community of Thunderbolt, the former slave village of Sandfly, and a mid-century development, Wymberly. With luck we’ll catch the very last of the camellia bloom. Our tour will include:
Bonaventure Cemetery. This approximately 100-acre historically significant and hauntingly beautiful cemetery reflects the changing views on death and dying in the Victorian era. As death became more romanticized and ritualized during this period, cemeteries, like Bonaventure, became lush, beautiful “cities of the dead.”
Barrow’s Plantation at Wormsloe, the home of Craig Barrow III, a ninth generation owner of the property, and his wife Diana. The Barrows have graciously agreed to open their garden to us. The property has been in Barrow’s family since 1736.
Our farewell supper will take place at the very special Elizabeth on 37th. Elizabeth Terry’s award-winning Southern American restaurant, set in an elegant, circa-1900 Thomas Square mansion, is considered the gold standard for Savannah dining. Musical entertainment will be provided by the notable jazz talent Jackson Evans and his band.
$5,794.00 Double Occupancy
$7,133.00 Single Occupancy
Trip participation is on a first-come, first-served basis. Trip registration is a three-step process.
NOTE: A deposit refund cannot be guaranteed and is possible ONLY if your space can be resold. Travel cancellation insurance is highly recommended, however, DO NOT PURCHASE TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE OR MAKE ANY AIRLINE RESERVATIONS UNTIL NOTIFIED.
NOTE: Havana can be a difficult destination for people with mobility issues. Walking surfaces are broken and uneven and stairs are plentiful. Please consider this when making a decision to participate.
The itinerary is subject to change. The final itinerary will be provided closer to the time of trip departure.
Pricing is based on a minimum of 20 paying patrons. Accommodations are based on double occupancy. Tour includes: Luxurious rooms at the French Quarter Inn in Charleston, SC and deluxe rooms at the Andaz Savannah in Savannah. GA; three lunches and four dinners with wine and beer, and daily breakfasts; special garden and museum tours; all honoraria, gratuities, and entrance fees; private luxury bus transportation throughout the trip; all pre-tour emailings; the expertise of DBG Director Ken Schutz; and the services of various specialized guides and Resonant Journeys staff.
Tour price does not include: Round-trip airfare to Charleston and from Savannah, and meals not specified in the itinerary.
NOTE: In addition, a tax-deductible donation of $250 per person is required for trip participation and must be paid by separate check to the Desert Botanical Garden by March 1, 2017. Please mail the donation check to Resonant Journeys at the address listed on the trip registration form.