Beginning in late February, then throughout March and into early April, as the flowers bloom, Charleston, SC becomes a palette of colors. Camellias boast red, white, and pink hues; vines of the wisteria weave their purple around buildings, gates. Tulip trees, a member of the magnolia family, pop in pink.
Here are five of our favorite places to see the Charleston, SC area in bloom:
1) From March 27 to 29, get a good peek at the peak blooms of azaleas, wisteria, and white dogwood at the Flowertown Festival in Summerville, long hailed as one of the top festivals in the Southeast and staged at the aptly named Azalea Park. Besides smelling the flowers: See the work of 200-plus artists; enjoy the appetizers, main courses, and desserts at the Taste of Summerville; and get the young ones involved at kids and chalk fests and a Children's Jubilee with rides. Admission to the festival is free. 843.871.9622
2) See distinctive Holy City gardens, and architecture, history and culture, during the 68th annual Festival of Houses and Gardens, March 19 through April 19. Some of the private houses and gardens date to the 18th century and the festival sponsored by the Historic Charleston Foundation affords a rare chance to see them. Particularly alluring for flower lovers should be the blooms on the Glorious Gardens tours that are but a part of the event; they're offered on March 19 and 26 and April 9 and 16. Eight to 10 private gardens are featured In Glorious Gardens; wine and tea receptions at the Nathaniel Russell House Museum also are a part of the tours. Tickets are $50. 843.722.3405
3) At 11 am each Tue, Thu, and Sat, from Feb. 10 to March 21, stroll along during the Middleton Place's Camellia Walks. Free with the cost of general admission (though it requires advance registration), the walks focus on camellias throughout the original gardens, plus a "newer" garden of the 1950s. Middleton's hundreds of bloom varieties include the 1786 Reine des Fleurs, one of the first camellias planted in America. Tours begin at the Garden Market & Nursery and last about 90 minutes. 843.556.6020
4) From November to mid-March, Magnolia Plantation’s camellia walks of its gardens, where 20,000 camellias are on display, are offered daily. The Japonica variety of camellia bloom—of which there are over 1,000 cultivars at Magnolia, more than any garden in America—are profuse from mid-January to mid-March. Ancient Camellias (pre-1900) are a specialty at Magnolia, too; it has organized and implemented a worldwide search for that variety, which is in threat of extinction. Magnolia's walks at 11 am Mon-Sat and 1:30 pm Sun also is a part of general admission, with reservation required. 843.571.1266
5) On Saturday, April 4, gather in Marion Square and downtown Charleston, SC where you're likely to see just as many flowers atop the heads of ladies as adorn the square and streets. The Charleston Hat Ladies will march in their annual Easter Promenade, which forms in Marion Square from 10:30 to 11:30 am and then strolls in small groups down Meeting, King, and Market streets from 11:30 to 12:30. Not all hats will bear flowers; some are unique because of their size and shape. But like flowers, the event's a must-see in spring.
Please be sure to contact each establishment to verify opening hours, reservation policies, health requirements, and any other variations as the month’s progress.