TRAVEL TO CHARLESTON

It was time for another wonderful road trip to the coast of South Carolina!

This time our destination was first, to Charleston and then on to Beaufort
(that’s bu-fert), South Carolina.
(NOT to be confused  with Beaufort (pronounced bo-fert) North Carolina.

As I started writing this post and worked my way through all that we saw and did in Charleston I realized there was just TOO much to put into one post if I covered both of our stops. So, this week it is Charleston and next week will be Beaufort.

Let’s begin with one of the hundreds of beautiful gardens:

We arrived in Charleston for two nights and the weather totally cleared and warmed up. Thank goodness. The annual “Festival of Houses and Gardens” is sponsored by the Historic Charleston Foundation and runs each year for about a month. This year (you still have time to go!) it is from March 16-April 22.

Of course, garden gates are always a pleasure to see and photograph:

The Azaleas were spectacular. I hadn’t realized we would be there at their peak time of bloom, and what a nice surprise..

One of the prettiest poppies I have ever seen, in front of the Rutledge House:

Snapdragons were everywhere:

Here are my ideas and suggestions for things to do, events, places and my recommendations:

1. The tours above. (Festival of Houses and Gardens.)  There is quite a variety of garden and house tours including some trips out of the city to plantations. Take your pick! I went on The Anson Street Tour and enjoyed every minute and came away with ideas and certainly a better sense of that particular area’s history.  This particular tour page is no longer on their site as the two dates have passed! But look over the other tours.

2. The Gibbes Museum. I had been here three years ago just before it closed for a total renovation. And now it is open and better than ever and, I think, one of the stars in Charleston.

Lovely garden at the back of the museum:

Look who was here, finishing up his installation….
Patrick Dougherty. I had met him during his installation at the
North Carolina Botanical Garden.

This louder than life poster is on the main floor!

I am IN LOVE with these new mugs I bought in the gift shop!!
Unfortunately their gift shop is not yet on line…so I guess you will just have to go there to pick up some of these!

3. Eli’s Table. Very convenient to many hotels, this restaurant is right on Meeting St, next to the Gibbes. It is delightful! The service, the interior, the garden and the food are all first rate and I highly recommend it. We had been several years ago, one freezing cold evening and had liked it so wanted to try again. It did not disappoint. I had a small plate: the “Shrimp and Pancakes” along with a side of Grilled Asparagus. I’ve started to always order small plates and not an entree. And more restaurants seem to be stepping in line with this way of eating!

This is the “Shrimp and Pancakes”: Chai spiced shrimp, sweet potato pancakes, mango slaw and sherry glaze. Yes, it was delicious! And combined with the Grilled Asparagus Salad!

4. Historic Charleston Shop  I didn’t hold out much hope of this shop being anything special … and I was wrong! It has some really nice items, both for myself and for gifts. Their book selection is first rate. Many good cook books, many of them being local, Southern and regional cooking . The architecture selection was very good. And the garden section…well, there was so much to choose from I had a hard time walking away. Even the scented candle selection had some brands that were new to me and, surprise surprise, seemed very reasonable priced.

I bought this for myself. You can never have enough cookbooks, right?

5.Walk!   I put on my sneakers and walked and walked. And took pictures. And rested on stone walls. And then collapsed back in our room. Not a bad way to spend a few days!

And this week’s Friday Flowers will feature an update on my tulips!

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FRIDAY FLOWERS: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TULIPS?

I planted them on November 30th which is just about my usual time.  And all was fine…until February when we had that early spring! Suddenly the temperatures soared for days on end and the ground warmed up long before it was supposed to. The poor tulips were so confused and never had their full time of cold weather to form proper roots and s-l-o-w-l-y emerge.

This was on March 7, about two weeks earlier than usual:

 

 

These are, believe it or not, the same bed of tulips. This is 5 days later, on March 12 after our snowfall.
They do look pretty, don’t they?

 

And here they are March 18, almost a week later. They look almost normal here, except they ARE short. These are about 8-10″ high, when they should be about 16″.

These are the Tulip Menton from John Scheepers

I also planted the  White Emperor and purple Caravelle which haven’t bloomed yet.

 

And here, looking like Easter eggs (!) we have some end-of-season, off-the-rack from a local small store version of tulip! Really, they look like those plastic eggs you buy at Easter filled with small chocolates. Right?

Amazing.
Let’s just say that you get what you pay for!

 

The best for last. This is in another garden where the tulips are a bit more shaded and protected and thus have experienced a more “normal” growing season.

This is the Tulip Van Eijk from Longfield Gardens.
They are just beginning and most have not even begun to flower. So I’ll report back with (hopefully) some wonderful images of this garden. Another two weeks maybe?

Happy Spring, and I hope the weather is improving wherever you are!

WHAT I’M READING

For your reading pleasure!
Here are a few recommendations from books I have recently read (and liked!)

Chasing the Monsoon by Alexander Frater

Those of you who have known me for a while know my fascination with India. I went there, on business, many years ago. We first went to Heimtex in Frankfurt, then on to Delhi. I was working in textile factories, staying with our supplier in his family’s house in Panipat, and then had time to stay and see the sites in Delhi. To say it was fascinating is SUCH an understatement!

I think it was about a year later that The Jewel in the Crown series of books came out, and I was hooked.

I’ve remained friends with our Indian supplier..he invited us over to his daughter’s wedding a few years ago but unfortunately we had to decline the invitation.

So, in lieu of a return trip, I read. This book was recommended by a friend who lived in many different countries and cities in the Far East and is also fascinated by India. May I present:

Alex Frater, an English travel writer and journalist, was born in the Far East and has written extensively about it. In this book he sets out to follow the Indian summer monsoon as it makes its mysterious but annual trek through India. It is humorous and yet oh so serious as he travels by foot, bus, broken cars, numerous delays, dealing with the often frustratingly slow  Indian bureaucracy. It is an unusual tour of this colorful and unique land.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Another from one very famous and prolific author. This is the first book I have read by Sue Monk Kidd, her most famous being The Secret Life of Bees.
This book is set in Charleston in 1810 and follows the Grimke family. It is one of those loosely correct historical novels that , while it keeps you enthralled and wanting to continue, it is a kind of soap opera theme. I finished it, and yes, enjoyed it, but maybe….it was a bit predictable.

The Lavender Garden
by Lucinda Riley

This story goes back and forth between the contemporary Cote d’Azur and Paris of 1944 with stops in the north of England. Being a Francophile I zeroed in on the title right away! I really enjoyed it: part love story, part family heritage, part mystery and part travelogue…it had it all. A good read!

The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs

by Elaine Sciolino

The former New York Times Paris bureau chief writes about the city, and the neighborhood, she loves and knows so well. What could be better? The author shares stories…of people and of places and each one is told in vivid detail. Highly recommended!

I’ve also been ordering and reading many garden books, so I’ll plan a post on those in the near future.

I hope you will comment and let us know of any books you recommend!