Brookgreen Gardens is a sculpture garden and wildlife preserve, located just south of Murrells Inlet, in South Carolina. The 9,100-acre (37 km sq) property includes several themed gardens with American figurative sculptures placed in them, the Lowcountry Zoo, and trails through several ecosystems in nature reserves on the property. It was founded by Archer Milton Huntington, stepson of railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington, and his wife Anna Hyatt Huntington to feature sculptures by Anna and her sister Harriet Hyatt along with other American sculptors. Brookgreen Gardens was opened in 1932, and is built on four former rice plantations, taking its name from the former Brookgreen Plantation.
Originally, what is now Brookgreen Gardens was four rice plantations. The plantations from south to north were The Oaks, Brookgreen, Springfield, and Laurel Hill. The current gardens and surrounding facilities lie completely on the former Brookgreen Plantation, which was owned by Joshua John Ward, the largest American slaveholder.
About 1445 works of American figurative sculpture are displayed at the Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington Sculpture Garden. Many of the works are creations of sculptress Hyatt Huntington, but other artists are also featured. Walkways and garden paths link the sculptures in their distinctive garden, fountain, or landscape settings, with vistas of the scenery surrounding them.
Winner of the South Carolina Heritage Tourism Award, the Lowcountry Trail consists of a beautiful boardwalk that crosses the hillside overlooking Mainfield, a restored rice field of the former Brookgreen Plantation.
Zoo and Plantation sites:
The Lowcountry Zoo and the Lowcountry Center are also on the property. This is where 'trekker tours' are launched into the backroads of the former plantations. Recent Archeological efforts have unearthed the foundations of several buildings at 'The Oaks' plantation. Ponds have been created from the former 'Brookgreen' plantation house sites.