Visitors to Charleston who join my walking tours of the historic city are enjoying the first blooms of the Magnolia Grandiflora, or Southern Magnolia. These grand trees add greatly to scenic gardens and houses around our coastal city, and the blooms have a subtle, but distinctive aroma reminiscent of linen. The big white blooms are often used as centerpieces in historic houses, featuring their large, puffy white petals and colorful interior carpels. It is a wonderful experience to press the face into a fresh Magnolia bloom and enjoy its fresh fragrance.
Here is a visitor who came into my garden today, our state butterfly, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. The species is common throughout the Southeast, and is one of the most eye-catching butterflies, not only because of its vibrant color, but the fact that it is typically much larger than most other butterflies that live in or migrate through this area. This particular creature had a wing span of nearly 6 inches, and when it first flew past my face, I though it was a bird. They love the plant Lantana, which does very well in gardens around Charleston.
I take my walking tours down to scenic White Point Garden, where we get to see the Keokuk gun on display – a cannon that fought for both sides during the Civil War. The gun was aboard the US warship Keokuk firing at Charleston’s defenders in Fort Sumter when it was sunk by cannon fire and sank in shallow water with its gun turrets exposed. Charleston engineers pried open the turrets and retrieved the gun, mounting it to fire back on the fleet it with which it came.