Water Lilies in Black Water Swamp

Cypress Gardens: First Visit

Cypress Gardens, a 170 acre preserve in Monks Corner, was on our list of places to visit when we first visited South Carolina in January 2016. Unfortunately, it had been completely destroyed in October 2015 by the “thousand year flood.” Promises to reopen over the next three years were changed as setbacks to repairs came with Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Tropical Storm Irma in 2017 and the January snowstorm of 2018.

Water depth marker
Water depth marker – during the Thousand Year Flood of 2016 water rose to between the top two white marks on the pole

At long last Berkeley County has overcome the weather and bureaucratic delays, reopening the park in April. After giving them a few weeks to work out the kinks we’ve now had our first excursion there and fittingly, it started raining as we pulled into the parking lot.

Not deterred we started with a guided boat ride through the black water swamp to get a feel for the park layout. It was neat being down close to the water surface and another time I’d take the self-guided (paddle yourself in a small flat bottom boat) so I could stop where I wanted.

Water Lilies in Black Water Swamp
Water Lilies in Black Water Swamp

Plants are being allowed to come back on their own but the management actively is removing the thriving duck weed and creating compost from it.

Water Lily in Black Water Swamp
Water Lily in Black Water Swamp

We saw a few alligators including some under a year old, snakes and song birds. Hopefully wading birds and other wildlife will return  as the landscape heals.

Reflections in Black Water Swamp
Reflections in Black Water Swamp

A few small islands throughout the swamp had cultivated flowers. I don’t know if these somehow survived all the weather events or have been recently planted.


Walking trails around the swamp and into the woods, a butterfly house, a combo aquarium/reptile center, and numerous gardens round out the attractions.

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