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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Charleston’s Ravenel Bridge is part of the landscape seen from the back of Magnolia Cemetery. The Cooper River runs under the bridge and creates the marsh that edges the cemetery, which is just barely above the level of the river.
A storm was predicted for the morning I was there but the clouds drifted higher before anything dramatic looking happened.
The sky was filled with fluffy white clouds and the water was still, making beautiful reflections.
Both images were taken from the more manicured short side of this rectangular man-made pond, looking towards the far end. The corner where I took the first one widens a bit into an overflow outlet where I was standing.
The second image was taken from the other end of that short side. The trees standing in the water and small island are home to many of the wading bird nests I photograph.
The old rice fields along South Carolina’s coast that are maintained as part of the wildlife management areas are connected by canals and the water flow is controlled by opening or closing a series of “trunks.”
Taken March 28, trees are budding and leafing out all around but there are still a lot of brown dead reeds from last year on the edges of the canals.
This second view is the same canal from a slightly different angle without the trunk.