Heartbreak at the South Carolina Botanical Garden

From Friday night into Saturday morning, July 12th and 13th, the South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson was battered with more than 8 inches of rain. A deluge such as this would be harmful to any place, at any time, but there were two factors that made this event catastrophic to the garden. First, it followed ten days that had already brought 20 inches of rain, so waterways were full and the ground saturated, and second, the areas that flooded were, in many cases, newly planted.

When floodwaters began to breach the nearby dam of the duck pond, garden staff moved tons of rock to divert water away from the Hunt Cabin (circa 1820).

When floodwaters began to breach the nearby dam of the duck pond, garden staff moved tons of rock to divert water away from the Hunt Cabin (circa 1820).

Garden staff and volunteers at work on Tuesday, July 16.

Garden staff and volunteers at work on Tuesday, July 16.

In fact, the ribbon cutting for the Natural Heritage Garden, which stretches along Stevens Creek from the Hunt Cabin to the Fran Hanson Discovery Center, was held in April, less than three months ago.

When I surveyed the area Tuesday morning, garden staff and volunteers were already at work, but full restoration will require a multitude of hands and a mountain of money. Like most public gardens, this one is short of both.

What it doesn’t lack, however, is hope and heart. Though preliminary cost estimates measure the damage to infrastructure well over $200,000.00, and up to 50% of the plant collection of 1,000 native species, some very rare, have been lost, Director Patrick McMillan says, “If we all share and if everyone helps, even a small amount, we will emerge greener and better than ever.”

Floodwaters scoured the Natural Heritage Garden, tearing away plants and dumping sediment and debris.

Floodwaters scoured the Natural Heritage Garden, tearing away plants and dumping sediment and debris.

Many of the bridges that crisscross the creek were moved or damaged; one was completely lost.  The trail and irrigation system were destroyed.

Many of the bridges that crisscross the creek were moved or damaged; one was completely lost. The trail and irrigation system were destroyed.

Even now, the beauty of the Rich Cove Forest is evident.

Even now, the beauty of the Rich Cove Forest is evident.

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.  ~William Shakespeare

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. ~William Shakespeare

To follow the restoration of the South Carolina Botanical Garden, visit its Facebook page. To volunteer or donate, visit the website here.

7 thoughts on “Heartbreak at the South Carolina Botanical Garden

  1. Will

    Thanks, Marian, for checking it out in person, for posting this and helping get the word out. So much work to do…so much support needed.

    Reply
  2. Pauline

    Thank goodness, nature always has a way of healing itself, it will take a lot of effort but I’m sure eventually, what emerges will be as good as before if not better. We had devastating floods here last year where gardens were almost washed away, now you would never know anything had happened.Botanic Gardens the world over are so generous and will share their special plants with another who is in trouble, thanks to you for letting us all know.

    Reply
  3. Christina

    Water is the strongest element, this devastation is terrible. I was workign with someone who taught at Clemson last year so it seems more personal than it might have been. Climate change is causing so many problems, flooding, drought strong winds – all these are the symptons of what we humans are doing to our earth.

    Reply
  4. Barbara Miller

    We have always loved visiting the garden and were especially moved by the “Crossing Over” program that our grandson participated in, where he crossed from being a Cub Scout over to the Boy Scout Troop. It was such a beautiful setting for their ceremony. What a loss to all South Carolinians.

    Reply

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