Located on U.S. 301 in Orangeburg, The Edisto Memorial Gardens is rated as one of the top 20 visitor attractions in South Carolina by the Southeast Tourism Society.
The gardens sit on historic ground. In early 1865, approximately six hundred Confederate soldiers gathered on the land to defend the Edisto River Bridge from advancing Union troops. Occupying rifle pits, these soldiers temporarily halted the Yankees. However, on Feb. 12, 1865, outflanked by a much larger force, these defenders were compelled to withdraw for Columbia.
This area along the Edisto River, so gallantly defended by its natives, was no more than a marshy swamp overgrown with brush and trash. Through the years, it has been transformed into a floral paradise.Andrew C. Dibble is credited with the vision of the Gardens as he planned and developed this beautiful place.
In the mid 1920's the first azaleas were planted on a five-acre plot of cleared land near the river. A city playground was built nearby in 1922. Green houses and nursery facilities were added in 1947, and to extend the season of beauty, a rose garden was planted in January 1951.
The Edisto Memorial Gardens now cover 175 acres, complete with azaleas, camellias, roses and other flowering trees and plants among giant, centuries-old cypress and other varieties of native trees. It also contains several special gardens, parks and features (listed below and on following pages). More than 600,000 people visit each year.
The average peak spring blooms of azaleas, crabapple, dogwood, Japanese Yoshino Cherries, wisteria and other types of greenery are from mid-March to mid-April depending on weather conditions. Roses begin to blossom soon after the middle of April and continue until the first frost in November.
The Edisto Memorial Gardens are open every day from dawn to dusk free of charge for the public to enjoy. For more details, call the City of Orangeburg Parks and Recreation Department at (803) 533-6020.
American Garden Rose Selections (AGRS)The City of Orangeburg has now become affiliated with American Garden rose Selections (AGRS) to grow and evaluate roses from USA, Canada and Europe. This test garden will be used to select winning roses that can grow under minimal care and reward the grower with beautiful roses. Winners from these trials will be displayed in the main rose garden after the two year evaluation ends.
American Rose SocietyAward of Excellence Test GardenEdisto Memorial Gardens became affiliated with the American Rose Society in 2008. At the time it was granted an Award of Excellence Test Garden (AOE). Through the affiliation, Edisto Gardens grows and judges miniature and mini-flora varieties of roses. After a two-year trial period, winners are announced and given the "Royal E" or Award of Excellence. This is a national honor coveted by many rose hybridizers.
Noisette GardenA joint effort between the City of Orangeburg Parks & Recreation Department, South Carolina Rose Society and Garden Club of South Carolina, this bed displays 57 varieties of Noisette Roses. These are the only roses that can trace their beginning to the western world. In fact, it was done in Charleston, South Carolina. This class of roses gave way to modern roses.
Andrew Berry Terrace GardenThis picturesque area is located behind the Fine Arts Center. With its wrought-iron patio tables, landscaping, a fountain and a wonderful view of the river, the garden is a favorite place for receptions and many other social activities.
Butterfly GardenA special oasis with appealing nectar plants used to attract the beautiful butterflies in South Carolina. This area provides the winged creatures with food, water, shelter and a place to reproduce.
Centennial ParkThis classic, formal park was added to the Edisto Memorial Gardens in 2001. The construction of the park, over a four million gallon, underground water storage structure, was largely funded by the City of Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities in celebration of their 100 years of operation. The grounds, maintained by the City of Orangeburg Parks and Recreation Department, feature an upper and lower plaza. The upper plaza consists of brick pavers, raised planters, park benches and a spectacular fountain with a palmetto tree sculpture in the center. The lower plaza contains brick pavers and a gazebo. The two plazas are connected with steps that also serve as seating for special events in the gazebo.
Disc Golf CourseOne of several active-type facilities in the Edisto Memorial Gardens, this course is designed just like regular golf featuring tees, signage, target areas and obstacles. Opened in 2002 on Andrew Dibble Street across from the City Boat Landing, the disc golf course offers an excellent opportunity for fun and exercise for the whole family.
Horne Wetlands ParkIn July 1992, this unique facility added another element to the Edisto Memorial Gardens. The wetlands park boardwalk is located between the rose garden and the north fork of the Edisto River. It features a 2,600-foot boardwalk, observation decks, a boat dock and two shelters. Both wildlife and plant life can be viewed in their native setting from the boardwalk trail. Future plans call for the establishment of a water garden to display aquatic plants, a self-guided interpretive tour and for the park to be extended to the west side of the river.
Memorial FountainIn 1950, a fountain was placed at the main entrance to the Gardens in memory of soldiers who died in the two world wars as well as Korea and Vietnam. In 1958, the name of the area was changed from Edisto Gardens to Edisto Memorial Gardens.
Mountain BrookWater from a man-made mountain brook cascades down over stones, creating two waterfalls. The head of the brook is located across from the original park office on Garden Drive with the lower pool being located just off Riverside Drive.
Orangeburg County Fine Arts CenterThe old River Pavilion, now known as the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center, houses the Arts Council of Orangeburg County. A Terrace Garden, which overlooks the Edisto River, was added to the facility in 1996. The Center offers performances, programs and classes in the visual, performing and literary arts. The Center also is responsible for scheduling art exhibits in the Lusty Gallery, which is located on the second floor. A variety of artwork is on display, including paintings, mosaics, pottery, woodcarving, quilts, and miniatures.
The Center, located at 649 Riverside Dr., is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. (803) 536-4074.
Sensory GardenThe city and the Pilot Club of Orangeburg developed this beautiful garden for visually impaired visitors. The garden features plants with distinctive textures and fragrances, which are described on plaques with English lettering and braille. The grounds also hold a water garden with a waterfall and beautiful mosaic works of art set in the sidewalk.
Spray ParkThe Spray Park features a 6,000 square-foot spray pad with spray equipment, rest rooms, concession area, picnic shelter, a traditional playground and beautiful landscaping. The park is open daily from early May through August and weekends only in the month of September. There is a minimal admission fee.(803) 533-6020.
Water WheelThis novel attraction is reminiscent of the rice paddy irrigation wheels of the Orient. It not only adds interest, but also since its installation in 1941, has performed the important function of supplying water to the nearby pond. The water wheel is the most photographed feature in the Edisto Memorial Gardens.
Works of SculptureVarious pieces of sculpture are located throughout the Edisto Memorial Gardens. A sculpture of five ladies is located in the memorial fountain at the main entrance. Beautiful herons are sculpted on the signage on each side of the main entrance. A large rose plant sculpture is located in the fountain at the rear entrance. Works of sculpture also are located in the Butterfly Garden. Another rose sculpture is positioned in the Rose Display Garden. Three pieces of sculpture are located near the bridges at the pond. A work entitled "Making Memories" depicts young children at play. "Power of a Rose" was added in 2006 in the Main Display Rose Garden. The sculpture depicts a child giving a rose to a lady.
Angel of HopeLocated just off Garden Drive, a granite base and bronze monument is dedicated to children who have lost their lives. It is a place of memory and healing for parents, family members and friends. This Angel of Hope is the 100th in existence in the United States and the only one in South Carolina. The first one was erected in Salt Lake City, Utah and the idea for the sculpture came from the book titled "The Christmas Box" by Richard Paul Edward of Utah. The sculpture sits on a granite base with the bronze Angel of Hope placed on the base. Behind it is the Wall of Love with names engraved on granite blocks. Leading up to the wall is the Walk of Love and smaller granite bricks border it with names engraved on them as well.
Veterans' Memorial ParkThis area is dedicated to veterans of Orangeburg County and was developed by the City of Orangeburg. It features a 25-foot high granite obelisk that resembles the Washington Monument. Behind the obelisk are six verticle granite markers featuring each branch of the military. Also, there are granite markers representing wars in which the United States has been involved. Seven flags surround the park. Six flags representing the branches of the military and one for POW/MIAs.
Summers Memorial ParkThis park is a three-fourths mile fitness and walking trail on a natural wooded block located on Summers Avenue. It features a walking trail and 12 exercise/fitness areas along the trail. Benches and trash receptacles are located throughout the park to provide rest areas and eating locations next to the stream that runs through the park. A natural gazebo allows for sheltered seating, a cool spot to end your walk. A water fountain provides a cool drink for both man and beast.
Boat LandingThis area was just renovated to allow for both motorized and non-motorized watercraft to gain access to the Edisto River. The landing for the motorized watercraft has been extended to allow access at all river levels. Several yards down is the canoe/kayak takeout. This is new and allows users to pull their craft out and place them on a grassed area until they continue their journey.