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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Myrtle Beach: The Day that Never Ends, Part 2: Bookgreen Gardens

It was now time for our second adventure for the day, after a quick lunch at Subway and a glorious half hour spent cooling down in the air conditioning, we drove into the Brookgreen Gardens. This is an oasis created in 1930 by two adjoining rice plantation owners turned philanthropists. They wanted a space for local indigenous flowers, southeastern animal conservation as well as a home for some of the best American Sculpture. The Brookgreen Gardens are famous for the sculpture which are unrivaled by any other sculpture collection. There are over 725 individual statues throughout the gardens representing 300 artists.

On the drive in we pulled up to a small parking area. There was a massive sculpture of a man trying to get his horse to calm. The dynamism of the suspended animation was awesome. I love sculpture for its 3D energy. We had to get out and walk up to the work to get a closer look; stunning and a great introduction into the space.

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We had to drive quite a ways to get to the sculpture gardens, which is what we came for. I didn’t know how GIGANTIC this place was. Everywhere you look is a trail and everything looked so interesting. I just wanted to wander around and explore but there was limited time and therefore we had to be efficient. We finally made it to the main garden a series of interlinking endless paths through the most beautiful gardens.

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What I was expecting was some cool plants and a few statues. That’s what’s funny about expectations sometimes they can be VERY wrong. Instead what I experienced were the most beautiful statues, some of the most beautiful settings, since forever. The only thing that could compare are the statues of Europe. I was literally running from statue to statue, we wanted to see them all, and I was dragging my jaw far behind me. Around each bend, around every corner, at the end of every pathway was one exquisite work after another. I simply cannot gush enough, this place was a GEM. And to think when we were sitting in Subway, hot, tired, worn out and we almost talked ourselves out of coming.

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THE YOUNG DIANA by ANNA HYATT HUNTINGTON
REACHING by EVANGELOS WILLIAM FRUDAKIS


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GREAT DANES BY ANNA HYATT HUNTINGTON

Although the focus in these gardens are the statues you have to appreciate the gorgeous settings that the flowers and plants provide. Each setting offered a unique living backdrop to every single statue, many of them using water which I adore. Not one was alike, the gardens seemed to take their inspiration from the statue. These gardens were the best I have ever seen and I was in AWE!

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ALLIGATOR BENDER by NATHANIAL CHOATE

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It was difficult to pick a favorite but when we walked up to a intimately small tinkling water fountain showcasing flights of birds I was in love. Peace Fountain, by Sandy Scott was beautiful. The bronze gently tinged with greens blues and purples along with the feathers of flight stole my heart. Of course its birds, and I just love my birds.

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PEACE FOUNTAIN by SANDY SCOTT

It was now 2:00 in the afternoon and I the heat was getting to me. Mr. Kingfisher is used to the heat, he works outdoors, and even though I grew up in Michigan with this humidity the past 8 years in LALA land have spoiled me. I just cannot take this heat, it is OPRESSIVE on my body and soul. I was coved with sweat and needed water so we swung into the cafĂ©. The water of course was exactly what I needed but what we also stumbled upon a fantastic little friend. By holding crackers or seeds the clerk behind the counter was telling us that you could HOLD a wild titmouse. We just had to try for it. Both Mr. Kingfisher and I got to get the little guy perched for just a moment on our hand. They were fast and getting a photo was hard but what an INCREDBILE experience. That’s two birds I got to hold this week!

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I went just expecting a gorgeous sculpture garden only to be amazed that there was more. There are hundreds of trails where you can explore the land. There is the lowland History and Wildlife Preserve where you can learn about the rice crops, slave labor and local economy over the past 200 years. And there is a natural habitat zoo. Sensory overload, the horrible (111 degree heat) and with a limited timeframe out we had to pick and choose what we could do. So we headed with a plan toward the zoo… and then we got distracted.

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You know even the best laid plans go awry and when you pull into the zoo parking lot and see a butterfly house, you just have to go. I think it’s a rule or something. Regardless for only $2 dollars how could we not play in a house full of these little fairies. Apparently they only do tours on the half hour clock. Each tour was a half hour and since we were there right in the middle of a tour, and since the tour ended early we just opted to go in for fifteen minutes. We were after all in a hurry.

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RED SPOTTED PURPLE (left)
WHITE PEACOCK (right)


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BANDED ORANGE (upper left)
MONARCH (lower left)
ORANGE LONGWING (right)


We thought fifteen minutes would be enough but OH HOW MUCH FUN WE HAD. Thankfully the volunteers let us go a good fifteen minutes past when they were supposed to escort us out. I love how conversation and a shared passion for beautiful butterflies can create a bond that bends the rules a little. You all know how I love a bent rule!! And the butterflies they were just gorgeous!!!!

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COMMON BUCKEYE

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ATALA HAIRSTREAK (right)
MALACHITE (left)


It wasn’t just too hot for us humans. The butterflies apparently don’t like the heat as well. Many were hiding under tree leaves and not out in the sun. Of course the light is mandatory for a good photo so it made getting good pictures a little tricky. I had several favorites but one of those was the Black Swallowtail. Not only did I love this butterfly because it was so gosh darn gorgeous but I also loved it because it sat, perfectly, often for photos; a perfect little model.

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BLACK SWALLOWTAIL

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BLACK SWALLOWTAIL

Since the butterflies ate a half hour from our already tight schedule we had to hustle through the zoo. Of course it wasn’t a super big zoo at all so hustling was a lot easier. The first cool area we entered was an encaged swamp. This bird aviary was gigantic. The zoo really does an amazing job of not only getting the habitat extraordinarily perfect but also making the enclosures huge. LIKE HUGE HUGE. Like hundreds of trees and thousands of feet for just this one aviary. It made it a little bit more difficult to find the birds but of course I loved it. Finding birds in an aviary is much easier than finding them in the wild for sure!

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BLACK CROWNED NIGHT HERONS – LEFT MALE – RIGHT JUVENILE

The next exhibit housed a large indoor, outdoor habitat with about 8 otters that we could find. I loved that the indoor habitat allowed you to see the little guys zipping through the water, they are so fast! But I also loved how the outdoor habitat allowed the otters to play in the natural habitat. Pretty otters, lots of play, lots of fun and a ton of enjoyment to watch.

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THE OTTERS WERE ADORABLE

The zoo animals weren’t the only ones out to play. Again and again all day we kept running into the largest grasshopper I have ever seen. I am not sure what kind it is but literally the abdomen was as long as my hand from the tips of my finger to the bottom of my palm. Gross and awesome at the same time. All I kept thinking when taking these photos was ‘please please don’t jump on me!’ I would have totally freaked out.

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Another constant sighting was the Southern Fox Squirrel. Their chattering was a sound seemingly going on forever. And they were GIGANTIC as well. I am not sure why Myrtle Beach is housing such giant species. At first I thought it was some kind of fox.

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SOUTHERN FOX SQUIRREL

Our last exhibit of the day was a few bird aviaries with Raptors. These birds are wild birds that were brought in with injuries. The ones that couldn’t be released became permanent guests of the zoo. My favorite thing about the cages was that some of them had PHOTOGRAPHY HOLES. Yup that’s right. Normally I am fighting to get a good photo through the mesh screen that encloses cages at zoos and wildlife parks. This is the first time however I have seen a zoo help out the photographer. It was just big enough for my lens. HURRAH my day is now perfect!

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PHOTOGRAPHERS HOLE IN THE SCREEN

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BALD EAGLE (left)
BARRED OWL (right)


Seeing as it was now 3 we had to leave, I had a date with my little eight year old nephew and his mom at the aquarium. ZIPPITY do dah my day is just half over.

3 comments:

Jennifer Arens said...

ok so now I want to move to a Carolina....thanks...

Jess said...

Looking forward to the next time I am on the east coast. Maybe I can convince my mom to take a road trip to this with me. I bet she'd love it. Radke too :)

paul peggy zeus said...

What a cool place to visit! Love all the butterflies!

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