Skip to main content

Photos and text by Julie Moir Messervy

I recently traveled to Charleston to give my Designer’s Way talk to the Charleston Horticultural Society. From my comfortable accommodations in a townhouse on Church Street, I walked the streets of the beautiful historic downtown. Wherever you look, there’s a garden—in the many small parks; on the front, side, or corner of a property; in flowerboxes, window displays, and even on the front door itself.

One of the towering Live Oaks in Washington Square Park with its magnificent branching structure and cooling open shade.


A peek through an ancient iron gate reveals a little house set deep into a forested garden.


Make sure to follow the Gateway Walk, a path that takes visitors from St. Philip’s Episcopal Church through the Circular Congregational Church cemetery, past the Gibbes Museum of Art courtyard, on a narrow walkway like this one between charming residential gardens, terminating at the west cemetery of the St. John’s Episcopal Church on Archdale Street.


Side-by-side Easter-egg-colored townhouses with their black shutters form a stately trio.


A front terrace doubles as a drive court in this modern adaptation of a traditional Charleston home.


Visitors can peek through the wrought-iron gated entries. This side yard features a brick-edged lawn panel that offers breathing room to the adjacent white-columned porch. Beyond, under the low arching rose arbor, lies a secret garden.

The tiniest pass-through between buildings works as both driveway and stroll garden.


This concrete walkway acts both as sidewalk and “cobble” apron into the brick drive court beyond.


Gardens everywhere: beautifully planted window boxes and front doors delight.

My thanks to Horticultural Director Kyle Barnette for organizing the event and picking me up at the airport, to Susan Marus for a lovely dinner and enjoyable morning spent touring me through the city, and to Jackie Joye for driving me to the airport. I’m so glad to be returning to Charleston next Leap Year for my nephew’s wedding.