Tour area's most beautiful gardens with S.C. Garden Club

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Posted: Monday, April 9, 2012 6:00 am

Recently noted by Southern Living magazine in the March edition of the magazine in the Best Gardens in the South section, the City of Conway will soon particpate in the S.C. Garden Club’s annual tour, which comes to town April 14 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The tours started March 24 with 138 visitors to gardens in Holly Hill, Santee, Bowman and Allendale, before heading to Hilton Head Plantation April 1.

It will conclude April 20 with a luncheon finale at the Moore Farms in Lake City, which will also include a cooking demonstration and book signing with University of South Carolina First Lady Patricia Moore-Pastides.

Southern Living called Conway “a calm oasis,” which is certainly the case within the six gardens that will be open for the tour.

They are the home of the late Sara and Hoyt McMillan (now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Marshall McMillan) on Kingston Lake Drive; Dr. and Mrs. Mike Ellis on Fifth Avenue; Mr. and Mrs. Buck Cutts on Elm Street; Dr. and Mrs. Hal Holmes on Lakeside Drive; Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cutts on Dunn Shortcut; and the Bryan House at 606 Main St., owned by the Horry County Historical Society.

The Garden Club of South Carolina is sponsoring the tours as a fundraiser.

Camellia Garden Club member Janice Cutts said she and fellow Conwayites Glenda Sweet, treasurer of the S.C. Garden Club this year, and Joanne Loggins began assisting state officials this past April to make sure the tour is a success in this area.

They suggested six Conway area gardens for people who want to see Conway at its best. The state gardeners liked all six.

Individual day tickets are $15, if purchased in advance. They increase to $20 on the days of the tours.

More than two full weeks before the Conway tour Cutts said officials had sold about 50 day tickets, but they expect most of the tickets to be sold at the Bryan House on the day of the tour.

The Bryan House will also be open for guided tours for $5.

The first 75 visitors to the Bryan House will receive a free shrub, compliments of Southern Living.

There will be two docents at each garden to answer questions, but the tour is basically self-guided, which allows people to decide where to start and stop and how much time to spend in each garden.

Cutts says nearby gardens at Brookgreen or Magnolia gardens are certainly beautiful.

“We’re looking for yards that a lot of people can get ideas from and say, ‘Oh My gosh, I can go back home and work really hard and my yard could look like this.”

The Conway yards were selected, based on offering visitors a variety. There are walled gardens, generational gardens, a country yard that is an animal sanctuary of sorts, and a woodland-type garden.

Sure to be among the prettiest is the Bryan House where Conway’s master gardeners, the Ivy Garden Club and the Camellia Garden Club have teamed up to plant and maintain the grounds. The Camellia Club has created a shade garden with hydrangeas, azaleas and more. The Ivy Club has created a sunshine garden, filled with roses, crepe myrtle, violas and Johnny Jump-ups.

The master gardeners filled an area beside the tank house with an herb garden, which is very popular with butterflies.

Cutts thinks South Carolina Garden Club officials made a good choice coming to Conway.

“I don’t think there’s any place that’s prettier than Conway is in the spring,” she said.

Conway City Council is excited about the tour coming to Conway and about the city’s mention in Southern Living.

“I think we’ve always celebrated spring in the City of Conway, and our beautiful gardens and landscape overall year round, but to have a statewide focus placed on Conway is certainly a delight,” said Conway Mayor Alys Lawson.

Also, she said, a mention in a popular magazine can’t be anything but a plus for Conway.

“It gives you a tremendous opportunity to reach a market that might not know that Conway is even here,” she said.

Lawson was also appreciative of the Conway homeowners who have been generous enough to donate their time and effort to the event.

Docent-guided tours of the Bryan House will be held at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on April 14. Tickets can be purchased at the door. Tours are limited to 15 people each.

The Horry County Historical Society invites guests to step back into history for a glimpse of what life was like in Conway in the early 20th century. This beautifully- furnished old house has stories to tell!

Cutts is especially hopeful that the Follow the Blooms tour will being people into Conway, who usually just get a glimpse of it passing through to area beaches.

Cutts doesn’t expect Conway’s early blooming azaleas and dogwoods to hurt the Follow the Blooms experience. She’s expecting lots of greenery and imaginative gardens to give people a serene day communing with nature and annuals to pick up the color.

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