One of the best kept secrets in South Carolina is Brookgreen Gardens. This antebellum estate setting, now the home of outdoor statuary, towering live oaks and pristine gardens has a history dating back to 1931. Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, founded Brookgreen Gardens, a non-profit 501(c) (3) garden museum, to preserve the native flora and fauna and display objects of art within that natural setting.
Brookgreen Gardens is a National Historic Landmark with the most significant collection of figurative sculpture, in an outdoor setting, by American artists in the world. Brookgreen has the only zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums on the coast of the Carolinas.

I grew up less than 20 miles from Brookgreen Gardens. In the mid 1960's, my mother would retreat to this quiet setting to reflect and heal spiritually following the untimely death of my father. Finding a special place of both natural and artistic beauty she later made this place a regular destination for her family - my sister, brother and me. The statues towered above us and the trees stretched out above us, offering us inspiration and shelter for all of the maladies of the often noisy and mundane chores of life. I grew up in the embrace of these gardens and there is no place I know that captures such a rich resource of art (poetry, sculpture, architecture, landscape), nature (200 year old oaks, giant azalea plants with palm size flowers, Spanish moss, native flora and fauna) and history (tales of the developing South, rice plantations, early trade, the beginning of ethnic diversity).

One of Anna Hyatt's pieces that resides in my mind is "Jaguar." One of a pair of sculptures in bronze, this depiction of a life size beast, poised to jump always captured my attention as a child. It still does.