Discover the stories within the stories Gardens


The Gardens, which Henry Middleton envisioned and began to create in 1741, reflect the grand classic style that remained in vogue in Europe and England into the early part of the 18th century. The principles of André Le Nôtre, the master of classical garden design who laid out the gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte and the Palace of Versailles were followed. Rational order, geometry and balance; vistas, focal points and surprises were all part of the garden design.

Recreating the Original

Henry Middleton's original gardens contained walkways or allées, which were planted with trees and shrubs, trimmed to appear as green walls that partitioned off small galleries, green arbors and bowling greens. Sculpture was placed at the end of long vistas and ornamental canals designed with mathematical precision. Changes in elevation and new surprises were created at every turn.

Historic Charleston Garden Tours

The Gardens evolved as subsequent generations made contributions over time. Arthur Middleton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, befriended French botanist, André Michaux, who is thought to have brought the first camellias in America to Middleton Place. Governor Henry Middleton, Arthur’s son, planted many more camellias and introduced additional plant material, including tea olives and crepe myrtles. Williams Middleton expanded the Gardens, incorporating romantic garden influences, and brought azaleas to the plantation – now over 100,000 in number. In the early 20th century, Heningham Lyons Ellett Smith, wife of Middleton descendant J.J. Pringle Smith, restored the landscape that had been largely neglected for nearly six decades following the Civil War. Her efforts led the Garden Club of America to describe Middleton Place in 1940 as the “most important and interesting garden in America.” It remains so to this day.

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