Edisto Memorial Gardens
The Edisto Memorial Gardens is a place of history and beauty. In 1865, a force of less than six hundred Confederate soldiers gathered on the land that is now the Gardens. Soldiers temporarily halted the advance of the Union Army. On February 12, 1865, outflanked by a much larger force, these defenders were compelled to withdraw to Columbia. A marker honors this site.
This site was first developed in the 1920's with some azaleas on 5 acres of land. A playground was added in 1922, and a greenhouse and nursery facility in 1947. To extend the season of beauty, the first rose garden was planted in 1951. Currently, there are more than 82 beds of roses ranging from miniatures to grandiflora to climbers. The fountain was moved from the Memorial Plaza and placed at the entrance to the Gardens in 1950 to honor the brave individuals who gave their lives in 1st & 2nd World Wars, Korean War, and the Vietnam Conflict. The name was changed to the Edisto Memorial Gardens. The Gardens attract visitors from all over.
The Orangeburg Festival of Roses, one of the Southeastern Tourism Society's top twenty events, is held in Orangeburg the weekend before Mother's Day in May each year to celebrate the blooming of the City's roses.
The Edisto Memorial Gardens displays past and current award winning roses from the All-America Rose Selections. Some 4,800 plants representing at least 75 labeled varieties of roses are always on display in the Gardens. This site is also honored to be one of only 15 official test gardens in the United Sates sanctioned by the All-America Rose Selections, Inc. This test garden, which was established in 1973, is dedicated to recognizing up to five of the most desirable hybrid rose introductions each year. In 2008, The Gardens became affiliated with the American Rose Society's testing program - Award of Excellence. This program picks the top miniature and mini-flora roses in the US. The rose named 'Edisto' is one of these winners. Also in 2008, the Noisette Garden was planted. This rose is they only class of rose to be created in North America - Charleston,SC to be exact. Currently 55 varieties are on display and more added as they are found. The 200th Anniversary of the Noisette Rose will be held in August of 2011 at the Edisto Memorial Gardens.
The Children's Garden Christmas is a drive through light display coordinated by the City of Orangeburg, the Parks and Recreation Department and the Department of Public Utilities. This event features a one-half mile trail through the Edisto Memorial Gardens featuring 30 animated displays, 20 still displays and 60 lighted cherry trees. The Kids Walk with an additional 18 displays. The lighted displays vary in size from 6 feet to 20 feet tall. The Gardens are illuminated seven days a week from the Monday before Thanksgiving to New Year's Day for everyone to enjoy free of charge.
In July 1992, a major new theme was added to the Gardens with the establishment of the Horne Wetlands Park. This 2,600 foot boardwalk takes the visitor into a Tupelo/Cypress wetland that lies between the Display Garden and the North fork of the Edisto River. The Park also features a boat dock with a gazebo. The boardwalk is fully handicap accessible.
The Gardens also feature a butterfly garden, a serenity garden, and a sensory garden. Also, a beautiful terrace garden has been developed on the river side of the Arts Center. The Edisto Memorial Gardens are open seven days a week from dawn to dusk. Admission is free to the public.
Over 600,000 visitors experience the Gardens each year. Visitors come from all fifty states and some foreign countries.
The Gardens are located within the City limits on U.S. Highway 301 just four blocks from the heart of the City. The average peak Spring blooms of crabapple, azaleas, dogwood, etc. is from March 15 to April 15. Roses begin blooming soon after the middle of April and continue until the first killing frost of November. These dates may vary form year to year depending on the weather conditions. For up-to-date information, call Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce 1-800-545-6153 or the Orangeburg Department of Parks and Recreation at (803) 533-6020.