The Famous Garden Of Louis LeConte

LeConte Woodmanston Plantation-Riceboro Georgia

We all have our hiking preferences and mine just happens to be exploring the woods and swamps. Preparing for a day trip with a desire to find a new area to explore I hit the google search bar for trails in coastal Georgia. The search results came upon the first botanical garden in the state.

The photos on the website showed volunteers renovating the gardens that were established back in the 1800s. The camellias lining the nature trails were said to be of threatened collections. World travelers of the past visited the gardens.

As noted in the London’s Gardener’s Magazine in 1832 by Alexander Gordon:

“The garden of Louis LeConte is decidedly the richest in bulbs I have ever seen, and their luxuriance would astonish those who have only seen them in the confined state in which we are obliged to grow them in this country.”

In the 1970s the site of the rice plantation and gardens was rediscovered at added to the National Register of Historic Places, and sixty-four acres were donated to the Garden Club of Georgia.

Woodmanston Plantation historical marker

The next morning I headed out to find this treasure. According to the map, it should be about a forty-five-minute drive. I could not find an exact street address but planned to rely on direction signs once arriving in the general area. The GPS quickly informed me as I turned on to the first dirt road that I was off the chart.

Unpaved road to LeConte Woodmanston Plantation

The next sign led me down a road that looked barely traveled and had standing water on both sides.

At least I knew I was getting closer. Approaching a cleared area I could see standing structures. But something just didn’t seem right.

abandoned building in the woods
abandoned building in the woods

Just past this was a cleared area with an information panel and more buildings. A lady parked in a car waved an invitation to enter. I must say I was relieved to see another person out in this obviously abandoned place. She was super nice, informative, and the unofficial groundskeeper. Apparently, there was an effort made to restore the gardens in 2010 but it did not work out. The website was never taken offline and as a result, here I was.

The gardens were overgrown but one could only imagine the creative beauty that must have been back in the day.

The information panel where the old home stood was faded. There were brick pillars to mark the homesite.

Other small wooden structures of better days were scattered around.

The boardwalk heading through Bulltown Swamp to Floodgate Pond was unsteady. The narrow path was meant for a good pair of boots, which is not what I was wearing. I went just far enough to see the blackwater and turned around. Lots of critters live in these swamps and the mating season for the alligators is about to start. Pairing up with one was not part of the days plan.

The day worked out fine, it could never be disappointing to walk the grounds of a historic property with an interesting past. I grabbed a brochure on the way out and of course it was dated July 2010. One of the nice things about stumbling upon a place like this is that connecting to nature is so easy, no noise at all.

LeConte Woodmanston Foundation 2010

LeConte Woodmanston information board, brochures and trails

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you are enjoying the scenes of coastal Georgia and South Carolina 🙂


5 thoughts

  1. The name LeConte caught my attention. My wife went to LeConte junior high school in Hollywood. I did some research and found Louis LeConte who you mentioned in your post relative to the botanical gardens, ended up in California. He hooked up with John Muir in exploring Yosemite Valley, visiting there on 10 expiditions – he got sick and died there on the tenth one. His son John was also an avid supporter of Yosemite and was the second president of the Sierra Club. The school was built in the 1920s, but I don’t know when it was officially named after him. The LeConte family had a great influence on both coasts.

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