Wow, what about this weather?! Two weeks ago we were freezing and wishing that spring would just come on. Now we seem to have skipped right over it! This morning as I was driving to work at Swan Lake, I took a small detour to see how Camellia Island, our main winter botanical attraction, was doing. A few of the blooms are still vibrant, but most are fading, making way for the spring flowers that are budding in such profusion this week. Japanese magnolias are everywhere, which in Sumter, is a more reliable indicator than Punxsutawney Phil that if spring isn’t actually here, it’s definitely coming…soon. Everything to its season!
Sometimes I wonder what Mr. Hamilton Bland would think, if he could see today what has become of the “little fishing hole” that he began to work on in 1927, meaning for it to be a private retreat. Swan Lake today is a 120-acre wonderland of tranquility, the largest city park, a botanical garden and bird sanctuary with a growing nationwide reputation. With the continued help of the Heath family and organizations such as the Friends of Swan Lake and the Master Gardeners, the park has continued to expand and improve continuously over the years. It now features sculptures by Zan Lee Wells and others, and the towering “Recovery,” the first outdoor installation by renowned artist Grainger McKoy. A butterfly garden and a chocolate garden have added to guests’ enjoyment in recent years. The most recent addition has been “Swan Walk,” a series of illustrated plaques featuring information about all eight swan species.
The famed Japanese Iris are still a couple of months away from blooming, but there’s lots to see now, so why not make an early spring visit as the gardens burst into life? Azaleas and dogwoods will be in bloom soon, along with the many other flowering trees. And of course, the birds (swans, geese, ducks, anhingas and all) are always in season! The park is open daily from 7:30 a.m. until dusk. For more information, please visit our website here. Winter is over—it’s time to get your spring on!!!