Edisto Memorial Gardens
Combining history with natural and man-made beauty creates the Edisto Memorial Gardens. Historically on February 12, 1865, six hundred Confederate soldiers temporarily halted the advancement of the Union Army on what is now known as Edisto Memorial Gardens. A bronze marker across from the Edisto River commemorates this site.
Adding to the natural beauty, Andrew Dibble, first Superintendent of Parks, planted 5 acres of azaleas in the 1920's. A playground was added in 1922 (Albergotti) and a greenhouse with nursery facilities in 1947. To entice visitors and extend the blooming season, the first rose was planted in 1951. Edisto Memorial Rose Garden currently contains 79 beds of roses representing rose classes from miniatures to Old Garden Roses. The 'Lady Fountain' that serves as the entrance to the Gardens was originally on Memorial Plaza (The Square) and moved to its current location in 1950. The Gardens got a name change to Edisto Memorial Gardens to honor the brave individuals who gave their lives in the 1st. and 2nd. World Wars, Korean War, and the Vietnam Conflict from the Orangeburg area.
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.
Currently Edisto Memorial Gardens displays some 4,800 rose plants representing at least 120 labeled varieties. Some of these are past winners from All America Rose Selections; while others are newer introductions. For nearly 40 years Edisto Memorial Gardens was only one of 23 test gardens sanctioned by All- America Rose Selections, Inc. until they ended operations in 2012. In 2008 the Gardens became affiliated with the American Rose Society's testing program- Award of Excellence. This testing program picks top miniature and mini-flora roses throughout the United States. The rose named 'Edisto' is one of the winners from this program. During the same year of 2008, the Noisette Garden was planted. The significance of this rose is it is the only class of rose to come from North America- Charleston, SC to be exact. Currently 57 varieties are on display and more will be added as they are found. Edisto Memorial Gardens celebrated the 200th. Anniversary of the Noisette Rose in 2011. In 2012, American Garden Rose Selections was formed to continue testing roses and Edisto Memorial Gardens is now one of 9 test gardens nation-wide. Look for winners from this group to be displayed in 2015.
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 28 animated displays, 20 still displays and 111 lighted cherry trees. The Kids Walk is an interactive walk through of 19 animated displays and 10 still displays. Displays range in sizes from 6 feet tall to 20 feet tall. The Gardens are illuminated seven days a week the Monday before Thanksgiving to New Year's Day for everyone to enjoy free of charge.
Roses and azaleas add to the man-made beauty of the Gardens but the Horne Wetland Park gives visitors the natural beauty of the Edisto River. Added in 1992, the 2,600 foot boardwalk takes visitors into a typical Tupelo- Cypress wetland that lies between the Display Garden and the North Fork of the Edisto River. A cypress display case within the boardwalk tells and shows visitors a little bit about life on and near the river. Boaters on the river can pull up to the boat dock and enjoy the gazebo. The boardwalk is fully accessible.
The Edisto Memorial Gardens also feature a butterfly garden, a serenity garden and sensory garden. Also, a beautiful terrace garden is located on the back of the Arts Center. Over 600,000 visitors experience all the Gardens has to offer each year. All fifty states and some foreign countries are counted in the visitors' count. The Edisto Memorial Gardens are open seven days a week from dawn to dusk.
The Gardens are located within the City of Orangeburg's limits on US Highway 301 just four blocks from the heart of the City. The average peak spring bloom of cherry trees, azaleas, dogwoods, and other flora is from March 15 to April 15. Roses begin blooming soon after the middle of April and continue until the first killing frost in November. These dates are subject to change from year to year due to weather conditions. For up to date bloom information, call the City of Orangeburg Parks and Recreation Department at (803)533-6020 or the City of Orangeburg Parks office at (803) 533-5870.