In the last several months I’ve found myself spending a lot more time in beautiful Charleston, SC. This opened up a great opportunity to visit our partner nursery, Charleston Aquatic Nursery. I let them know I was coming, grabbed my camera and a monopod, and headed out.
Driving around Charleston is a uniquely varied experience. It’s not a tiny city with nearly 700 thousand people in the metro area, and of course it has all of the expected things from a city that size. It’s a very water-heavy town, with rivers, streams, marshes, and of course the harbor, all spanned by bridges (like the Ravenel, pictured). The downtown is dense with rich history, nearly every building in some areas centuries old. Just across the rivers, though, Mt. Pleasant and West Ashley are Suburban shopping havens.
The Nursery that I was headed to is on John’s Island, which is covered with ancient oaks hung with Spanish moss. There are many places on the island where one turns a corner and is transported from a perfectly normal suburban landscape to the middle of a haunted forest. Mixed in among these are areas of working family farms and nurseries, many of which have been in family hands for generations.
I had been warned before coming out that the nursery was in the middle of a seasonal changeover, and that there might not be many plants blooming worth seeing. Brian, the co-owner who had warned me of this, has a different idea of “not many plants blooming” than I do. I was treated to row after row of stunning lily blooms. I had expected to spend less than an hour at the nursery, but after a warm welcome and quick tour I spent more than two hours wandering around, taking hundreds of photos (as well as idly wishing that I had brought a full tripod and more lenses). It had been overcast for most of the week, but the sun came out and cooperated for much of the time I was at the nursery.
Also cooperating was one of my favorite indicators of a healthy nursery: bees. I got several great shots of bees massing on lily flowers as well as a few shots of bees in flight to and from blooms. Insects, especially in flight, are often pretty difficult to capture. It helps a great deal to be shooting under full sun, which allows you to speed up the shutter without losing detail or getting out-of-control ISO noise.
I was really pleased, when I arrived, to finally meet Brian, one of the two brothers who co-own the nursery (as I said, Charleston is big on the family-owned business). Having worked with and for more than a few nurseries, one pattern I’ve seen is that the best nursery owners have dirt under their fingernails and usually take gloves off to shake your hand. I was really happy to see that Brian is one of those, and he spent most of the time I was there busily and skillfully repotting and moving plants around.
For more photos from this trip, check out our Flickr set of these photos here.