Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Origin of Kalmia Gardens

Making It Grow Radio Minute

Kalmia Gardens in Hartsville was the creation of Mrs. D. R. Coker, affectionately called Miss May. The property, originally owned by the Hart Family who built the 1820’s structure, had become a dump during the depression. Coker dedicated herself to turning a garbage heap into a free, public garden. The name comes from the indigenous mountain laurels, Kalmia latifolia, that grow on the sixty-foot slope from the back of the property down to Black Creek. On the upper areas, Coker established camellias, oak trees, tea olives, and a plethora of horticulturally interesting plants. A part of Coker University, the gardens are open from dawn to dusk three hundred and sixty-five days a year. The historic house is a favorite place for parties and weddings, where guests can step outside and see a nighttime sky filled with stars.

Stay Connected
Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.