Origin of Kalmia Gardens
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.