Many of our best-loved plants first entered the South through Charleston. Here’s the fascinating story of how they got to the region's garden gateway and then to your backyard.
Photo: Van Chaplin, Ralph Anderson
Native to Japan, the Indica azelea got its name because at the time it was discovered, Asia was known as the East Indies. By 1845, the largest and oldest collection of the evergreen shrub was flourishing at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens up the Ashley River from Charleston. Thirteen generations later, Taylor Drayton Nelson, pictured, works to identify many of the heirloom azaleas and camellias planted at his family’s gardens before they are lost.