Natural Heritage Garden Trail
The trail is now open to the public and allows visitors to walk through South Carolina's different habitats and view plants and soil native to the state's barrier islands on the coast and the mountain forests near the Upstate. The trail includes reproductions of savannas and prairies that were once found in the midlands and Upstate. Sections of the trail are still under construction and when completed, it will be the largest, most comprehensive collection of plants native to South Carolina in the state. The full trail is expected to open by fall 2015, if not before.
To learn more about the Natural Heritage Garden please view the pdf version of the Booklet
Flood of July 2013
The trail first opened in May 2013, McMillan said, but was destroyed soon after. About 9.5 inches of rain swept through the area on July 13, leaving parts of the trail under 16 feet of water. Silt and debris stuck high in the tree branches, bridges were washed completely away, and more than 1,000 varieties of native plants in their natural habitats were washed away. The floods of July 2013 brought over $250,000.00 in infrastructure damage to this part of the Garden.
There was an upside to the disaster. The flood provided the opportunity to rebuild in the most sustainable way and it provided a great teaching venue for sustainability. The garden will rebuild with protections against a similar future flood and will educate visitors on how people may need to adapt to extreme weather. The biggest change after the flood was the redesign of the upstream flood control structures and adjusting the grade so water is more controlled. Another upside of the disaster was the generous offers of help from the campus, volunteers, and other botanical gardens from around the United States. "We've had a 100-year drought, 100-year heat wave and 100-year flood all in the past four years. As climate become more volatile, we're going to try to illustrate the idea that we need to adapt," McMillan said.
To view flood images please visit the Gardens FaceBook page.
Patrick McMillan, SCBG Director and George Askew, PSA Vice President reopened the Natural Heritage Garden Trail and the Hunt Cabin with a ribbon cutting on Saturday, April 19, 2014.
Months of dedicated work by staff, volunteers, students and donations from the University, the city of Clemson and thousands of private individuals have allowed us to rebuild better and stronger Mountain and Piedmont sections of the trail. Garden staff used the destruction as an opportunity to make one part of the expansive garden more weather-resistant and accessible. During the Grand ReOpening on Saturday April 19, 2014, staff and volunteers were available at stations along the trail to interpret improvements made to withstand flooding, the hundreds of wildflowers, and the natural communities. The Mountain and Piedmont section of the trail forms the heart and soul of the SCBG and features over 1000 native species of plants growing in natural surroundings.