Gardens in the Upcountry

South Carolina is home to many unique gardens. Discover why these South Carolina gardens are a must-see for anyone visiting the Palmetto State.

South Carolina Botanical Garden at Clemson University – Clemson, SC

Started as a small camellia preserve in the 1950s, the South Carolina Botanical Garden has blossomed into a 295-acre sanctuary for hundreds of different plants.

Visitors are given the opportunity to experience something truly unique at the South Carolina Botanical Garden. The Natural Heritage Garden Trail is home to the Cove Forest as well as the Maritime Forest – two completely different habitats in close proximity to each other. The property also includes a Desert Garden. The trails evolve constantly, with new flowers and plants blossoming each day.

The gardens are home to two historical properties: The Hunt Cabin, which was built in 1826, and the Hanover House, which at more than 300 years old is the second oldest wood-frame structure in the state.

The South Carolina Botanical Garden provides numerous educational opportunities from public classes to special events, making the South Carolina Botanical Garden the perfect place for visitors who are interested in botany. The grounds are free of charge and open from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year.

Asia Garden – Furman University – Greenville

When stepping into the Asia Garden at Furman University, visitors are seemingly transported out of the Upstate foothills and into a sanctuary reminiscent of the hot springs resorts in the mountains of Japan.

A former Buddhist temple, called The Place of Peace, looks serenely over this quiet garden that includes a stream, bog and waterfall. On Friday mornings, students can be found meditating in the contemplative place, and on many other days garden groups, schools and people in need of a few moments of serenity can be found on the meandering path made of small pebbles.

Visitors are often amazed by the variety of plant species from across the world that are residing – and thriving – at Asia Garden. There are 20 different types of bamboo and a variety of irises, including the Japanese iris. These, along with the kind of pine trees in the garden, are all native to Asia and have thrived in the Upstate climate because South Carolina’s latitude is similar to their indigenous countries.

There are large rocks that are strategically placed so visitors can sit to enjoy the waterfall and take in the other-worldly scene as koi swim among the cattails and irises.

During the spring months Asia Garden’s colors come alive when the huge weeping cherry trees bloom and the irises open to show their petals. In the fall, the Japanese maple trees appear to catch fire as their leaves become vibrant shades of red.

The garden is open to the public. Docent-led tours of The Place of Peace are available on weekends, 1-3 pm, in June, July, and August.

Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve – Spartanburg

Mere blocks from the busy streets of Spartanburg is a haven that has become known as a place for meditation and solace. Hatcher Garden was originally a personal project of Josephine and Harold Hatcher, who retired to Spartanburg from Indianapolis in the late 1960s. As their backyard garden became more and more involved, the Hatchers began purchasing the lots surrounding their home and converting the former cotton fields into more gardening space.

The following years were spent in one DIY project after another: building walking paths, creating watering systems, building ponds and waterfalls, and planting thousands of flowers, trees and shrubs. As the gardens became more elaborate, the community began to pay attention and often pitched in to help.

The property became a gathering place for parties, picnics and events, and now even has a partnership with Spartanburg Regional Hospice and the Interim Healthcare Hospice to “provide a place of serenity and peace,” offering respite for patients, caregivers, and family who are dealing with end-of-life care matters. During the 1980s the property gained non-profit status, solidifying its stature as a community gathering place.

Every day staff members, volunteers and members of the Spartanburg community can be found wandering this urban garden paradise, which features perennials, a conifer garden (one of only two in the state,) a butterfly garden, sculptures by local artists and much more. More than 35,000 people visit Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve each year to take in this backyard project gone wild.

Falls Park on the Reedy – Greenville

Along with Reedy River Falls and a distinctive curved suspension footbridge, this downtown park features dozens of small “garden rooms” offering a spectacular display of seasonal color. The 20-acre park features scenic overlooks, landscaped gardens, nature trails, picnic areas, excavated mill ruins and the Reedy River with its impressive series of falls.

Open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

View an interactive Falls Park map that includes locations of historical markers.

By Shani Gilchrist & Marie McAden for

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