Affectionately known as the "city set in a garden," Charleton has been revered for its fine gardens since colonial times. While such magnificent plantation gardens as Middleton and Magnolia grace the outskirts of the city, small private gardens endow Charleston's historic streets with a distinctive Old World charm. Passersby spy these half-hidden sanctuaries through wrought iron gates and vine-covered walls; they glimpse piazzas, statuary, fountains, cobblestone walks, and profusion of seasonal plants that have transformed narrow spaces into enchanting outdoor rooms. Gardens of Historic Charleston invites readers to venture beyond these garden gates and to experience the allure and seclusion of Charleston's celebrated town gardens.
James R. Cothran, and landscape architect who has been fascinated by Charleston gardens for more than four decades, recounts the history of horticulture in a city where small-space gardening has reached the zenith of refinement and ingenuity. He guides readers through some of its most cherished private retreats, including one inspired by The Secret Garden and the much-visited garden at the historic Heyward-Washington House, where George Washington stayed while he was in the port city. Cothran explains the principles inherent in all Charleston gardening—integration of house and garden, maximum use of limited space, enclosure by protective walls, and the creative use of ornamental plants—as he offers a wellspring of ideas for planning, creating, or improving one's own garden.
James R. Cothran (1941–2012) was a practicing landscape architect and urban planner in Atlanta, Georgia, and adjunct professor in Georgia State University's Heritage Preservation Program. A past president of the Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and former member of the City of Atlanta's Urban Design Commission and Tree Preservation Review Board, he held degrees from Clemson University, the University of Georgia, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.