The Gracious South



In the midst of my nerve-wracking tree planting I had three lovely presents brought to my front door by  my new neighbors in Charleston. One of these is a friend from NYC who has a beautiful Greek Revival house just six blocks down the street in Charleston. She arrived with a box of croissants  and macaroons from a local bakery that made me feel as if I were back in Paris. A great way to start the day! Her amazing house (much grander than my Chisholm  House) is a wonderful collaborative effort between my stylish friend and the talented designer (and another friend) Mario Buatta.

The day before the actual planting of the “monster trees,” the construction company knocked on neighbors’ doors to tell them their cars would need to be moved for a day and that power would be shut down for a few hours. I watched as the worker knocked on the door directly across the street.  It seemed that the lady might have some concerns, so I went over to introduce myself.  She told me she had grown up in her house and wondered why I was changing things . I explained about my new garden and my dream to fill it with flowers from the south: Magnolia grandiflora, jasmine, camellias, and gardenias. We chatted for quite a while, and she said she might come over the next day to see the trees.  Sure enough, she arrived the next morning with a wonderful tray laden with camellias that her mother had planted decades ago!

Nancy, my new neighbor, is 92 years old, so you can figure how long ago those camellias were planted. What objects of joy and beauty!  Sadly, as my house was  totally empty in preparation for construction, I had only an empty water bottle and some Styrofoam coffee cups as vases . . . but even those ugly vessels could not diminish the beauty of her ravishing camellias. Those flowers kept me company during my three-day stay in Charleston. I was so touched by her generosity, as well as eager to share its beauty with all of you.

The other house across the street is owned by a charming lady who brought me homemade Charleston savory crackers  accompanied by a bottle of champagne. How could anyone feel more welcomed than that?

The graciousness of these ladies made me feel so good and happy.  This very generous welcome is not something that  one sees everywhere today, so this is my salute to the graciousness of the south. Thank you!

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Here I am with my new neighbor, Nancy.  I loved that she was dressed in vibrant color and (like a proper lady) was perfectly made up for her visit.  She looked wonderful!


17 thoughts on “The Gracious South

  1. What a lovely, gracious welcoming committee ! And such thoughtful gifts ! You will be so happy there ! Enjoy and post more pictures for us to savor.

  2. I love this story! I am from the South and now live in California. I really do miss the graciousness that is part of the Southern culture and tradition. How wonderful you have such lovely new neighbors and I too love the fact that she got spiffed up to come over!

  3. It seems you have moved to a perfect neighborhood. These lovely ladies are so sweet to welcome you so graciously. I’m anxious to watch your gardens come together. You always have such fabulous style and taste.

  4. Oh my goodness!
    I just want you to wrap her up and bring her home to sunny Dorset..You are so lucky to be surrounded by such gorgeous people…Please give her a big kiss from me!
    Very best and warmest wishes,
    Jonathan x

  5. What a lovely lady and what a beautiful gesture that was. How thoughtful of her to bring you such beautiful camellias.
    The different shades of pink are just gorgeous. I just love the color pink. Enjoy!


  6. I like Lisa am a southerner living in CA. The camellias are beautiful(brought back many memories) as was your new neighbors & their southern hospitality. Happy Landing in Charleston,Carolyn.

    • I adore Charleston, S.C. If I were ever settle another place she would be very high on my list. The kindness & graciousness of the lovely Folks that always welcome me back & the beautiful surroundings call me for at least an annual visit. Bless their hearts!

  7. Charleston is my favorite city…graciousness, civility, manners and beautiful scenery. How perfect that you should land there! You seem to epitomize and exemplify those qualities…

  8. I am a Southern girl too, a rather old one. Transplanted many years in Santa Barbara,
    now in Portland. There is no welcome like a Southern welcome. She is lovely, and
    her camellias are ravishing. I believe you will love having a house there. And you bring
    such style and grace wherever you go, how lucky they are to have you in their midst.

  9. I have all your books and have gotten such inspiration from you. Your pictures of beautiful rooms and gardens are my favorite escape…..thank you

  10. I saw you speak in Wilmington, DE at the antique show and enjoyed it very much. Originally from MS, I have always heard that if you put a grape on the stem of a camellia, instead of putting them water, they can be banked on a mantel or easier used in flower arrangement. It seems the flowers love the sugar. You took a picture of a granddaughter (age 5) at the antique show and we have it in silver frame. Thank you.

  11. Carolyne, welcome to the South where I have lived all of my life! We traveled extensively when young, but we were always happy to come home to South Carolina with friendly, gracious people like your new neighbor. No matter where we have lived in the South, we have always been welcomed graciously. Also, thank you for kindly sharing the yummy recipes. We just might make a Southerner out of you yet!! Oh, how about your sweet dogs – will they come for visits, also? We would love to meet your fur-babies!

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