CO-Horts Blog

Friday, April 15, 2022

The Magical South (and Scenes from a Cemetery!)

 Posted by: Alison O'Connor, Larimer County Extension

Earlier this month, I spent the best weekend with my mom in South Carolina and Georgia. It was a trip for the ages, because we attended the Augusta National Women's Amateur golf tournament at Augusta National (more on that!), but we also crammed in a lot of other things to fully experience the south in spring.

Azaleas in full bloom in Columbia, SC.

Fortunately for me, my mom loves cemeteries as much as I do and we kicked off our trip by visiting the First Presbyterian Church and Cemetery. The church was organized in 1795 (!) and is the oldest congregation in Columbia. Buried in the cemetery are Woodrow Wilson's parents and a couple of University of South Carolina presidents. Soldiers from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars are among those also buried here.

Aside from the rich history of the cemetery's interred were the amazing plants! Swaths of lilyturf (Liriope), flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida), and majestic live oaks (Quercus virginiana) wove through the cemetery grounds. Other friends included crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), camellias, and azaleas.

A live oak spanning across many gravesites at the First Presbyterian Cemetery in Columbia, South Carolina. 

For someone who learned their plant materials in the Midwest, it was fun to pull out the cobwebs to try to identify many of these species - plus, having a group of horties accessible via text helps too!

I blogged about the magic of Augusta National a few years ago and had previously visited the course in May after the tournament. But let me tell you - seeing it in April, in its prime, was a near-religious experience. As mom and I drove from Columbia to Augusta, Georgia early Saturday morning, I was emotional just thinking about it. Mom teased me and told me to hold it together. As we walked up the main gates to enter the grounds, I was overcome with emotion and had tears streaming down my face. [Side note: my family took bets on how many times I would cry; the final count was eight!]

The course was impeccable. The perennial ryegrass was like green carpet. The pine straw was neatly manicured, and the grounds were absolutely beautiful. The course was once a nursery, so hundreds of plant species line the fairways. And hilly! If you watch the Masters, don't be fooled. Hole 18 is straight uphill. Mom and I walked the entire course, adding 22,000 steps to our sneakers. It was a dream to watch some of the most talented amateur female golfers in the world and celebrate 16-year-old Anna Davis's win. We also saw Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez, and Dr. Condoleezza Rice (who is a member). 

Phones are prohibited on the grounds during the tournament, so mom and I stood in line for our complementary photo in the front of the clubhouse. Southern hospitality was at its finest, as everyone on the grounds, from patrons, to staff, to the groundkeepers were so incredibly friendly. The city of Augusta loves hosting the Masters and the women's amateur and they are so good at it.

Mom and me at Augusta National in April 2022. We practiced our pose, but mom forgot the leg bend! Phones weren't allowed on the grounds during the tournament, so this is the only photo we have. 

The next day we drove to Charleston, which simply oozed southern charm and history. A walking tour through the city combined aspects of architecture, history, and more great plant life. Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata) and cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) were used as filler landscape plants.
This porch in Charleston begs for lazy afternoons reading and drinking sweet tea.

It was such a great trip! The weather was perfect, the humidity was low, and it was fantastic to spend quality time with my mom. We both agreed we'd go back in a second if given the opportunity. Two thumbs up!


  1. Cemetaries are the best! Very calming..

  2. The features Alison did not mention was the delicious food we enjoyed and the excellent tours we took part in. The two-hour walking tour of Charleston was most informative and historical. Our guided tour of the State House (we were with a group of eight grade students) covered the damaged exterior due to General Sherman's Union Army. There was much to see, learn, experience and best of all - I was with Alison. Mom Stoven

  3. Love you mom! It was such a great weekend together ❤️

  4. Delicious food, fantastic trip with Mom, and Historical Charleston!