The Friends of Gardens Corner has ambitious plans to beautify an area long considered the gateway to Beaufort County.
They join other energized and dedicated people who have raised money and worked hard to make major thoroughfares in our county more enjoyable for all of us.
Gardens Corner, at the intersection of U.S. 21 and 17, certainly has seen better days. Recent highway construction has improved traffic flow there, but the traffic circle and overpass do little to enhance the Lowcountry scenery. Thank goodness more than a dozen grand live oaks there were preserved.
Member Bill Ladson says the group is cleaning up six miles of highway -- two miles along each of the three spokes leading from the traffic circle -- and hopes to extend their reach with more volunteers. The goal is to cover six miles to the Combahee River on U.S. 17 toward Charleston, about four miles to the Whale Branch River along U.S. 21 toward Beaufort, and about eight miles to Point South on U.S. 17 toward Interstate 95.
At the traffic circle, the group plans a $50,000 landscaping project. It has just started raising money and hopes to begin the work in a few years.
The project would include flowers, trees, shrubs and two historic markers. Beaufort County has committed to paying about $2,000 each for the historic markers.
Group president Woody Collins says the markers will tell the story of American Revolutionary War Col. Benjamin Garden, who owned land nearby and for whom the area is named, as well as other historic events in the area. (Lawrence Rowland's book, "The History of Beaufort County," tells us Garden was one of two representatives from the Beaufort District in the First Provincial Congress who switched sides and cooperated with the occupying British army after 1780.)
To raise money, the group is arranging lectures and selling memberships and $10 T-shirts. People also can pay only $5 for the shirt if they give it to a youth who volunteers to help clean up the highways.
Collins also says the group is reviving an old tradition in Gardens Corner. Community groups have made improvements there over the years, from rows of palmetto trees planted in the late 1930s to fields of daffodils.
The potential is great to create a spot that lives up to its "garden" name and helps tell the rich history of Beaufort County. We wish the group well and hope others move quickly to help.