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Springtime Splendor in Summerville SC

Updated on September 11, 2014

Flowertown in the Pines

You have to see it for yourself. My hometown's nickname is "Flowertown in the Pines," which is very apt. But you really must come and see for yourself just how beautiful it is. Sometime around mid to late March, the azaleas begin popping out all over town. Keep in mind that there is a lot of history in Summerville, and the downtown area has a fairly large historic district. There are lots of large, gorgeous, old homes with generous yards full of blossoming bushes and trees. In late winter, we are blessed with the blooming camellia japonicas. They are a delight. The home where I grew up has a yard packed with camellia bushes that are well over 100 years old. But in March, the masterpiece makes its appearance . . . the azalea. There must be thousands of azalea bushes in downtown Summerville, gracing the old homes with a splash of bright color.If you are a golf fan and accustomed to watching The Masters on television every year, you will have noticed the giant banks of brightly colored flowers covering bushes behind some of the greens and tees. These are azaleas. If you think about those banks of azaleas at the Augusta National, that's exactly what Summerville looks like in spring, mixed with lovely homes and tall trees. Oak trees are dripping with Spanish Moss, while palm trees dot yards here and there. If you ask me, there's nowhere better in the world to live.(All pictures in this lens were taken by me.)

One of my favorites

This home is one of my top three favorite old houses in downtown Summerville. It just so happens that my parents know the people who live there, and I was able to attend a tea there once. It did not disappoint me on the inside. Double parlors and decorative fireplace mantels stand out in my memory. Renovations were done in this house several years ago. Inside the walls, they found a ladies' pair of boots that were over 100 years old, along with a few other items from the same time period.As is evident from this picture, the white fence that stretches the length of the yard has beautiful pink azaleas brimming over the top. The Japanese Magnolias flanking the front walk bloomed earlier this year, but in some springs, they bloom simultaneously with the azaleas. That's truly a sight to behold. Maybe you can see why this is one of my favorite homes in Summerville.

Town Square

You can find these lovelies blooming right on Town Square. If you are a tourist in Summerville at any time of year, your travels will most likely bring you to this square (which is actually a rectangle, but that's neither here nor there). The most attractive buildings and shops were actually behind me when I took this picture, but this was where I coule get the best picture of the flowers!When you visit the Town Square, you must see my favorite shop. It's called A Very Little Bookstore. It's a children's bookstore, but she carries a few local authors (like me!) who don't necessarily write children's books (and I haven't yet). When I took this picture, I had just stopped at A Very Little Bookstore to make a purchase and chat with the owner.I love Summerville. I really, really do.

More of Town Square

Taken in my parents' yard. They have wonderful spring blooms.

Taken in my parents' yard.  They have wonderful spring blooms.
Taken in my parents' yard. They have wonderful spring blooms.

From my yard

From my yard
From my yard

Another one of my favorite places.

It's hard to see this house through the lush foliage, but it's a bit atypical of Summerville architecture anyway. It certainly has a yard rich with spring blooms, some of which are visible here. It was always my favorite house in Summerville when I was growing up. That was probably, in part, due to the fact that there's not another like it here. Now, I have come to appreciate a more diverse set of styles, and other houses rival this one's grandeur in various ways. But it's gorgeous nonetheless. To me, this brick driveway seems to say, "Come on in to beauty and prosperity. There's a glass of sweet tea waiting for you on the porch." Summerville is, after all, the "Birthplace of Sweet Tea."

Historic St. Paul's Church

In this picture, you can see that the azaleas in the church yard are just beginning to pop out. It's early in the spring yet. Technically, it's still winter! A visitor to Summerville need only drive around to see such beauty as this. While this is not the only lovely church in Summerville, it's the loveliest, in my opinion.

They come in lots of colors!

This fuschia is the most common color of azalea that you will see in Summerville. I believe this variety is formosa southern. It's definitely not the only color in which you will see azaleas in Summerville, though. Some are white. Others are a light pink (as pictured above). Some are a watermelon color, while others are a true red. The true red and the white ones are the ones I see least frequently, so they are a nice surprise when I do see them.

Flowertown Festival - This year, it's the first weekend in April.

Every spring, the YMCA in Summerville hosts the Flowertown Festival. Over 100,000 people attended this festival last year. There are hundreds of arts and crafts vendors, there are food trucks, there is a carnival area with rides, and there are various performances. If you have never been before, come check it out! It's set in a public park that is crammed full of gorgeous azaleas, and you won't be disappointed.

Can there be a downside to all this lush beauty?

Unfortunately, during the same time of year that azaleas are making their grand entrance, Summerville is covered in yellow tree pollen. The rain washes it down into the puddles, when we are lucky enough to get some rain. But if it rains too hard, then the azalea blossoms are pummeled. That's sad when it happens. Are you terribly allergic to tree pollens? If so, you can just drive through our town with your windows rolled up. You will still enjoy the view!

Have you been?

Have you ever seen Summerville with the azaleas in full bloom?

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More azaleas, everywhere you turn.

Nearly every yard in Summerville has azaleas. It's almost like there's a town ordinance requiring it! Not really, of course. But everywhere you look, when Summerville is in full bloom, you will see blankets of color covering yards and houses and lining streets.

Up Close and Personal

Enjoy this close picture of a few of the lovely fuschia azaleas.

Another beauty from my yard

Another beauty from my yard
Another beauty from my yard

Small plant, big color impact! A young azalea bush in my yard.

Small plant, big color impact!  A young azalea bush in my yard.
Small plant, big color impact! A young azalea bush in my yard.

Can you grow them in your yard?

Azaleas typically do well in Zones 6, 7 and 8. (I believe they do well in parts of Zone 9, as well.) They can withstand some fairly cold winters, but I wouldn't try to plant them too far north of Zone 6. They like shade, but some varieties are tolerant of full sun. Just do your homework a bit before you choose a spot. I have a few in my yard, and they have done well in taking some morning sun, but being in the shade in our potentially blisteringly hot afternoons.

Don't forget about the camellias!

As I mentioned before, there is always some overlap of bloom time for azaleas and camellias. This is one of the hold-over camellia japonicas at the time the azaleas were really starting to show their color in spring 2013. The blossoms are so gorgeous, but they are different from the azaleas in that they don't create the impressive blanket of color that the azaleas do.

My favorite - the watermelon colored azaleas!

You don't have to be a great photographer to take pictures of Summerville in spring time! When the subject is this lovely, all one needs to do is point and click. These are my favorite color of azalea. They remind me of the middle of a ripe watermelon, just waiting to be devoured. I think this is the variety known as "Satin Robe."

I'm a Summerville author.

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    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      I should move to SC - March is our snowiest month here in CO. I envy you your flowers and flowering bushes.

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      A wonderfully informative and beautiful lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very beautiful lens. I enjoyed reading it!

    • greenmind profile image

      GreenMind 4 years ago from USA

      I love those watermelon azaleas too. This is a cool idea for a lens, really nicely done.

    • profile image

      sybil watson 4 years ago

      Those azaleas are gorgeous - I live in zone 11 so they would definitely not be happy here. My husband is from the northern part of South Carolina, near Rock Hill, and I've always enjoyed seeing the incredible flowers when we've visited.

    • BestWeddings profile image

      BestWeddings 4 years ago

      I love the colors of azaleas. There is one garden I love to drive past as every year it has an amazing display of azaleas....

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Summerville is indeed beautiful with all those azaleas. I would like to see it if I ever make it to the South.

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      @anonymous: Thanks for your kind comments! Come back to visit!

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      @Wednesday-Elf: Thank you! Glad you liked my lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I lived in Summerville for 4 years in the 70s as a military "brat" and would dearly love to live there again. I have such fond memories and planning a trip there soon. Thank you for this lens and for a stroll back through time. For other readers -- Summerville is everything she described and more. You won't be disappointed if you decide to visit.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 4 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Summerville looks like a beautiful and charming South Carolina town. I've lived in SC 3x (North Augusta, Mountain Rest and Pendleton) and visited many other places in SC, including Charleston and many of the coastal beaches. I'm currently in the Savannah, GA area, so our flowering trees and bushes are similar to yours in the springtime. :-) I really enjoyed my tour of your town and meeting you through your well written story.