Moore Farms Botanical Garden
By Heather Page
Moore Farms Botanical Garden offers 65 acres of beautiful horticultural displays that serve for education, research and conservation, and community outreach. The Garden was founded in 2002 by South Carolina native Darla Moore as she began transforming her family’s croplands into a place of beauty. She quickly saw her gardens potential of being more than a personal place of refuge, but one she could share with visitors to enjoy and learn about horticulture. Ms. Moore was determined the garden “would become a gift to the ages – an enrichment to the lives of others.”
Fifteen years later, Moore Farms Botanical Garden (MFBG) has grown beyond expectation. Once carpeted with row crops, the garden is now flourishing with beautiful specialty gardens and blooming ornamental plants. Over the years, the living museum has been home to more than 6,000 unique plant taxonomy. These days the Garden’s collection consists mostly of plants that perform well in the southeast, specifically those that thrive in eastern South Carolina.
Aside from maintaining the entire 600 acre farm land, Moore Farms has a “fantastic partnership with both the City of Lake City and the Lake City Community Development Office to create landscapes downtown that both inspire and excite our residents,” says Rebecca Turk, Education and Events Manager of MFBG. “Being able to support our community by beautifying these public spaces is not only rewarding, but a large part of our mission.” Katie Dickson, Supervisor of Custodians for the downtown landscapes brags on her team, “Our staff works hard to create miniature Moore Farms throughout Lake City.”
The MFBG property has multiple events scheduled throughout the year for visitors to enjoy, as well as, adult and youth classes for those eager to learn. The Fire Tower Center located on site is available for rent to businesses, civic groups, garden clubs, or photography sessions. The “green” building offers modern architecture with a traditional Southern feel that makes it the perfect venue for professional events. With so much to offer in such unique atmosphere, it’s time to “Plan Your Visit!”
Green Practices & Land Management
For years the MFBG team has maintained a green roof garden on the maintenance facility building where they investigated which species performed well under South Carolina weather conditions. However, this roof doesn’t share the guidelines as typical green roofs across and outside of the country – it’s heavily maintained with annual plants, it’s irrigated as desired with recycled water, and the roof slope and depth are far greater than common green roofs. In March of 2015, the MFBG team broke ground on a green roof trial garden. Twelve structures measuring 10’ x 15’ were constructed to mimic the majority of green roofs commonly found in the industry. Their goal is to produce a proven plant list that can be recommended, with confidence, to the green roof industry and interested professionals for use on green roofs in Southeastern climates. The research gathered will help MFBG be the first institution that promotes good plant selection through green roof trials. To learn more on this topic, visit www.moorefarmsbg.org/green-roof-trial-garden/.
Water recycling is the most practical way for MFBG to properly hydrate plants. Since well and city water contain chemicals and minerals that could damage plants, cisterns sit throughout the property collecting clean rain water for plant irrigation. The entire MFBG property has slowly evolved into a ‘green’ space. The maintenance facility, built in 2011, is oriented to maximize the seasonal heating and cooling effects of the sun, and the Fire Tower Center operates on a geothermal system for its heating and cooling needs.
Forest and habitat restoration or farmland cover the 535 acres that surround the 65 acres of cultivated garden space. A recent habitat improvement program has restored this land back to a more natural and diverse state. Loblolly pines and other weedy species were replaced with thousands of long leaf pines, allowing native grasses and perennials to be reintroduced to the area that was once chocked with lespedeza and privet. “It’s an essential part of our mission to make sure this land is restored back to a more natural and diverse state,” says Turk.
The extensive property along with its outside services is maintained by a small staff with a tremendous work ethic. Administration, horticulturist, growers, and the maintenance crew work diligently on designing and creating spaces for visitors to marvel. “I love helping working on the Moore Farms property,” says Brendan Huggins, Horticulture Supervisor. “Compared to other gardens I’ve serviced, we are able to create new landscape designs opposed to only maintaining existing plants.”
Grow to appreciate the natural world through Moore Farm Botanical Garden’s many educational classes and workshops. Their professional staff, first rate facilities, and beautiful setting offer the perfect learning environment for all ages.
June 3 – The Art and Science of Plant and Garden Photography
June 10 – Propagation 101
July 8 – Let’s Make Herbal Oils and Vinegars
July 20 – A Walk in the Tropics
July 29 – Gardening in the South
July 17 – Spring Series: Gone Fishing
July 22 – Summer Series: Super Tasters
June 12-16 – Garden Explorers Camp
June 19-23 – Garden Detectives Camp
June 26-30 – Culinary Camp
Every Tuesday & Thursday, July 11-August 10 – Dig It! Garden Apprenticeship
Schools are welcomed to bring students to experience a hands-on learning approach of the natural world at MFBG. School programs are led by a professional staff and cover a range of subjects that correlate with South Carolina Academic Standards. For more information, contact Kelli Meeker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 9 – MFBG 4th Annual Beer Fest from noon to 5:00 pm
Enjoy beers from over 35 local and regional craft brewers while listening to live music by the Jebb Mac Band. All ticket proceeds will be donated to the Florence County Disabilities Association. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at moorefarmsbg.org.