Spring blooms are calling, and a visit to the lush grounds of the Kilgore Lewis House is a must. Valuing the history and tradition of gardening that flourishes in the Upstate, the house, along with the Greenville Council of Garden Clubs, hosts an annual spring tour for nature lovers to experience various area gardens.

In 1974, Kilgore Lewis House became the headquarters for the Greenville Council of Garden Clubs with a long-standing vision to promote the love of gardening, protect nature, plan activities for members, and assist in the creation of the beauty found within nature.The house was built in 1838, but was scheduled to be torn down in the 1970s. The GCGC devised a restoration plan, raising more than $100,000 to finance a move to North Academy Street. Today, the house and its surrounding grounds are a favorite spot for weddings, celebrations, and meetings.

Each year’s tour, along with this year’s The Eclectic Gardens of Chanticleer, is planned by the GCGC, which comprises more than a dozen Upstate associations. The Kilgore Lewis House will be selling tickets for historic tours of their own grounds, in addition to the six gardens featured on the tour, including those of Bobby and Alecia Elrod, Dale and Sandra Hamann, John and Jane Anne Bruch, Van and Mandy Merchant, Dan and Marsha Sichveland, and Wim and Jana Smith.

Throughout the tour, the GCGC hopes to plant the concept in participants’ minds that in order to have a successful garden, vision must align with nature, because ultimately nature wins out. The Elrods’ elaborate terraced garden backs up to Brushy Creek. Sandra Hamann wants her plants to be self-sustaining, so the Hamanns’ garden holds plants native to the Upstate. The Merchants’ house bees, which keep their space full of life. The maturity and harmony of each garden attests to the time and dedication of its gardeners, an experience of beauty and bloom not to be missed.

The annual Spring Garden Tour will take place on May 8–9 from 10am–4pm. Historic tours of the Kilgore Lewis House and grounds are also available during normal operating hours from 10am–2pm, Wed–Fri. For more information, visit kilgore-lewis.org.

Illustration by Karen Schipper