Ode to Kalmia

by Teri Leigh Teed

“Here is my secret. It’s quite simple. One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”  Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Have you ever spent time in a garden, and found yourself weeping softly with joy from merely being in the presence of the flowers?

Children understand this — very few grown-ups do.

Spending an afternoon in the gardens at Kalmia can have this affect. In the springtime when the mountain laurel are blooming, if you look closely you can count the ten points in the center of the flowers. The afternoon sun peaks through fluffy, white clouds and the canopy of pines, oaks and hollys and creates a special illumination.

It’s a very soothing, meditative journey to follow the winding paths up, down and alongside the 60-foot drop from the historic Hart family home to the banks of Black Creek and the gateway to the surrounding cedar-kneed swampland.

Located appropriately in a town named Hartsville, the lush green surroundings envelope visitors with a glow from Nature’s own heartland. Green, the color of the heart chakra, even permeates the slow-winding Black Creek’s tannic soaked water which takes on the canopy’s green hues in a fairyland way.

One loses track of time easily here.  It reminds me of Jorge Luis Borges’ thoughts…

“To gaze at a river made of time and water and remember Time is another river.”

Meandering among the pathways strewn with flower petals, the quiet stillness permeates one’s heart and soul.

The pink flowering mountain laurels render an especially happy aura, and allowing their gift to merge into one’s presence is very therapeautic.

There is a feminine Divine Presence in this place, which was probably felt by the founder and architect of the gardens, Mrs. David Robert Coker, or “Miss May” as she is affectionately remembered by the locals.

So don’t worry if you feel a bit silly experiencing all these splendors at Kalmia. Folks thought Miss May was a tad eccentric when she started her plans to transform 35 acres of rugged bluff wilderness into Kalmia Gardens in 1932.

Eighty plus years on, the only ones laughing now are us kids enjoying time with the flowers and the fairies, on the pathway to joy.

Featured photograph, “White Mountain Laurel Flowers II, Kalmia Gardens” by Teri Leigh Teed

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