THE ZOO'S GARDENS
The Riverbanks' gardens are beautiful. They occupy 70 acres on the
top of a plateau. You can take the tram up or you can simply walk across a bridge
over the Saluda River and up the steep hillside. As you go up you will be surrounded
by quiet forest. If you choose to take the winding woodland trail you will come upon
the ruins of one of the first textile mills in South Carolina. This mill was used to make
bed ticking for the confederate army but Sherman burned it to the ground and started
his assault on Columbia from that point.
When you finally get to the gardens you will be amazed. It is almost like being in a
different world. The gardens are loosely based on a walled English garden. When you
come in you will immediately face a sea of different flowers and plants. You will see
plants from around the world here. The gardens are for people to come and enjoy.
So far 12,300 different types of plants are in the gardens. Many of the plants give off
distinct smells. My least favorite is the rosemary that they have around the fountains.
It really stinks! Mostly the garden is pretty quiet except for the fountains which make
a nice trickling noise.
Riverbanks garden can call itself a botanical garden because it does three things that all botanical gardens do.
Riverbanks keeps very extensive records on each plant. All the plants have tags
with their names and identification numbers on them. These tags are most often
hidden underneath the plants. There are other signs for the public to use.