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Blog for Victoria Bennett Beyer Photography

The photography blog of Victoria Bennett Beyer, featuring travel photographs from road trips across America and botanical photography of plants, flowers and leaves.

Cypress Gardens Has Reopened

Victoria Beyer

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I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Cypress Gardens in my home, Berkeley County, S.C., has reopened! It has been 3 1/2 years since a big storm wreaked havoc and the park was closed for repairs. The park is waiving admission fee for Berkeley County residents until the end of June! I don’t know when I will be back in South Carolina, but I can’t wait to see everything that has been done to restore this fantastic attraction.

I took this photo many years ago, from one of the trails at Cypress Gardens. It’s still one of my favorites.

Hartwood Acres Adventure

Victoria Beyer

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Last Friday I woke to a fresh layer of snow, undisturbed by wind, so I headed out to Hartwood Acres. It was still dark when I got there, so I sat in my car for a few minutes, eating a granola bar and sipping my chai. One person beat me out of the car and onto the trail, but he was out for a run, so I felt no particular hurry. As light began to appear, I began walking, stopping first at two lovely skeleton trees.

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I took Trail 1, and found myself looking out on a neighboring farm, so idyllic in the morning hush. I had been walking along with my new wide angle lens, but stopped to change it for the above shot.

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When I unzipped my bag, I scared a few deer and I froze, just enjoying watching them. Three trotted up the hill to the left of the trail on the photo above, and you can see one crossing the trail at a run. I assumed I had scared it, and stood still so as not to bother them any further. Then I saw something that surprised me - a coyote ran across the trail after the deer! The two animals looped to my left, and I spun around to watch the chase, which ended with the deer hightailing it through the forest behind me, and the coyote retracing its steps in a semicircle on my left, and crossing back over the trail to where it originally appeared, disappearing into the brush. My blood was pumping with the thrill of watching such an exciting moment before me. I had see the coyote’s tracks on the way up the trail, but I never guessed I would see one in action. I was so sorry I had the wrong lens on, which made the deer and coyote seem like little dots in the distance. They were in fact just about 200 yards away.

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By the time I got back to the paved trail, the sun was cresting the hills, bathing everything in a golden light. It was such a beautiful sight, especially after the dreary days that seem endless sometimes here in the winter.

Old Santee Canal Park

Victoria Beyer

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While I was in South Carolina in early January, we headed over to Old Santee Canal Park, one of my favorite places in the whole world. It was warm, even at South Carolina standards, at 70+ degrees, and we were hoping to see an alligator. But they were not ready to be out and about. We did spot some other wildlife, including this little anole, and lots of turtles.

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I can’t even explain the peace this place has brought me, especially during this visit. I sincerely hope any nearby development doesn’t negatively impact this natural treasure.

The Bunny Quilt

Victoria Beyer

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We just returned from our post-Christmas trip to South Carolina. My daughter got a wonderful gift from my mother - one that she has been waiting patiently for years to receive. The bunny quilt, handmade by my mom, is one of the most special things my daughter could ever hope to get, and will be a daily reminder of how much Grammy loves her :)

Autumn Passes

Victoria Beyer

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We waited and we waited this year for the leaves to change. And when they finally did, it seemed so sudden. Within just a couple of days they were all on the ground, and now we wait another whole year for them to light up our hills here in western Pennsylvania.

Pearl Fryar Gardens

Victoria Beyer

Back in South Carolina

Mr. Pearl Fryar

Mr. Pearl Fryar

Mom and I have decided on a new tradition. Each time I come back to SC for a visit, we select a mini-adventure from a stack of index cards we filled out and take off! This August, we headed to Bishopville to see the beautiful gardens of Mr. Pearl Fryar. He has been working on this creation for the last 30 years, primarily using plants that local nurseries were going to throw away. With his dedication and skill, he has coaxed these castoffs into whimsical shapes that swirl and bow throughout his property.

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The gardens are dotted with fantastic sculptures made by Mr. Fryar, too. They are frequently uplifting and positive in nature.

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If this place doesn’t make you feel like a kid again, I don’t know what will. It’s free to visit the gardens, which are open Tuesday-Saturday, from 10-4 p.m. You can park on the lot across the street, but please be mindful of Mr. Fryar’s neighbors and do not block the street. It’s free to visit, but donations are welcomed. And, if you are lucky like me, you might meet Mr. Fryar while he’s out working in the garden. He’s quite friendly and has a lot of knowledge to share.