Adventure in Bonaventure

When a friend of mine asked me if I’d like to join the Tybee Island Garden Club on an outing to Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia to learn about camellias I didn’t have to think twice about saying yes. They couldn’t have picked a more perfect day to go. It was cool but not too  cold on the sunny Saturday morning in January we spent going through the cemetery.

Bonaventure Cemetery is located on a beautiful bluff above the Wilmington River. Once a plantation, the land became a private cemetery in 1846. In 1907 the cemetery was made public. The cemetery covers about 100 acres of land with many interesting gravestones, monuments and tombs in a gorgeous setting with stately live oak trees, dogwoods, azaleas, camellias and other beautifully maintained vegetation. Today many visitors to Savannah make Bonaventure a must see stop during their stay.

Our guide was Doug Webb of the Bonaventure Historical Society. We learned that many of the camellias in the cemetery are historic, older varieties that are not easily found in nurseries these days. Doug is very knowledgeable about the camellias and spends one day a week at the cemetery with other volunteers planting, fertilizing, watering, and propagating the camellias.

As we went through the cemetery he pointed out the different varieties of camellias, talked about how they air layer the plants, and kept us entertained us with stories about the history of the property. We are very grateful to Doug for sharing his expertise with us.

One of the most visited graves in Bonaventure Cemetery is that of little Gracie Watson. Gracie was born in New England in 1883. Her family moved to Savannah when her father became manager of  the Pulaski Hotel in downtown Savannah. Sadly, in 1889, when she was six years old, Gracie developed pneumonia and died. Her parents hired sculptor John Walz to carve a monument of their daughter. Her parents moved back to New England and are both buried there. Little Gracie is all alone in Bonaventure.

There are stories that Gracie’s spirit is still around. There have even been sightings of Gracie’s ghost.

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Gracie Watson in Bonaventure Cemetery
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Gracie Watson at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA
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Little Gracie Watson Grave at Bonaventure Cemetery
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Little Gracie Watson

There is so much to see in Bonaventure it’s hard to capture it all. We went there to learn about camellias but we saw so much more.

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One of the many ancient live oaks in Bonaventure Cemetery
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An angel in Bonaventure Cemetery

More information about the cemetery can be found at Bonaventure Cemetery. There are tour companies that offer guided tours or you can pick up a map at the visitor’s center and explore on your own. A good time of year to visit is in the spring when the azaleas and dogwoods are blooming.

Breakfast In the Salt Marsh

When the tide is just right and the minnows in the water are plentiful, wading birds gather in the salt marsh in search of food. White Ibis, Egrets, Herons, and Wood Storks can often be seen feeding side by side in the marsh.

This morning my husband got my attention to show me a long line of white birds lined up on the railing of our neighbor’s dock. By the time I got my camera ready many of the birds had flown down into the marsh but there were still a few white ibis and great egrets surveying the area before diving in to eat.

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White Ibis searching for breakfast in the salt marsh
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Great Egret
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White Ibis
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Great Egret

It’s always entertaining to watch the white ibis as they feed. Usually there is a large group of them poking their long beaks under the water to capture fish. Suddenly, all of them will start wading through the water in the same direction in search of more food. They don’t stay long in any one place. Eventually, they tire of the area and fly off in search of better fishing grounds.

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Ibis dining in the salt marsh
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White Ibis dining in the salt marsh

I never know when I’m going to stumble across flocks of birds in the marsh but it’s always a treat when I see them. I was lucky to see them this morning and was glad to have my camera nearby.

 

Oatland Island Wildlife Center

Located near downtown Savannah, The Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah is a wonderful place to view animals native to Georgia.  Sadly, the center is currently closed after a tornado tore through the center in July, 2018.  All of the animals were safe but many of the structures sustained damage.

When the center is open, there are many educational programs for students. For more information about the center please visit their website.

A few years ago we took our two oldest grandkids to Oatland Island to see the animals. It was such a great day we returned for a second visit a couple of months later.

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Red-tailed Hawk

 

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Red Fox
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Broad-Headed Skink
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Gray Wolf
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Alligator
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Cougar
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Gopher Tortoise

Inspired by Ingrid’s Wandering Wednesday – Zoo

Reflections

When I was a lot younger I was too busy to notice a lot of the little details that occur in nature. I discovered later in life that if I slow down and look around me I can enjoy the beauty of something as simple as trees or birds reflected in still water.

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Otter Springs, FL
Lake Bistineau
Lake Bistineau, LA
Foggy morning on West Point Lake
Foggy morning on West Point Lake, GA
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Little Ocmulgee State Park, GA
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An unusual looking palm tree in the Silver River
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Yellow Crowned Night Heron, FL

Inspired by Ingrid’s Wandering Wednesday photo prompt – Reflections