Nestled west of central Sumter, South Carolina, Swan Lake Iris Gardens boasts two large properties on either side of West Liberty Street, connected by a beautiful wooden bridge. The property seems a multi-venue location, with rentable greens, a museum, a gazebo and attached lawn, wooden walks and the grander lake.
A plethora of swans, ducks and geese waddle the landscape. Beware, despite their beauty, swans are not friendly creatures. Multiple warning signs dot the walkways warning drawing too near to the animals. However, so long as you remain clear, you can still get decent views and photos of both birds, lake and the greater property.
Floral layouts rise from hills and hide gentle twists and turns. A tall metallic wing rises from a courtyard ringed by low metal fences to prevent the swans from waddling in. The statue overlooks the lake, which shimmered with cloudy afternoon sunlight.
Visitors and power walkers follow gravel paths amidst flower bushes, blossoming trees and along the lake's swampy shoreline. On the property's eastern side rise small gardens. A butterfly garden -- at which I saw no butterflies, but that could be a seasonal thing -- boasts small metal butterflies to see and sit upon. Further is a cornucopia of plants and plant types for Carolinian green thumbs to peruse.
Small informational panels provide data on the broad spectrum of fowl residing in the gardens, which number more than you might initially suspect.
On the far side of the bridge, the property splits its attention between a swamp lined in raised wooden walkways for visitors to get an in-person experience with the wetlands prevalent across the area. The other half of the property is both floral and space that appears to be reservable for events with a gazebo and formal plumbing. Paths cut through brush and along hills.
My solo visit meandered along the property, taking photos and enjoying the cool breeze on an otherwise tepid Sunday afternoon. Quiet, restful air encourages reflection and relaxation. Though removed from any metro area, those living close enough or passing through can enjoy a well cultivated atmosphere of nature's beauty.
Free of cost and easy to access, Swan Lake Irish Gardens is a reservation, a small getaway most of us can find benefit from our hectic, daily lives.