Mary Presson Roberts Photography

Magnolia: It’s Not Just the Azaleas

“It is good people who make good places.”
― Anna Sewell

Each year I try to get to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens when the azaleas are blooming.

The bloom happened earlier than ever this year.  I remember, about a decade ago, when I was able to spend time photographing the azaleas in Charleston during my spring break, which was typically the first week in April.  This year, the azaleas were at peak bloom at Magnolia the second week of March.

I made two quick day trips to try to capture the beauty.

I started my first trip Friday morning, leaving at 4:00 a.m. from my house.  I drove through a light rain to what I knew would be rainy conditions in the gardens.  I chose to go even with the rainy forecast in order to make it in time for the peak bloom while hoping to capture some different images than the ones I captured in previous years.  Kevin Adams was the first teacher who taught me that bad weather leads to good photography.  That lesson is a great one.

The rain changed how I took the images and, in some cases, took me to places I had never photographed before.


Sunday morning, my friend, Deede, and I made our way to Charleston.  When we planned to leave again at 4:00 a.m., I wasn’t considering the time change.  So as we loaded our gear into the car at my house, it was really 3:00 a.m.

We were rewarded for our early morning wakeup and drive with beautiful conditions in the gardens.    The morning was mostly cloudy with just a short glimpse of beautiful light.

I always try to create images I haven’t created before, so I shot through azaleas to get some different compositions than in previous years.



One of my favorites from the second day was the portrait I was able to make of my beautiful friend, Deede.

During my rainy day to the gardens, I did not run into anyone I knew while photographing.  This is very unusual during peak bloom.

On the second day, I was able to visit and reconnect with many wonderful friends who were also drawn to the beauty of the gardens.

After returning home, my friend, Geoff Litz, shared with me this photo he took of us with his phone.  You can see Geoff’s wonderful photography at his website:


When I saw this photo of us with our happy faces, I realized that although Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is an extraordinarily beautiful place to be while the azaleas are blooming, I go there as much for the people as I do for the place.

I was able to enjoy lunch with a great friend in photography after my rainy day visit.

On my second trip, I got to share the experience with Deede, while spending time with many friends who my camera has introduced me to through the years.  I am so grateful for each of these friendships.  Many thanks to each of you for being a part of my story.

If not before, I look forward to seeing you all next time at Magnolia!

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Mary Presson Roberts

I am a travel and fine art photographer living and working in the Carolinas. My camera has taken me to places I never would have experienced and to people I never would have met. Photography has truly changed my life! Using my blog, I hope to share the joys of both travel and photography.

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