It’s wonderful to see the last portion of Falls Park finished! The southwest portion now includes Pedrick's Garden and the Carolina Foothills Garden Club Sanctuary, a wild(er) section of woods along the Vardry Creek ravine. The more formal Pedrick's Garden is named for Pedrick Lowrey, one of the principal fundraisers for Falls Park, and is located behind the shops on Augusta Street in the West End. Connected to the Sanctuary and Furman Way by a new bridge, the Garden is a series of raised beds designed to resemble sunflowers, including a fountain that looks like the seed head.
The three-acre sanctuary is named for the club that was instrumental in bringing the possibility of Falls Park to the attention of civic leaders. Including a small waterfall, rock staircases built into the hillside and a spring house used by Furman University botany students to grow moss and ferns, the entire acreage was once owned by Furman University. The Furman Arboretum was the first in the state, starting out with 266 trees and rock-lined steps and trails throughout built by the Works Progress Administration.
We descended to Vardry Creek from Furman Way, hauling the stroller down a series of stairs and maneuvering it across the uneven dirt path. We don’t mind off-roading with the stroller as it is light enough to carry for short distances; however the trails are not stroller-friendly and I recommend sticking to Furman Way and taking the bridge at the giant beech tree across the creek to those looking for an easier stroll.
The Sanctuary can be accessed from Falls Park by following the walkway behind the stage. A small bridge crosses Vardry Creek, named for Vardry McBee who is considered a father of Greenville and at one point owned much of the land that is now downtown Greenville.
When Furman moved to its current-day location after WWII, they took some of the plants from the Arboretum with it, and when the side closest to the shops was filled in for a parking lot, creating a steep slope, the Arboretum was all but forgotten.
In clearing the thicket for what was to be the Sanctuary workers found a stone bench and an arch near University Street that are now accessible from the trail. Next to the small waterfall is the springhouse which is closed to visitors but is surrounded by a wall with moss and ferns already growing on it. A dozen beech trees are clearly visible along the ravine, their autumn foliage carpeting the understory.
With cooler temperatures and rain in the forecast the next few days, we’ll be giving thanks for the company of grandparents in from Michigan indoors – which makes me all the more grateful for a few more beautiful fall days spent outdoors here in the Upstate. Wishing all my readers blessings of health and happiness on Thanksgiving!