Botany Bay preserving history and protecting the environment.

2010 Blue Bird Hatchings
Click here for the details
Check our new links at the botton of this page.
Botany Bay has a lot of painted buntings, perhaps America's most beautiful birds
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Botany Bay Wildlife Managment Area
is made up of three historic plantations: Bleak Hall, Botany Bay, and Sea Cloud.

According to Charles Spencer in his history "Edisto Island 1663 to 1860 "By 1859 the Townsend family had assembled 3,779 acres (including marshlands) on the southeast corner of Edisto Island, by far the largest cotton plantation on the island. Its proprietor, John Ferrars Townsend, was noted for the quality of the cotton he produced."

The excellent and complete two volume history of Edisto is available from the Edisto Island Museum Thankfully some remnants of those "glory days of sea island cotton" remain.

SC DNR has erected fencing to protect the key historic sites and they are researching and collecting reference materials. The following pictures were brought to them by Mrs. Legare B. Head whose grandfather, John Ferrars Townsend, M.D. (1880-1962) grew up at Bleak Hall. Mrs. Head and her mother were named for her grandfather's mother, Ellen Legare' (1850-1888) who was married to John F. Townsend (1845-1914) and who lived at Bleak Hall, one of the two plantations that make up what is now known as Botany Bay.

Reprinted with permission from SCDNR and Mrs. Legare Head.

Front view of Bleak Hall by Karoline "Callie" Sosnowski circa 1861 Bleak hall smoak house located at edge of the sunken garden created by Oqui, famed gardener
Front view of Bleak Hall
by Caroline "Callie" Sosnowski

sketch dated
Aug. 1861

This view of the smoke house was taken in 1967 by Mrs. Head. She indicates that it was located on the edge of the "sunken garden" created by Oqui, the famous gardener (read more about Oqui in "Tales of Edisto" by Nell Graydon.)

Volunteers have recently cleared around the shed and will soon be reworking the roof (which is relatively new in this picture.)

Bleak Hall barn in 1967, it no longer has a roof. Jacobs well in a picture from 1910.
Bleak Hall barn
The building no longer has a roof
(burned shortly after this picture)
but the barn was clearly still in
use in 1967

Jacob's Well in a picture from 1910
This is the "bee hive well" still on the property. According to Mrs. Head this sat near the border between Sea Cloud Plantation and Bleak Hall Plantation. The 1910 photo shows a straight top to the well opening and the present day one has an arch. The smooth surface that was applied over the bricks has worn away and left the bare bricks exposed, including the arch design that can be seen above the straight top in the 1910 photo.


The large acreage has protected many species of
both plants and animals.

Sarah Harleston "Saida" Ball Townsend with sea bass caught off Botany Bay in 1953.






In this 1953 photograph Mrs. Sarah Harleston "Saida" Ball Townsend displays fish she caught off of Botany Bay with a surf rod. Her granddaughter remembers that she used shrimp for bait and stood about hip deep in the ocean to catch them.

The picture was taken at her house in Charleston after she returned home from Edisto. Mrs. Head says that she remembers the fish were too large to fit in the oven whole. She believes these were sea bass and says they often caught drum as well at Botany.


Sea oxyeye gulf fritillary on seaside goldenrod
These pictures by Bess Watson were shared with her Botany Bay Buddies, the volunteers who work to help SC DNR. The one on the left is Sea Oxeye, a common marsh plant on Edisto. If you would like to
volunteer at Botany e mail us and we will put you in touch with Bess.

Here a gulf fritillary butterfly stops on seaside goldenrod, also a very common Edisto plant. The number and variety of butterflies on Botany is a constant source of interest to its visitors.


salt cedar, a hardy variety which has adapted to the salt spray Perinneal glasswort is another marshland plant
Salt Cedar, often seen growing nearly in the marsh, is a salt tolerant low country tree.
Perennial glasswort is another of Edisto's common marsh plants.
Honeysuckle perfumes the air. beautiful purple flowers beside the road wild blackberries bloom in late April
This shot of wild honesuckle shows its grace but can not show its fragrance. Even the smallest of wildflowers can be quite lovely when you slow down and really look at them. The blooms of wild blackberries entice the bees and the tiny stickers can catch a casual passerby unaware.
Take a look at more of what Botany has to offer:

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