Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cypress Gardens, Part I

One of my best friends from high school, who lives in Colorado now, happened to be visiting home at the same time as me. We decided to spend a day together at Cypress Gardens, one of the most beautiful places in South Carolina, conveniently located 20 minutes from our hometown.

Cypress Gardens (not to be confused with the one in Florida) is a 170 acre preserve, the majority of which is comprised of cypress swamp.

The cypress trees reflect endlessly in the blackwater, which is covered by lilypads and inhabited by 30 some-odd alligators, bullfrogs, egrets and many more animals.

Cypress trees are easily identified because of the 'knees' that project upward around them. The real purpose of these knees is unknown, but the growths are thought to provide extra oxygen to the tree, and to anchor them in the shifting soil of the swamp.

Essentially, the swamp is a flooded forest.

You can explore it by a footpath that winds along the water's edge, but as the close proximity to lounging alligators scared us a bit, we opted for a guided boat tour.

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