“Botanical Gardens Will Some Day Be Famous Beauty Spot.”

That was the headline on an Orangeburg newspaper article by C.C. Berry on Aug. 2, 1927, in the early days of the Edisto Memorial Gardens.

Berry’s prediction and the city fathers’ vision were right on target as Edisto Gardens is today a popular tourist attraction for many in-state and out-of-state visitors.

Recently, however, one part of the gardens was off-limits to the public.

The 2,700-foot boardwalk suffered “significant” damage to nearly 750 linear feet at various locations during the 2015 flood and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

The boardwalk was closed for nearly five years.

Repairs began on the Horne Wetlands Park in Edisto Memorial Gardens in June 2019 and were completed around March 2020.

The $409,000 renovation project included the repair of portions of the wooden boardwalk and the complete replacement of other portions.

Orangeburg Assistant City Administrator John Singh said about 40 sections of the boardwalk had extensive repairs completed.

“The areas that were repaired were pile driven 12 feet,” Singh said.

The contractor was finding some of the old pilings were buried only about 2 feet into the ground, he said.

The construction restored the boardwalk, which was built in 1991, to its original condition.

J.D. Gaskins Construction Inc. of Aiken did the work.

“The project was a very technical project and was tight to get equipment in,” Singh said. “There was a lot of hand work involved.”

“We will have to budget in the future to have a 1-2 year inspection of the whole boardwalk since we now have a mix of old and new sections,” Singh said. “We are very pleased with this project since it is a treasure along the Edisto and part of the whole Edisto Gardens experience.”

Chris Wigginton of Technika Engineering conducted the engineering on the project to ensure that the boardwalk is code-compliant and able to withstand future flooding.

Federal Emergency Management Agency funding helped to pay for about 75% of the repairs, or about $306,750. The remaining portion was paid through the city’s 2% hospitality tax fund.

The Horne Wetlands Park was initially dedicated Sept. 20, 1992.

The boardwalk takes visitors through a wetland populated by tupelo and cypress trees. A cypress display case on the boardwalk provides visitors with information about life on and near the Edisto River. Boaters can pull up to the dock and enjoy the gazebo. The boardwalk is fully accessible.

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