Rabbit Tobacco, Sour Grass, Camp Meeting, and Oh Yes…Roses!

Dear Reader:

Doesn’t the title photo just make you gasp and inhale once again? There was double, triple, and even more combinations of roses and attached buds that ‘blew my mind’ in their unique beauties at the Edisto Memorial Gardens.

These gardens are located on a by-gone Civil War site. Historically on February 12, 1865, six hundred Confederate soldiers temporarily halted the advancement of the Union Army on what is now known as Edisto Memorial Gardens. A bronze marker across from the Edisto River commemorates this site.

Today the memorial statue welcoming visitors to the gardens remembers and honors veterans from WWI, WWII, Korea and the Vietnam wars. Over the years the (now famous) rose gardens have grown and grown encompassing close to 200 acres of roses gardens,a  butterfly garden, a serenity garden, and a sensory garden.

Every year on the weekend before Mothers’ Day the South Carolina Festival of Roses is held in honor of our veterans and their sacrifices…along with the sacrifices and love of mothers everywhere. And what is more perfect than a rose on Mother’s Day?…Thus this touching statue sculpted for the special occasion.

This statue of a little girl throwing bread to the ducks and turtles in the ponds around the gardens, remind me of myself doing the same thing at that age and now watching my grandchildren continue the practice.

The roses weren’t quite at peak time but should be by the time of the festival. Phillip Carnley, an Assistant Horticulturist, travels back and forth every day from Aiken to Orangeburg to be present to answer questions and oversee the Memorial Gardens. He was so nice and pointed out several areas roped off for experimental tests of roses sent from large companies like Jackson and Perkins.

Here is just a small sampling of the some of the photos we took…

This scene made us laugh…obviously someone, planted a pink rose bush smack dab in the middle of a long row of orange roses. What a lovely mistake! It just goes to show that diversity only adds to the beauty of our world.



Mev pointed out this rose and called the stage it was in “Promise.” She once wrote a poem about it. It is the stage of development where the bloom is almost fully developed… but not quite. There is still the promise, the mystery of the unknown, left to fully unfold. Mev’s favorite stage. Here are some of Deb’s favorite rose pictures.



We all loved the “Yellow Rose of Texas” roses!



The nature trails we traveled around are called the Tupelo-Cypress Wetlands. They form a natural perimeter around the gardens…including the old Water Wagon Wheel

Cypress reminds me of a story Deb told…she pointed to these strange looking stumps surrounding a tree and said they were Cypress Stumps...When she was just married they traveled to Florida and paid money to vendors for a ‘cypress stump.’ (When she just could have dug one up back home.)  She blamed it on love. *(I, personally,  thought the stumps look like ancient little people, dressed in robes and hoods,  in a village around the tree.)

It was on the way back home that we decided to stop at the Indian Fields Methodist Campground…located outside St. George. I had always heard about the October “Tent” meetings and listened with curiosity as other teachers or folks talked about it… the great fellowship and especially the great food but I have never been…so I was delighted to actually see it, upclose and personal,  for the first time.

On the way there we had a debate on ‘rabbit tobacco.‘ Deb was pointing out some fields of it and how the young boys would pick it and try to smoke it…. Mev said she thought the fields we passed were sour grass fields and not “rabbit tobacco’…people chewed on it for the sour taste…it was funny how in one day I had learned about rabbit tobacco and sour grass...two terms not in my prior vocabulary!

Thursday evening Deb found an interesting article on it…to summarize…rabbit tobacco can be used as a home remedy cure for chest congestion. It should be picked after the leaves turn a traditional silvery-green color in the fall. In order for it to develop medicinal components…it must be dried in the ground.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when we arrived at the camp ground…but the stories from the memories of my fellow passengers brought back such nostalgic looks of wonder and delight at the time spent there…I knew this was a special place for all.

Here’s just a short background synopsis for others, like me, who never attended a tent meeting.

The existing campground consists of the central tabernacle surrounded by ninety-nine cabins of wooden construction. These cabins are referred to as “tents”. Although is frequently stated that the tents are arrayed in a circle;  they are actually arranged roughly in an octagon.

The tabernacle is a wooden pavilion with a gablet roof. The roof has exposed rafters and is supported by wooden posts. The pavilion has a raised preacher’s stand at its northern end and three sections of wooden pews.It seats over 1,000

The “tents” have a metal roof and are of two stories. The internal layout of each tent varies, but typically each has two upstairs bedrooms with a central stairway. The downstairs usually has a dining area towards the front and another bedroom at the rear.

Historically the occupants of the upstairs bedrooms were divided by gender, while the downstairs bedroom was reserved for the older members of the family. The downstairs rooms may be connected with a hallway, or the rooms may have individual exterior doors. The downstairs areas have dirt floors that are typically covered with straw during camp meetings.

The cooking area is below a shed attached to the rear of the tent. There is a wood-burning brick or cinderblock fireplace under the cook shed, and usually a small room for the cook’s quarters.

Here are some of the photos of Mev and her family’s tent and corresponding outhouse. The tabernacle or church was in the center of the 99 “tents” –  The focal point of the camping experience.

Inside the Tabernacle…


One of the stories I especially liked dealt with an unique version of the word “promenade.” Young girls would wait outside their tents in the evening hoping a young man would ask them to promenade around the circle located  in front of the tents and tabernacle.

If things went really well…the boy would buy the girl a “sherbet”…a type of pineapple/orange sherbet that was much sought after and appreciated. Stories of first romances and even meeting the man  of a girl’s dreams were told and re-told at camp meetings…. even engagement proposals! And it all happened in early October.

It was a “spiritual” and (sometimes) a  romantic “con-spiritual” time to be had.

So until tomorrow…the next time you feel bored or distracted…head for the back roads of your town or state and just have fun…there is a whole lot of history waiting to be told!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Jo left me with this wonderful anecdote yesterday that I must share with you….it deals with the grammatical error of not ending a sentence with a preposition…

I believe it was Churchill who said something like, “Such nonsense as this, I will not put up with.”  He was reminded about the preposition rule, so he said, “Okay, This is  nonsense up with which I will not put.”   Just thought it might give you a smile this morning.

It did! 🙂

Walsh, Mollie, and the children spent a couple of days at Fripp Island visiting Mollie’s Aunt Sue…she and her husband divide the year between New England and Fripp Island. They are heading back soon so Walsh and Mollie wanted to see them one more time before they left and this time nobody got sick…especially with the flu…You might remember that started it all the last time they visited. Hurrah! The curse is over!







About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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6 Responses to Rabbit Tobacco, Sour Grass, Camp Meeting, and Oh Yes…Roses!

  1. Jo Dufford says:

    Thanks, Becky, you really know how to turn an adventure into a good story. You are a great listener, and that makes you a true storyteller.


  2. bcparkison says:

    What beautiful roses. Must have been a fun trip.
    Please don’t feed the ducks bread. Is is bad for them. Take popcorn instead.
    My MnL had a Cypress tree in her front yard. Big and really pretty but mowing the yard was almost impossible because of the knees. We had to cut them down first but they just came back. There is a Cypress swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. Fun trail to walk through it.


  3. Becky Dingle says:

    Never knew that about ducks….my grandchildren just feed turtles so no harm done…cypress stumps are weird looking


  4. Joan says:

    Such a wonderful trip…I love going places via your descriptive writing skills and stunning photos!
    I smell the roses, the earth and the old wood❤️


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Oh…you are too sweet. I live vicariously through other friends who travel the world…it is a great way to travel without having to go through airplane customs, waiting lines,, exchange of money, new languages, etc. I can just sit comfortably at home and follow along.


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