Columbia Star

A new South Carolina treasure shines

South Carolina’s Magnolia Planation and Gardens in Charleston, among the most beautiful in America, has a valuable addition with the contributions of nationally known horticulturist Kirk R. Brown, formerly of Philadelphia, now serving as its outreach coordinator.

Brown is also recognized for his impersonations of two of America’s foremost practitioners of the art of gardening, John Bartram and Frederick Law Olmsted. A former president of the Garden Writers Association, Brown also delivers design and garden history lectures as himself.

“Magnolia Gardens is fortunate to have him under their wings… and among their blossoms,” says Dr. Arlene Marturano, garden columnist for The Columbia Star. Just recently, at the January 16 meeting of the Columbia Garden Club, with CGC President Sharon Shuler presiding, Brown gave his presentation on Bartram, the father of American Botany. His program featuring Bartram as America’s First Master Gardener won the first-ever Silver Award for Garden Communication, Live Performance.

In his Bartram performance, Brown presents the horticultural history of America as it began in Philadelphia and Penn’s Woods. His story starts at the very beginning of the international world of plant discovery and identification. Voicing Bartram’s love of the earth, Brown uses his own humor and passion for nature in sharing his hope for earth’s environmental future.

His time travel earns him rave reviews and standing ovations from audiences of Master Gardeners, Garden Club Members, and industry professionals. “Kirk’s portrayal of America’s first worldclass plantsman is a masterful blend—passionate, humorous, moving, and educational but never pedantic. Meticulous research and an obvious affection for the subject enables him to fully inhabit the role, not just the costume,” says John Friel of Green Leaf Perennials/Yoder Brothers in a review.

Appointed to his position at Magnolia in 2018, Brown is now a member of the board of directors for the South Carolina Garden Club and a recipient of the “Green Achiever” Award for advancing horticulture in Pennsylvania.

He has served as a judge of major exhibits for the Philadelphia Flower Show and been recognized with “Outstanding Design Awards” by Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association, the Perennial Plant Association, and the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. He has also been recognized with a Pennsylvania Green Award by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Pennsylvania Green Commission.

A graduate of Cornell University, Brown has been published in Homestyle and Gardening (A Family Circle Magazine), American Nurseryman, Green Scene, From the Ground Up, Pleasure of Gardening and Quill, and Trowel, among others.

Now as national outreach coordinator at Magnolia, Brown promotes the plantation and gardens, selected as one of “America’s Most Beautiful” by Travel and Leisure magazine. Founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, Magnolia is the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry, and the oldest public gardens in America, opening its doors to visitors in 1870. Brown can be reached through Magnolia, (843) 571-1266, email

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