Hopelands Gardens is celebrating 50 years of being part of the City of Aiken. Operated under the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, the 14-acre estate of Winter Colonist Mrs. Charles Oliver Iselin, has since l970, provided visitors with quiet and peaceful gardens of excellence.
In l971, the Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch was started when a group of civic leaders supporting the acquisition of Hopelands Gardens, recognized the need to raise funds to help the City maintain the gardens. The Friends of Hopelands was created and later added “Rye Patch” when Rye Patch was donated in 1981.
For the past 49 years, the Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch have raised $1,700,000 in today’s dollars, for improvement and maintenance of the properties including the Roland H. Windham Performing Arts Stage, the renovation of the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame, and Museum, and the restoration of the Rye Patch Stables that exhibit the Historic Horses of Aiken. Over these years Aiken residents and visitors have given generously to the Friends to ensure that the Gardens remain a beautiful, integral part of the Aiken community.
Friends’ President Anna Dangerfield stated, “The Gardens have become a haven for the Aiken community during the pandemic. The Gardens provide a safe and beautiful place for a family walk or picnic, and it has been wonderful to see families enjoying the Gardens. The Friends thank the citizens of Aiken for their generosity in giving to the Friends over the years. We hope everyone will continue to come to the Gardens and enjoy the Gardens’ beauty or drop by on Tuesdays to Rye Patch for Story Time.
The Friends plan for the remainder of this year to undertake needed improvements of the grounds and entry into the Gardens. In 2021, in time to celebrate 50 years of collaboration between the Friends and the City of Aiken, the Gardens should be brought back to its original splendor.
The Gardens are free and open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to sunset. Visit the Birds and Butterfly Garden; the Labyrinth; the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum; the Carriage Museum; the Historic Horses of Aiken; the Doll House, home of the Garden Club Council of Aiken, as well as the beautiful 100-year-old live oaks, fountains, reflection pool, camellias, and magnolias.
To become a member of the Friends, interested parties should send a donation in any amount to the Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch, P.O. Box 2213, Aiken, SC 29802. Donations are tax deductible and should be made payable to The Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch.