• Jennifer Jewell

THEODORA PARK: A (MOTHERING) PUBLIC PARK IN CHARLESTON, SC with DAVID RAWLE


FOODSCAPING - with Brie Arthur. Photo courtesy of Brie Arthur, all rights reserved.
 

 



David Rawle is the founder and force (with contribution and support from his wife, Carol Perkins, and a wide variety of community members in Charleston, SC), behind Theodora Park, a public park in Charleston - designed and cared for (with financial and care planning for the long haul) in a way that is reminiscent of the very best of private gardens: it is open, it is both lively and tranquil, it is filled with beautiful seasonal (native and non-native) plants, it offers places to sit, to play, to splash as well as to gather; it offers artful views representative of and inviting for the entire community - residents and visitors alike - human and more-than-human alike.


Theodora Park was opened in 2015 and is dedicated to the memory of David’s mother - Theodora.


From the History of Theodora Park in the dedication:


Origin Theodora Park was dedicated on June 5, 2015. Previously, this small property in Charleston’s Ansonborough neighborhood was a fenced-in, neglected public space. It was covered with magnolia trees whose density and droppings kept the ground dirty, wet and buggy. At night, it felt dark and dangerous. The property was on a prominent corner which David Rawle, a neighbor, passed by daily. He wished it could be beautiful. He kept wondering if he could help transform it into a small urban oasis that might inspire others to improve neglected and underutilized green spaces. And he hoped to do so in honor of his mother, a graceful and caring person, who loved nature and art.

Paley Park, the legendary pocket park in New York City, was an inspiration. That park, as vital today as it was when it opened more than half a century ago, honors the father of its catalyst, William Paley. Charleston is famous for its beautiful private gardens. But since they are private, many people are unable to enjoy them. The concept of Theodora Park was to create a public space with the intention, individuality, and level of excellence associated with a space that is private. There were two essential ingredients to turning that concept into reality: the collaboration of entities and individuals committed to excellence; the broad-based financial support from both private and public sectors.


Process The collaboration began with the City of Charleston and Charleston Parks Conservancy, and it extended to a team of best-in-class designers and artisans.

Sheila Wertimer’s landscape design is brilliant in its simplicity. The layout is clear and unembellished, and the planting includes local staples such as live oaks, magnolias, palmettos, sasanquas, camellias, azaleas, red maples, jasmine, and holly ferns.

The park’s centerpiece is 32-ft.-long fountain pool, with 350 12x12” unique handmade tiles created by the noted ceramicist Paul Heroux.


Happy Mother’s Day to all mothering souls and spaces - may all of our gardens, public and private, be welcoming, nurturing – shall we say mothering - places for all. Listen in!


All Photos Courtesy of Theodora Park, David Rawle & Carol Perkins




IF YOU LIKE THIS PROGAM,

you might also enjoy these Best of CP programs in our archive:


The Garden Curator, Colleen Southwell

Recalibrating Our Nervous Systems, the Floral Artistry of Max Gill

The Botanical Artistry of Julia Lucey


JOIN US again next week, when we head to Charleston South Carolina to enjoy the sights, sounds, and full spectrum community in a small public park known as Theodora Park, the vision of longtime Charleston, SC resident David Rawle in honor of his mother, Theodora. Listen in!

 

Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from the California Native Plant Society, on a mission to save California’s native plants and places using both head and heart. CNPS brings together science, education, conservation, and gardening to power the native plant movement. California is a biodiversity hotspot and CNPS is working to save the plants that make it so.


For more information on their programs and membership, please visit https://www.cnps.org/


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Thinking out loud this week:


When I think of the word mothering, I certainly see (and miss) my own mother. But I also think of all of the souls human and geo-spatial that have grown me up more fully. They have all contributed to my growth, and supported that growth along the way. Thank you to every person who contributes to the support and growth of Cultivating Place – in the second half of 2021 and the first part of 2022 that includes: Flora Adriana Aimee Andrew Amanda Bethann Karen Charlotte Chad Charisse Clare Mary Pat Cpetty Claire Donna Ellen, Gwen, Erica, Evelyn, Frank, Fielding, Gus, David, Hugh, Kim, Camilla, Jan, Janice, Josh, Karen, Kate, Kathleen, Karen, Krista, Christy, Leslie, Laura, Libby, Lily Ann, Linda, Liz, Weezie, Jason, Maria, Marcia, Marcy, Glenn ,Donald, Mac, Maggie, Marni, Mary, Maureen, Mary, Melissa, Cathie, Kathy, Mary, Mary, Nancy, Pamela, Page, Paula, Peggy, Pen, Perla, Patricia, Paulette, Jennifer, Rachel, Rebecca, Rebecca, Richard, Rebecca, Sabrina, Ruth, Sarah, Sarah, Sayaka, Saxon, Sheila, Susan, Shannon, Sylvia, Steve, Susan, Nan, Madison, Sophia, Teri, Trisha, Mary, Nina, Vanessa, Violet, and Tish - and if I have forgotten your name please accept my apologies because for everyone who has contributed to the growth of Cultivating Place this episode is my Mother’s Day thank you card to you. I literally cannot do this weekly work of Cultivating Place without your support – and I hope you have grown here with me.


If you have not yet had a chance to contribute to Cultivating Place and our communal engagement, empowerment and encouragement of great growing gardeners the world over, but you would like to – heck you might even keep meaning to- there is no time like right now the start of the growing season – follow the links at the support button which you will find at the top or right hand corner of every page here at Cultivating Place.com. And thank you in advance!


In thinking about this model of public park – this s – hearing echoes of our conversation of two weeks ago with Dede and John of National Association for Olmsted Parks and the Audubon Society respectively and their work reviving not just Olmsted parks across the country but all parks, I think of Rebecca McMackin’s work uplifting park management and care as well as the quality of living and working for park people, and of Terremoto in Southern California, of Refugia in Pennsylvania, of Doug Tallamy and Edwina Von Gal and Home Grown National Park and 2/3rds 4 the Birds - we can all learn from these stories and these models and contribute more proactively in the parks of our lives I think.


I would love your thoughts on this – are there other unique public private maybe especially rematriated land and care to first people’s that you think are good models for us all to learn from? If so – send me the names of these park and peoples – how they become well stewarded, and welcoming places for all!


You know how: send me a comment on Instagram or send me an email: cultivatingplace@gmail.com


 

 

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