Charleston GardenWorks is the go-to firm for alfresco antiques
Patrick Bradley (left) and Glen Gardner; Right: An early-20th-century cast-iron Victorian birdbath restored and painted Charleston green
A passing glance beyond most Charleston garden gates presents a glorious slice of verdant, timeless grandeur. And it’s not only the hallmark camellias and fig vines that delight; it is often some pièce de résistance—an inviting cast-iron seat, a stately urn, an antique sundial.
And it may well be a treasure plucked from a scouting expedition by Patrick Bradley, a historic preservation enthusiast, or his partner, landscape architect Glen Gardner. Since establishing Charleston GardenWorks in 2014, the two have been searching far and wide to cull those rare and rarified pieces that were created to inspire—and built to weather the elements.
The company came to fruition when Bradley joined forces with Gardner, who had learned that his clients were yearning for high-end garden furnishings. “They would be looking for really special pieces, often an urn or a statue,” explains Bradley. “Glen would have to go out of state, mostly to Northeastern antiques dealers specializing in garden objects.”
A pop-up shop at the Preservation Society yielded results impressive enough that they started online sales, expanding in 2015 to showrooms at Fritz Porter and AIM on King. “I look for intriguing objects that are well made,” says Bradley, whose finds are often priced in the thousands. Can’t invest yourself? Peek politely through enough garden gates, and you’ll likely enjoy glimpses, at least, of some of their storied pieces.
Cast iron and wood serpent bench
A good focal point can elevate a garden just as much as flora and fauna. Here, some suggestions
Have a Seat: “Aside from being a decorative element, benches serve as a suggestion: ’Come have a seat in the garden,’” Bradley says.
Timing Matters: Form and function meet in an antique bronze sundial. A signature of iconic Charleston gardens like the one at Middleton Place, it provides timely, yet timeless, allure.
Make a Point: Create stirring vertical moments with spires, such as the ornate 19th-century marble pair Bradley recently found “that would have been in the apse of a church.”
Photographs by (3) Molly Zacher