Saturday, April 10, 2010

This Roof Top Xeriscaped Garden Grows in an Unlikely Space

Last night my husband, daughter, and I went to eat at a Charleston institution. Bowen's Island Restaurant near Folly Beach: fresh roasted oysters, seafood, and beer. It was an exciting outing mostly because this is where Lee and I were married 13 years ago, and now our daughter would see it for the first time. After a fire destroyed it nearly four years ago just months after winning the 2006 James Beard award for food preservation, it's now back open for business! If you've never been there it's likely that you won't get it at first. You hear everyone asking, "Where do we order our food?" "Where do we sit?" "Where is the restaurant?" It epitomizes "casual." I mean, where else can you eat and sit right next to a room full of old refrigerators (not the cool vintage kind, just the old junky kind) piled up on top of one another?

As we were climbing the stairs and getting our first look of the sun setting over the creek for the first time in 13 years, I noticed that the roof of one of the old outbuildings had a full-on rooftop garden. How spectacular. I couldn't help but wonder, seeing as there is junk everywhere, "How could someone have thought to add such a beautiful touch?" So instead of staring right down on to a hot gravel roof, patrons will have something interesting to look at as they meander up five zig zagging ramps to the 3rd floor bar and dining area that is nearing completion.

Amazing cacti that bask in the all-day sun, rosemary that trails over the edge, flowering dianthus, a few varieties of ornamental grasses expertly clumped together, and some other small "stepable" succulents. I thought the design, or the "layout" was so well done. Room to grow and fill in but still very interesting to look at right now. A small oyster sculpture that punctuates one side is the only indication of how the garden relates to the restaurant at all.

Dinner was delicious. I had the crab cake platter, Lee had the fried shrimp platter, and Piper had the chicken fingers. And as we left I had to look at the rooftop garden one more time....a brand new lasting memory of Bowen's Island for all three of us.

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