The beautiful black waters of Swan Lake set the background for Iris Gardens, located in Sumter, South Carolina.
Swan Lake is the only public park in the world to feature all eight species of swans: the Bewick swan, Royal White Mute swan, the Black Australian swan, the Coscoroba, the Whooper, the Trumpeter, Black Necked swan, and the Whistler swan.
Swan Lake is also the home to Canadian geese and ducks, including mallards, wood ducks, coots, canvasback, and widgeon.
Also present are Anhinga, egrets, Blue Herons, cranes, and Kingfisher.
White bread and crackers are a welcome treat, and you can quite often feed the birds directly from your hand!
Swan Lake is also teeming with other wildlife in addition to the geese, swans, and ducks. Box turtles and snapping turtles can be found, along with many varieties of fish, including bass, catfish, and bream.
There are two sections to the Swan Lake Iris Gardens grounds: the lake which is located on the north side of Liberty Street and a swampy marsh on the south side. The northern section began as a fishpond, bird, sanctuary, and garden for Mr. Hamilton Carr Bland in 1927 when he purchased the property.
Mr. Bland cleared the area and had islands built. He also planted Japanese irises. These irises are a big part of Swan Lake Iris Gardens. An annual celebration called The Iris Festival takes place over Memorial Day weekend.
A trail extends for ¾ of a mile around Swan Lake with arched bridges and benches. It makes for a beautiful walk and you can feed the birds and enjoy nature.
The northern section of Swan Lake Iris Gardens is known as the Heath Gardens.
It was deeded over to the city of Sumter in 1938 with the stipulation that it be developed by Mr. Bland as part of the gardens. It has many flowers, including the Japanese iris, and also features a beautiful gazebo where many weddings take place.
A shorter path is located in the Heath Gardens and includes a cypress boardwalk which extends about 1,000 feet out into the swamp.
There is no fee for admission to either section of Swan Lake Iris Gardens, and everything located there is wheelchair accessible. Recommended time to allot for visitation of the grounds is two hours, although I would recommend a bit longer.
If you're ever in the area of Sumter, South Carolina or are planning a trip to South Carolina, I would highly recommend working Swan Lake Iris Gardens into your trip! It's a beautiful, peaceful place well worth the time to visit!