Named for Dr. Alexander Garden. Garden lived in Charles Town (Charleston) and was famous in his time as a naturalist, botanist, zoologist, and physician. However he was pretty much kicked out after he sided with the British during the American Revolution. He actually sent a congratulatory letter to Cornwallis after the Battle of Camden. While he was in Charleston he did lots of good and saved many lives by vaccinating for smallpox. Oh he never studied the gardenia, it was just a nice gesture to honor him for his other good works and for sending so many specimens from the US to Europe in his day.
*Thank you to Debbie Hayes a Master Gardener of Outdoor Appearance for the photo above and statement above.
Comments made by Professor David Shields
A lot of Alexander's Papers are in the University of Aberdeen. I went to take a look at them back in 1986. His son who was not a loyalist stayed on in SC and kept part of the family property in tact.
There is an extensive description of Otranto in a 1776 poem called Carolina or the Planter by George Oglivie. Mr. Shields edited that poem for the Southern Literary Journal back in the 1980s.
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thanks to Early American Gardens