FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - At first glance from where the pavement meets the gravel, Moore Farms appears lush and quant- but modest.
It takes only a few steps to realize there is something absolutely extraordinary about this back yard. With 500 sprawling acres and a large portion of it still an active farm growing soybeans and corn, it's easy to allow the name Moore Farms can fool you.
"It's a bonified botanical garden," says owner, Darla Moore.
Darla is the epitome of a southern belle, her sharp mind and thick southern accent is infectious and charming. This place is her sanctuary.
"My grandmother and I, I couldn't have been more than 5 years old. We would go out there with lunch and a blanket and we'd just plop down in the middle of an oat field. It was like being in a secret hiding place. and it was just powerful in its memory."
With those memories from her wild and free childhood days, Darla transformed her Grandparent's space into her real life secret garden.
As you stroll through the 30 acres of winding paths, lush gardens, pastures and pine dominated vistas, your problems melt into the warm spring air.
Here, there are no honks, no sounds of the highway, just you and the best of mother nature's creations.
"Because of the variety and diversity of the plant life, it can be refereed to as a plant nerds dream. A plant nerds paradise"
One of those plant nerds is Ethan Kauffman. This garden manager is in charge of keeping track of each of the 5,000 different kinds of plants that make up Moore Farms.
"It's a complete passion for me. I have it in my blood. Every day that I wake up I can't wait to walk out into the garden and get to work and see what's going on," says Kauffman.
Moore Farms is actually one of the most sophisticated botanical gardens in the state that's currently conducting cutting edge research in horticulture.
Kauffman says, "Its very new and there aren't many examples of green roofs here yet."
Since 2011, Ethan, his crew and interns have been collecting data on this green roof, testing which plants grow best in our climate in this part of the state. Research that until now, hasn't really been done.
For Darla, her love for creating beautiful things and for her hometown of Lake City runs deep. "It just embodies all of the happy memories that I had. It was the happiest period of my whole life. So I just have deep deep affection for the place."
Even during the short time WMBF News spent at Moore Farms, it's clear that Darla's vision for this botanical masterpiece isn't just for her. It's also about creating a place where folks not from these parts can experience a different side of Lake city. In fact, just since the beginning of 2012, 2,000 people have already taken the time to well, stop and smell the flowers.