Regis Pluchet, a great-great-great-nephew of André Michaux, visited Drayton Hall earlier this month while touring the same areas of the southern United States that his ancestor explored. George McDaniel, executive director of Drayton Hall, described Pluchet’s visit as “a living connection to a remarkable botanist, explorer, and friend of Charles Drayton during the scientific enlightenment.” Pluchet remarked that he was appreciative of the preservation philosophy of Drayton Hall that allowed him to see what his ancestor would have seen, including the ancient live oaks and the unspoiled view of the Ashley River.
In 1786 Michaux established his French botanical garden across the river from Drayton Hall. Charles Drayton, the second-generation owner of Drayton Hall, wrote of his friendship with Michaux. For the kindness of loaning a horse to Michaux, Charles was given “9 Genea of rare plants & Shrubs” from Michaux’s garden. Charles visited Michaux’s “French botanic garden” multiple times and received plants and shrubs which he noted in lists. Michaux left Charleston in 1796, but his legacy remained. He introduced many species to America from various parts of the world, including the camellia, tea olive, and crepe myrtle. Pluchet is publishing a book this summer on Michaux’s travels to Persia.