Mrs. Hipp in Charleston Magazine

From November through February, Laura Wichmann Hipp hangs a handwritten sign on her Tradd Street fence post:

The golf ball size citrus fruits you see on these trees are calamondin oranges, which make the queen of marmalades. The Queen of England has a tree that I have seen in her orangery at Buckingham Palace. You can imagine that perhaps she enjoys calamondin marmalade on her toast, as we do, too!

“A lot of people are curious about what the fruit is. Others knock on my door to ask if they can harvest it,” laughs Laura of the oranges along the fence separating her lawn from the Coast Guard Base. “The sign is a nice way to let them know I use the fruit.”

Laura planted the calamondins six years after she, husband Preston, and their three daughters moved into the home in 1998. “I thought a citrus grove would be more interesting than a staid hedge. And of course, oranges are very much part of the peninsula’s history,” says the Holy City native and pro tour guide.

She also needed the calamondins to carry on another tradition: marmalade-making. “While I was on the Preservation Society of Charleston board in the late 1980s, a colleague, Katherine Whimpy Carey, brought me a bag of calamondins along with her mother’s marmalade recipe,” says Laura. Over the years, those gifts have yielded many more. The Hipps make large batches to give as holiday presents and donate to St. Philip’s Church for sale in their spring tearoom.

The spread has also become a signature element of the Charleston Tea Party Tours Laura has run for some 20 years . These intimate affairs—which visit private downtown houses and gardens before ending with lunch in the Hipps’ home—have been mentioned in publications such as The Washington Post and Financial Times of London’s How to Spend It magazine. “For tour guests, I’ll use marmalade on top of a goat cheese salad, in a tart, or to glaze a cake,” says Laura. “The idea is to give visitors a taste of Charleston hospitality.”

For this same reason, when the Hipps’ flagstone walk is clouded by summer zinnias, Laura puts another sign in her yard: If you enjoy my flowers, please pick some so you can have flowers in your home, too.

“These days, people need extra gestures of kindness. Offering them flowers from your garden or marmalade from your kitchen can turn their day around,” says Laura. And that’s Charleston hospitality at its finest.

Full Story Here



Filed under Press

3 responses to “Mrs. Hipp in Charleston Magazine

  1. Jennifer L Grayson

    I was blessed to be able to take this tour a week ago and am still reeling from the sights and scents of a lovely day spent in the gardens and homes of many of Laura’s friends. The tea was magnificent and the hospitality unmatched. My friends and I enjoyed ourselves immensely!

  2. LaNita

    WOW! Each article is so interesting! Now i have seen you and you are younger than i thought you sounded on the phone – you have a great voice with it’s touch of the South! If you were me – knowing all you do about this tour – WHEN would you go???
    Blessings, LaNita

  3. Virginia S. Forbes

    I am a lawyer from Miami, FL and this past week had to be in Charleston to take a deposition. I had been to Charleston only once before and vowed that the next time I would make time to take an official “tour” of this unique and charming city. I found Laura’s web site on the net and contacted her to book her morning tour on the day that I left, because the only direct flight I could get home left in the afternoon. My only regret is that I didn’t book it as the FIRST thing that I did there, rather than the last.

    If anyone is reading this blog who travels more on business than for pleasure — like me — I can only suggest that when business requires you to be in Charleston, contact Laura Wichmann Hipp first, and book her tour. Make time in your schedule to do it, if at all possible. You will thank yourself for doing so. As only a true Charlestonian could know, Laura can tell you (or recommend) where to stay, where to eat and whether you should make reservations in advance, including what you simply MUST see (beyond that which she will show you — which is quite amazing, actually). Her intimate knowledge of Charleston, coupled with her substantial education and experience in historical matters particular to Charleston make her a veritable treasure chest of information you could not possible get elsewhere. She is also the only ticket in town to get you literally inside some of those incredible grand houses and gardens that one usually merely drives or walks by and wonders what it would be like to really see. This is truly an “insider’s” tour.

    Laura herself is the epitome of southern hospitality. The tour begins and ends in her own home, with the same exceedingly rare intimacy that she brings to the tour itself. At the end, she serves a luncheon which, remarkably, she has prepared herself and serves. Our salad came from her own garden, which she picked at the end of the tour. The marinade for the perfectly poached chicken was from marinated loquats in her garden — a recipe I asked for, but was ever-so-graciously advised that if she told me, she’d have to kill me. It was one of the best meals I ate in Charleston — which says quite a bit given the incredible number of fine restaurants there (which I can also attest to). She makes it all look easy — as only certain people can. I was late for my flight and couldn’t stay for the tea and (home-made) scones. Laura took me aside from her other guests and wrapped up a warm scone from the oven in foil and sent me on my way.

    This is not a tour for the fast and furious. But, if you you desire — as I do — the rare opportunity to step back from the burdens of schedules and life for a few rare hours, this is the tour you want to take. It is a feast for all senses — and a folded hand of grace in these times.

    Thank you Laura. I will return.

    Virginia S. Forbes

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