We just spent a marvelous weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina in an escape from the last snowstorm (I hope) to hit Maryland this year. We had planned this weekend for a visit to the North Carolina nurseries but when a significant snowstorm threatened for last Thursday, we decided to skip town on Wednesday and I’m glad we did. It gave us an extra day to visit nurseries and gardens in the ‘Triangle’ area. Even four days is not sufficient to see all that this area offers to plant lovers. There are three major gardens in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill and we went to each.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University in Durham is what I would characterize as a display garden. It’s well funded and beautiful and has lots of examples of how to make a dramatic landscape.
It had many lovely individual plants including this daphne which illustrated how daphnes want to look in the wintertime as opposed to the burned leaves on ours.
The North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill also appears to have a lot of financial backing and it’s focus seems to be well-coupled to the University’s effort to encourage the use of native plants.
It’s set next to woodland trails and seems to get a lot of visitors for that reason.
But our favorite was the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh. This is a plantsman’s paradise. Many examples of exotic and unusual plants from all over the world including this dwarf Dawn Redwood.
It was still a little early in the season for any of these gardens but the Ralston captured our hearts.
One of the ulterior motives for this particular weekend was to attend an An Evening with the Plant Explorers at the JC Ralston. This was a wonderful event with 4 1/2 hours of tales of plant exploring mixed in with socializing and plant auctions. Anyone who thinks Latin is a dead language needs to attend one of these events. The plant auction was particularly interesting because it was often for plants that had been part of the explorers’ talks.
In particular we were taken by a marvelous Einkianthus, the likes of which we had never encountered.
Well, in the end this was our take-home plant from the auction…
The other main component of the weekend was visiting nurseries. First and foremost was Plant Delights (which has a bonus of a very nice garden as well). As usual we found many wonderful plants that jumped into our car.
There were three crates like this one that we brought home including many new hellebores.
And then we went out to Pine Knot Farms where the focus is hellebores.
And we came away with even more hellebores as well as multiple cyclamen from John Lonsdale and a Mahonia confuse ‘Narihira’ (which we had seen at Raulson) and Edgeworthia chrysantha from Superior Plants.
John Lonsdale says that Edgeworthia survives for him in Pennsylvania so I have high hopes for it in Maryland.
Lastly we stopped at Camellia Forest and picked up four new camellias and two exquisite miniature Rhododendrons.
Altogether a wonderful weekend, and by the time we arrived back home the spring was waiting for us…
Let me close with one more shot of that Einkianthus which I hope will be with us for a long time…