Gala in the garden

At the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, N.C., a spring gala celebrates exciting changes at the well-known garden.

Courtesy of Helen Yoest
Each year for more than 20 years, the JC Rauston Arboretum in Raleigh, N.C., has held a spring fundraiser, Gala in the Garden. This year it features many new gardens
Courtesy of Helen Yoest
Early May is a beautiful time in the gardens of the JC Raulston Arborteum.
Courtesy of Helen Yoest
Visitors to Gala in the Garden are sure to pick up ideas for their own gardens at home.

Many will come in festive hats, others in their finest garden-party attire, while some won't care what they're wearing as they make a beeline to the botanicals to see what was donated for this year’s event.

The Gala in the Garden at the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, N.C., draws the diverse gardening community that surrounds the arboretum and beyond. For more than 20 years, on the first Sunday in May, Gala in the Garden has been held at this nationally acclaimed arboretum.

Changes at the arboretum

For those of you who haven't visited the JC Raulston Arboretum in a while (or ever), you will be enthralled. The arboretum has undergone many major changes with the implementation of the volunteer-driven master plan.

During this year’s event, the newly designed Japanese Garden will be open for you to see. This new garden is set in a natural setting, designed with a Japanese garden's sensibilities.

Not far from the Japanese Garden will be a work in progress. The construction of the new Lath House is underway. Designed by the notable environmental architect Frank Harmon, the Lath House is designed to grow plants requiring certain lighting conditions.

To date, along with the Japanese Garden, the Lagerstroemia Circle, the Central Path, the Southwest Garden, and the Asian Valley have been completed. “All of these projects have made vast improvements to circulation and accessibility and have provided more planting area for the ever-growing number of plants,” says Harriet Bellerjeau, landscape designer and master plan co-chair.

Many plants in bloom

While strolling through the gardens in early May, you will find the Finley-Nottingham Rose Garden beginning to bloom. Throughout the arboretum, many flowers will be in bloom, including several varieties of Viburnum, Deutzia, Baptisia, Salvia Greggii, American wisteria, and even red hot pokers.

In addition to viewing the gardens during the gala, guests can listen to music, and bid on unusual botanical and gift items. It’s interesting to note the unusual varieties of plants that grow in our area, such as Magnolia sieboldii, various kinds of smoke bush, and Clematis addisonii along with many Southern favorites such as sweetspire, Dianthus, Leucothoe, iris, and lavender.

Strolling the grounds of the JC Raulston Arboretum during the Gala will inspire you to grow more in your garden at home.

If you go: Gala in the Garden will be held May 1, 3 to 7 the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University, 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, N.C. For tickets or more information, contact Anne Porter at (919) 513-3463 or

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Helen Yoest lives in North Carolina and writes about Gardening With Confidence. She's a garden writer, speaker, and garden coach. She's also a field editor for Better Homes and Gardens and Country Gardens magazines and serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum. You can follow Helen on Twitter and Facebook. To read more by Helen here at Diggin' It, click here.

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