In 1975, J. C. Raulston arrived in the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State University to teach and to start an arboretum which would serve as a living laboratory for students and faculty, and a resource for professionals in the green industry and for the public. In 1976, with a master plan drawn up by his graduate student, Fielding Scarborough, J. C. made the first plantings at the North Carolina State University Research Farm Unit 4 (now the Horticultural Field Laboratory) on Beryl Road on portions of an eight acre parcel designated as the NCSU Arboretum, assisted by his research technician Newell Hancock and a few dedicated students. Over the years, the Arboretum would grow to ten and a half contiguous acres, be renamed in his memory as the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University, and achieve international recognition for its imaginative use of resources and the excellence of its plant collections.
Since J. C.'s death in 1996, the Arboretum has moved forward under the directorships of Bryce Lane, Bob Lyons, Kim Powell, Denny Werner, and Ted Bilderback. In 2002, the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center provided needed space for offices, meeting rooms, and educational classroom space, while staff buildings and a visitor center allowed for the growing number of activities and for staff, volunteers, and supporters to participate on-site in the life, maintenance, and mission of the JC Raulston Arboretum.
Early landscaped garden areas included the Perennial Border, Mixed Border, White Garden, Lath House, Rose Garden, Winter Garden, and student-designed Model Gardens and the Necessary. Periodically rebuilt, revised, and replanted, these areas were later joined by the Asian Valley, Plantsmen's Woods, the Swindell Contemplation Garden, Xeric Garden, Scree Garden, and numerous other gardens and pathways made accessible for the disabled and all visitors. Outstanding plant collections grew and changed, including conifers, redbuds, magnolias, and others.
Follow our progress by viewing the photographs collections below (coming soon). Then, come see us to experience the ever changing year-round wonders of the Arboretum for yourself. We are open every day of the year, and we are free.