NC State University JC Raulston Arboretum

March 2015 JCRA e-Update

JC Raulston Arboretum Helleborus ×hybridus 'Golden Sunrise'

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Narcissus 'Cassata'

Director's Note

By Mark Weathington, Director

A newspaper reporter called recently to ask me what we were doing to protect our plants from the cold. My response that we didn't do anything surprised him until I explained that the JC Raulston Arboretum's mission in part is to evaluate plants. I've been saying for several years that I wanted a real winter to test our plants and boy did we ever get one. We recorded a low of 3°F in an exposed spot but were probably closer to 7°F in much of the Arboretum. It will be enlightening to learn a bit more about the hardiness of some of the plants that have been sailing through mild winters. I suppose we can be thankful that it's been cold enough that most things are still dormant and buds hadn't started swelling and opening before the cold came through.

If you are sick of winter, we've got a calendar full of spring programming kicking off with An Evening with the Explorers on March 6. This fundraiser to support plant collecting expeditions is strictly limited to 100 attendees but there are a few spots left. Bring a date and enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres before hearing about Dan Hinkley's always entertaining exploits. Other great events include Sunday tours, a camellia show, botanical illustration classes, hands-on pruning workshops, an ethnobotany lecture, and the start of our annual spring egg hunt.

For those of you itching to get planting, Pi Alpha Xi, the student horticulture honor society, will have their spring plant sale on the last weekend of the month.

Raulston Blooms! will be back in early April with an even bigger and better plant sale, more education sessions, more children’s activities, and a food truck rodeo in addition to our annual birdhouse competition. Whether you’re 6 or 60, a skilled woodworker or complete novice, we want your birdhouse entries. As always, entry to the festivities is free for members.

Despite the groundhog's prediction, it sure seems like spring is just around the corner.

Diospyros kaki 'Shibamichi Weeping'

Plant of the Month

Diospyros kaki

By Mark Weathington, Director

Edible ornamentals have become increasingly important in the landscape where they combine beauty and utility. Few plants fit as easily into so many landscapes as Japanese persimmons, Diospyros kaki. Their small size, ease of growth, brilliant fall color, and delicious fruit make them ideal candidates for adding to almost any garden. They fruit best in a sunny spot but will tolerate some shade and almost any soil. Fruiting is best when several are planted but most named selections are self-fruitful.

Despite the common name, D. kaki is originally from China and has been in gardens for at least 2,000 years making it one of the earliest known cultivated plants. In Asia, it is used not only for the wonderful flavor but also used medicinally to treat a wide range of ailments. It forms a small tree in cultivation although it can grow larger with age. Broad, glossy, deep green leaves are attractive all summer. In fall, the color can be absolutely spectacular ranging from blaze orange to fire engine red.

Much like our native persimmon, the fruit can be very astringent in some forms although breeding has removed the astringency from some of the cultivated selections like the popular 'Fuyu'. Astringent cultivars should be allowed to ripen completely until they are soft and can be eaten with a spoon. They will continue to ripen after being harvested. Non-astringent fruit can be eaten while still firm or allowed to soften.

Perhaps the most elegant selection of Japanese persimmon is the weeping form selected by famed Japanese plantsman, Akira Shibamichi and known as 'Shibamichi Weeping' to differentiate it from the more common 'Pendula'. The gracefully cascading branches bear masses of spindle-shaped fruit, much different than the typical squat shape of other cultivars. I have found it to be quite self-fertile in my home garden even in shade. J. C. Raulston noted this plant on a visit to Shibamichi-san's nursery in 1995 where the plant remains to this day at the entrance to the driveway.

A specimen of 'Shibamichi Weeping' (photograph above) Spropagated from the original plant will be available for auction as well as several other exceptionally choice plants and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stay with Dan Hinkley at his home on Bainbridge Island outside of Seattle for two nights at the March 6 An Evening with the Explorers event at the JC Raulston Arboretum.

Prunus persica 'NCSU Dwarf Double Red'

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

By Arlene Calhoun, Volunteer and Membership Coordinator

Inspiration needed. I'm guessing most of you will agree, no matter where you live, these last few weeks of winter have left us yearning for spring and maybe a little more dirt underneath our fingernails. I'm hearing a lot of stories about years of planting and collecting and sharing. And, I know many of you have a favorite spot in your garden. Perhaps it’s planted with treasures from the Arboretum's annual give-away or your favorite garden center or nursery. Maybe it’s a coveted Connoisseur Plant from us. Please share your success, let us all have a peek. We want to see.

I ask you now to put down your favorite gardening catalog, magazine or JCRA e-Update for just a moment. Pick up your camera or computer and browse your photograph library, select a favorite picture of your garden and e-mail it to me. I think it’s time we shared inspiration. Give me as much or as little back-story as you like. I'll share your photograph and or story on our Facebook page. A sort of picture of the month from Friends of the JC Rauslton Arboretum.

I'll get us started, visit our Facebook page to see what I'm looking forward to blooming in my garden this spring. If you haven't visited our page, please do. It's just another easy way to keep in touch with our growing community.

Let me hear from you. Until then, think sunshine.

Architectural Trees

Thank you to our 2015 Benefit Providers

By Arlene Calhoun, Volunteer and Membership Coordinator

We can’t thank these businesses enough for the many ways they support the Arboretum. For many, the discount they offer to our members is just one way they chose to support us. We thank them and encourage you to do the same when you visit and use your Friends of the Arboretum benefit. Visit the JCRA's Web site for more information including the discounts these companies offer.

2015 JCRA Benefit Providers

If you are a business and interested in joining this very generous group of folks, please contact me at or (919) 513-7004. I'd love to discuss the details.

Sunday tour

Free Afternoon Tours Start March 1

By Arlene Calhoun, Volunteer and Membership Coordinator

Sunday Afternoons at 2:00 pm
Meet at the Bobby G Wilder Visitor Center
March through October
Free to the Public

Meet one of our tour guides this Sunday at the Bobby G Wilder Visitors Center at 2:00 pm and hear the insider's view of the Arboretum. These 10.5 acres have a lot of stories to tell and our guides are happy to share them with you. Most likely, there will be a different guide to greet you each week from March through October. The garden and perspective are ever-changing and worth a weekly stroll.

Come one, come all. You don't have to me a member to join this tour. It is free and open to the public.

We hope you'll join us.

Egg Hunt

Mark your calendars for the 4th Annual Egg Hunt!

By Elizabeth Overcash, Children's Program Coordinator

We are hoping that the old saying March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb holds true, so that the weather is nice and calm for our 4th Annual Spring Egg Hunt at the end of the month!  The Spring Egg Hunt will begin Monday, March 30.  The eggs will hang out in the gardens until Sunday, April 5, so make sure to plan a day to discover this year's scrambled word.

Are you wondering when the start time is each day to find hundreds of plastic eggs?  Well, this is an egg hunt unlike others.  Leave your baskets at home, but bring the whole family.  Large wooden painted eggs will be hiding among the plants waiting to be found.  Once you find all the eggs, you'll have the letters to unscramble and make a spring time word.  Prizes will be waiting for you during staffed hours of the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center.

It's a great activity for all ages.  You'll have a great time wandering the gardens looking for the eggs, so bring your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, or the neighborhood children.  Come out and enjoy some time in the gardens!

Nature Detectives summer camp

Summer Camp Registration is Open

By Elizabeth Overcash, Children's Program Coordinator

Are you making plans for that long anticipated summer break?  Do you know neighbors or friends looking for something for their children to do this summer?  Look no further!  Children from four year olds up to rising 6th graders can spend a week at the Arboretum this summer.  Choose from four different camps:

Summer Garden Camps are filling up, so make sure to reserve a spot for your child soon!  To learn more about the camps or how to register, visit our Web site.

Birdhouse Competition

15th Annual Birdhouse Competition

By Christine Ramsey, Volunteer

Saturday, April 11

The annual birdhouse competition at the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh is one of the spring's creative, colorful, and fun garden events. It's also a great teaching tool for children and adults and matches the JC Raulston Arboretum's mission of education and inspiration. The event raises awareness about birds, their habitats, and importance in the natural world, and raises interest in the Arboretum, one of the foremost teaching gardens in the Southeast.

Birdhouse entries will be received on Friday, April 10, 2014, and judged that same evening. The competition is open for public viewing on Saturday, April 11, when thousands of people turn out to see the results. For more information about entering a birdhouse, competition categories, and age groups, visit the JCRA's Web site.

Narcissus 'February Gold'

Coming Attractions

By Nancy Doubrava, Interpretive Specialist

Magnolia zenii

Cercis canadensis 'Floating Clouds'
variegated eastern redbud

Crocus imperati 'De Jager'

Chaenomeles ×superba 'Mandarin'
hybrid flowering quince

Prunus persica 'NCSU Dwarf Double Red'

Prunus persica 'NCSU Dwarf Double Red'
dwarf flowering peach

Iris histrioides 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'

Camellia ×williamsii 'Golden Spangles'
variegated Williamsii camellia

Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'

Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'
Tommasini's crocus

Crocus ancyrensis 'Golden Bunch'

Crocus ancyrensis 'Golden Bunch'

Pieris taiwanensis

Pieris taiwanensis
Formosan pieris

Galanthus nivalis 'Magnet'

Galanthus nivalis 'Magnet'

YouTube Channel

By Christopher Todd Glenn, Programs and Education Coordinator

Three new videos were recorded in February. Look for them in our YouTube Channel or click the links below.

Receive announcements about our latest additions by subscribing to our channel.

"Winter Perennials" - Mark Weathington, Director - February 3, 2015
"Magnolias for the Southeast: My Passport to the World" - Cheryl Kearns, JCRA Board of Advisors and Magnolia Society International Member - February 12, 2015
"Wildflowers of the Croatan National Forest" - Tim Alderton, JC Raulston Arboretum - February 14, 2015

March Events

Sunday Tour
Volunteer Tour Docent
Sunday, March 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29
2:00 pm


Plantsmen's Tour
"Stop and Smell the Roses—Winter's Rose"
Tim Alderton, Research Technician
Tuesday, March 3
1:00 pm

Gardening Basics Course
"Using Science to Grow Better Petunias"
Bryce Lane, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Emeritus and Lecturer Emeritus, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University
Wednesday, March 4, 11, 18, and 25
7:00 pm

Afternoon Adventure
Friday, March 6
2:00 pm–4:00 pm

An Evening with the Explorers: Triumphs and Tribulations of the Plant Hunters
Sponsored by Bartlett Tree Experts
Friday, March 6
5:30 pm

Garden Buds
"Critters in the Garden"
Friday, March 13
10:00 am

North American Rock Garden Society (Piedmont Chapter) Lecture
Sponsored by the Piedmont Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society in Cooperation with the JC Raulston Arboretum
"Horticultural Adventures in Global Gardens and Glens"
Brian Jackson, Ph.D., NC State University
Saturday, March 14
10:00 pm

Triangle Camellia Society's 7th Annual Camellia Show and Plant Sale
Hosted by the Triangle Camellia Society in cooperation with the American Camellia Society and the Raleigh Garden Club
Saturday, March 14
1:00 pm

Girl Scout Program
Juniors: Gardener
Saturday, March 14
2:00 pm

Botanical Illustration Class
Naturally Creative! Spring Series
Preston Montague
Tuesday, March 17, 24, and 31
6:30 pm

Friends of the Arboretum Lecture
"Q'eqchi' Maya Reproductive Ethnomedicine, Estrogenic Plant Use, and Women's Healing Traditions in Belize"
Jillian M. De Gezelle, Ph.D., Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Plant & Microbial Biology, NC State University
Thursday, March 19
7:30 pm

Renewal Pruning Class and Demonstration
Douglas Ruhren, Ironwood Gardens and JCRA Volunteer
Saturday, March 21
9:00 am

Y Guides and Y Princess Program
Second Year Event
Saturday, March 21
9:30 am

Y Guides and Y Princess Program
Second Year Event
Saturday, March 21
10:45 am

Pi Alpha Xi Plant Sale
Saturday, March 28
8:00 am and
Sunday, March 29
10:00 am

Family Fun Event
Fourth Annual Spring Egg Hunt
Monday, March 30
10:00 am and
Tuesday, March 31
10:00 am

✽Denotes a children's program.


JC Raulston Arboretum Plant Sale
Members Only Preview Sale
Friday, April 10
4:00 PM–7:00 PM

Raulston Blooms!
A Garden Festival for All Ages (includes the 15th Annual Birdhouse Competition and the JCRA Plant Sale)
Saturday, April 11
9:00 AM–5:00 PM

Gala in the Garden
Stop and Smell the Roses
3:30 PM–7:00 PM

Pollinator Gardening Workshop
Saturday, May 16
8:30 AM

Connect with Us


JC Raulston Arboretum
NC State University
Campus Box 7522 Raleigh, NC 27695-7522

(919) 515-3132

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Please Join or Renew Today!

The JC Raulston Arboretum is free to the public, but it is not free to operate. Memberships keep the gates open and the gardens in top shape. Membership gifts are the primary support for the Arboretum's daily operations and vital for its success. Thank you for your support and advocacy of the JC Raulston Arboretum through the membership program. It's fast and easy to become a Friend of the Arboretum, and there are many great benefits for you and your family. Join or renew now using our secure Web site, or contact Arlene Calhoun, Volunteer and Membership Coordinator.

JC Raulston Arboretum e-Updates are published electronically every month for everyone interested in the Arboretum and are e-mailed to the Arboretum's members. If you are a member and need to update your contact information or wish to be removed from this mailing, please contact Arlene Calhoun.

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