JC Raulston Arboretum e-Update

Chaenomeles 'Scarlet Storm' (Double Take)
Your Monthly News and Updates
Director's Note
By Mark Weathington, Director

Stopping to smell the roses is the go-to shorthand for taking a break from a hectic life to appreciate the world around you. So what’s a person to do if they are surrounded by roses - both real and figurative? Maintaining a good work-life balance for those of us who love what we do can be all but impossible. A colleague at another garden recently told me he strives for work-life integration rather than balance which may be the best I’ll ever manage.

It would be hard to find an area in my life not integrated and influenced by the Arboretum and public horticulture. Many of my friends are through work, family members often join Arboretum led tours with me, and my long-suffering wife has let me turn our empty nest into a revolving hostel for visiting plant nuts from around the world. I wish everyone could feel the way I do about going into work and take the satisfaction I get from working with such a passionate team. Even those of us lucky enough to do what we love occasionally need reminding to stop and smell the roses (or Osmanthus) and appreciate the ride we’re on but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

See you in the garden.

Remembering Bobby Wilder
By Mark Weathington, Director

I remember the first time I met Bobby Wilder.  It was at my interview for the assistant director position on April 16, 2007, where he grilled me during an opportunity for Arboretum members to participate in the hiring process.  In the intervening years we traveled together on several occasions - I remember a lovely lunch with Bobby and Dan Hinkley in Washington, my first visit to my horticultural hero Roy Lancaster’s garden, and a trek to the Cape of Good Hope.  In 2014 when I threw my hat in the ring for my current position, Bobby was there front and center to grill me again to make sure I was up to the task.

He was dedicated to the JCRA as a volunteer for decades, as a donor, and as a source of inspiration for those of us who got to know him.  Bobby lived a full life, he found the love of his life, Jack Lamm, traveled all over the globe including an epic and legendary journey around Europe - I wish I could hear some of those stories again - and supporting causes he was passionate about.  Bobby will forever be connected to the Arboretum that he helped build through the legacy of the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center and his influence in ways big and small over the years.  More importantly Bobby will be remembered by those of us he inspired to live a full life by following our passions and providing positive impacts to help make the world a little bit better.

Link to the obituary for Bobby Wilder

Link to a video tribute
FOA Plant Distribution, Saturday, October 1
9:00 AM Sharp! MEMBERS ONLY!
Gates open at 7:30 AM - please arrive no later than 8:45 AM

At the time of publication of the e-Update, we are planning to proceed with the annual FOA Plant Distribution. If severe weather conditions change these plans, we will email members, but please check our website for any updates before heading out on Saturday morning.
Tips for a Great Plant Giveaway!

  1. First time? Not sure how it works? Friendly members, volunteers and staff will help you get where you need to be.
  2. Bring something to carry your plants back to your vehicle. (Some of those plants in the middle area are LARGE.) A wagon, cart, plastic tub, bag, etc. Bring something to line your trunk too. Some folks bring camp chairs to rest their legs during the wait in line.
  3. Allow yourself enough time to park and check in. This is a popular event!
  4. Coffee and baked goods will be available for a cash donation.
  5. You can also purchase our new JCRA t-shirt, bucket hat and other apparel.
  6. Please arrive no later than 8:45 AM to allow enough time to get checked in.
  7. Bring your membership card, membership number, e-ticket if you received one, or we can look you up. This is a MEMBERS-ONLY Event.

Questions? Check out our FAQ or email
Record Breaking Membership Month and Year
By Kathryn Wall, Membership & Volunteer Manager

Welcome to all our new Arboretum members. We had a record breaking month in September with 170 NEW memberships. We have a total of 511 new membership since January 1, which is a 101% increase over the same period last year. We now have 2530 memberships and 3943 members. Help us break 4000 members by referring us to your friends and coworkers!

Thank you to all our existing and renewing members for helping to share the word about our wonderful Arboretum and the benefits of being a member.
A Special Preview of Moonlight in the Garden
by Arlene Calhoun, Associate Director

With the cooler temperatures comes Moonlight in the Garden—and we can't wait. John Garner, the master of lighting design, and his team at Southern Lights of Raleigh are busy installing lighting and all the things you loved are coming back—food trucks, live music, apple cider, marshmallows, and fire pits!

We have a special Preview Night planned on Tuesday, November 8. For this evening only, come enjoy delectable eats from Rocky Top Catering, a glass of beer or wine and stroll the garden listening to indie-jazz tunes provided by Tea Cup Gin. Only a very limited number tickets are available to keep the crowd size to less than half that on general admission nights. Members and their guests enjoy early event access and can arrive at 6:00 PM to enjoy the event and all it has to offer before the gates officially open at 6:30 PM.

Moonlight in the Garden helps us raise the funds necessary to keep our gates open and our admission free 365 days a year. We hope you'll join us for this unique fund-raiser. Bring a friend or two—the more, the merrier.
The Case of the Missing Butterfly
by Dennis Carey, Curator

The other day I was strolling through the JC Raulston Arboretum and enjoying the movement and colors of the fluttering butterflies. We’ve had a decent population of butterflies this year at the JCRA. I’ve seen the colorful, bright-yellow sulphurs, cabbage whites, skippers, painted ladies, various types of swallowtails and a surprising number of the now endangered monarch butterflies. There are many other species too flitting about the arboretum.  And that is fortunate because that is not the case everywhere. Butterflies are generally on the decline.

For example, my personal garden is just 9 miles away from the JCRA and I’ve noticed, to my chagrin, that there are almost no butterflies fluttering about this summer. My yard is a typical postage stamp lot in Raleigh and although I have a decent number of butterfly attracting plants in my garden, most of my neighbors do not garden and so my garden is a tiny island of butterfly plants in a nectar-deprived desert of basic landscaping. Others too are noticing a recent sharp decline in lepidopterans. In 2022 and 2021, the annual butterfly count done by the Greater Georgia Pollinator Census showed declines of greater than 30%. Also, the North American Butterfly Association is reporting a 50% drop in butterfly numbers in 2022. And in Europe, they have recorded a decades-long decline in butterfly numbers.

There are many factors contributing to the decline of butterflies. One factor is the normal year to year fluctuation of butterfly populations. Year to year variations occur due to normal variations in temperature, rainfall, and food availability here in Raleigh and also along butterfly migration routes. Year to year fluctuation can mean that butterfly numbers vary by 2 orders of magnitude (that’s 100-fold for you non-math people). That means that butterfly numbers can be at 100%, 10% or 1% and still be within a ‘normal’ year-over-year range. Wow! So there are ‘good’ years, and ‘bad’ years for butterflies. This is likely a ‘bad’ year.

There are also unnatural (a.k.a. human-made) factors at play too. One big factor is the increased disruption of food sources and overwintering sites due to land development, which is especially true for the endangered monarch butterfly. So is the shift in the timing of food availability occurring as a result of global warming. As temperatures change, the emergence of butterfly food sources has shifted in time. If migrating butterflies arrive at a certain place at a certain time and their food sources are not ready yet or are past their prime, that puts great stress on the species. And a really big factor is the careless use of insecticides by people. Many people apply insecticides (or hire companies to do so) at the wrong time, at the wrong dose, or on the wrong plant, or they blanket their entire yard with chemicals without considering the impact of pesticides on non-target species.

Why then are the butterflies doing well at the JC Raulston Arboretum compared to my home garden? For one, at 10 acres the JCRA is 62 times larger than my home garden which makes it easier for butterflies to find. For another, the JCRA has an incredible mixture of plants that butterflies like to eat and lay eggs on. Not a day goes by at the JCRA that there are not tons of plants at their peak-level of butterfly support…lots of nectar-rich flowers in full bloom, plenty of leaves for laying eggs upon and for caterpillars to munch on. Finally, the JCRA does not apply pesticides in the garden. Part of our mission is to discover great garden plants for the southeast US and to that end, we want to learn if a plant is good at repelling pests and diseases, so we let the pests and diseases ‘do their thing’. We weed out the plants that cannot cut it. In contrast, my home garden goes through periods of butterfly feast and famine due to its small size and smaller variety of plants.

What can I do to make my garden as good a butterfly host site as the JC Raulston Arboretum? I could add more species that support butterflies, focusing on as much variety as I can stuff into my small space. That would reduce gaps in butterfly food production. I could encourage my neighbors to start planting butterfly attracting plants in order to make a larger target for roving kaleidoscopes of butterflies (yes, a group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope!). And even though I use very few pesticides myself, I can encourage my neighbors to use fewer insecticides and to carefully plan their use to focus on target species while avoiding non-target species like butterflies. That includes encouraging those that hire pest control companies (especially for mosquito control) to only use companies whose practices eliminate non-target species effects. No carpet-bombing of insectides across the whole yard please!

In the meantime, until the numbers in my garden improve, I’ll continue to get my butterfly fix at the JC Raulston Arboretum. You should too! We invite you to come on by. Bring your camera. Enjoy!

Are you looking to buy butterfly attracting plants? All local nurseries sell them and can recommend a long list of butterfly plants that are well-adapted to our climate. So do we (shameless capitalist plug coming). Our sales, auctions, and plant giveaways usually have plant descriptions that mention which plants are good butterfly plants.
  1. Other collective nouns for butterflies are: flutter, flight, swarm, rabble, wing, flock, shimmer, and rainbow…but I like kaleidoscope best.
Fall Wish List Update
Amy Beitzel, Development Assistant

Thanks to our loyal supporters, the Arboretum staff were thrilled to acquire a new electric cart to make their work around the gardens more sustainable and energy-efficient. Thank you for the generous contributions toward the 2021 wish list that made this purchase possible!         

New projects for the 2022 wish list have been selected and will be announced soon. You can help fund these important projects so that we can continue to impact our community for years to come. Watch your mailboxes and please consider making a gift to support the Arboretum.

Fern Propagation Workshop Added This Month!
Saturday October 29, 2022 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at propagating but worried you’ll fail?  Do you have a shade garden that you’d love to add more ferns to?  Love learning something new? This workshop is for you!  

Ferns are a great addition to your garden and surprisingly easy to propagate from spores.  You just need some time and a little patience!  In this workshop, Bob Payne, a Wake County Master Gardener Volunteer, will teach about the reproductive cycle of ferns and how to successfully propagate them. You’ll go home with a variety of ferns from the Arboretum’s gardens in various stages of development.

Registration is open now for Arboretum members first since this workshop has limited space.  Go secure your spot now so you can learn how to multiply your fern collection!

Other cool classes in October!
Cool Season Veggie Gardening
Brie Arthur, Author, Horticulturist, and Lifelong Home Gardener
Saturday, October 8, 2022 – 10:00 AM–12:00 PM

Learn how to plan and plant a cool season vegetable garden from foodscaping expert Brie Arthur. In this lively program Brie will share practical advice for growing delicious food crops. From site prep and seed starting to container combinations and harvesting tips, this session is sure to inspire everyone to grow like a pro all winter long! Stretch your food budget and enjoy tasty healthy home grown veggies.

Please register online using our registration e-store (
in-person program and online program).

Plant Nutrition and Fertilizing
Bryce Lane, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Emeritus
and Lecturer Emeritus, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University
Mondays, October 10 through October 31, 2022 – 6:30 PM–8:30 PM

This four-week class will provide a comprehensive view on the importance of plant nutrition in plant growth and how those principles should influence our use of fertilizers. We will talk about the role nutrients play in plant growth, what deficiencies look like, and about how plants absorb nutrients. We will review all the different kinds of fertilizers that we can choose from and talk about when we should be fertilizing our plants as well. Bryce will answer your questions and help you know how to help your plants.

Each class will be recorded and video shared with participants.

Please register online using our registration e-store (in-person program and online program).
Exploring the Diversity of Camellias
Brie Arthur, Author, Horticulturist, and Lifelong Home Gardener
Wednesday, October 12, 2022 – 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM - ONLINE

Join camellia enthusiast, propagator, and grower Brie Arthur for an inspiring program featuring a Southern favorite, the irresistible camellia. Brie will share insights on how to cultivate camellias in zones 7–9 for high impact interest through the fall, winter, and spring. Discover tips on site selection, soil improvement, fertility needs, pruning, and home propagation methods as well as favorite fall and winter blooming varieties. From ancient varieties to modern hybrids, this program will provide attendees with the knowledge needed to be successful at growing camellias.

Please register online using our registration e-store.
Holiday Pre-Made Wreath Sale Starts Now for Members
Set the mood for this holiday season with a beautiful JC Raulston Arboretum fresh wreath! These wreaths are made right here at the Arboretum and are perfect as a standalone decoration or as the finishing touch to match your holiday décor.

This sale is for a small wreath which is perfect for regular sized doors. Pickups for wreaths are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, December 2 (afternoon) and 3 (morning). Don’t miss out on your chance to get your own designer wreath to make this season a special one! (You don't have to be a member to purchase a wreath, but we're sharing the link with members first.)

Join us for the October Evening Garden Stroll
and Pop Up Orchid Sale
Tuesday, October 11, 4:30-7:00 PM

Join us for a Pop up Orchid Sale, hosted by the Triangle Orchid Society, and take a stroll through the gardens.
Take advantage of our extended hours and come enjoy a fall evening at your Arboretum.

Upcoming Events, Programs, and Sales

Plant Buggy Sales
Daily at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center
Monday–Friday: 9:00 AM–4:30 PM
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 AM–6:00 PM

Take a Child Outside Week–Garden Storytime
Friday, September 30—10:00 AM

In Person – Register

Friends of the Arboretum Annual Plant Distribution
Saturday, October 1–9:00 AM

Girl Scout Program–Brownies: Buggin’ Out!✽ canceled
Saturday, October 1–10:00 AM

Plant-lover’s Tour
"October Garden Tasks"
Tuesday, October 4–1:00 PM

Lunch and Lit in the Garden, Grades 3-4✽
“Growing in the Garden”
Wednesdays, October 5–12:00 PM

Garden Storytime✽
Friday, October 7–10:00 AM

Cool Season Veggie Gardening with Brie Arthur
Saturday, October 8–10:00 AM

Plant Nutrition and Fertilizing with Bryce Lane
Mondays, October 10-October 31– 6:30 PM

Evening Garden Stroll and Pop Up Orchid Sale
Tuesday, October 11–4:30 - 7:30 PM

Midweek with Mark
"Osmanthus & Relatives"
Wednesday, October 12–3:00 PM

Exploring the Diversity of Camellias with Brie Arthur
Wednesday, October 12–6:30 PM

North American Rock Garden Society (Piedmont Chapter) Lecture
Saturday, October 15—9:00 AM
“Creating a Natural Community Garden with Southeastern Native Plants” Presented by
Patrick McMillan, Plant Delights Nursery. Fee for non-members.
Online and In Person

Garden Story Walk “We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt”
Monday, October 17 - Sunday, October 23 during normal garden hours

Deeper in the Garden
"Amazing Aspidistra"
Wednesday, October 19–3:00 PM

21st Annual Vermiculture Conference at NC State University
Saturday, October 22–10:00 AM
Sunday, October 23–10:00 AM

Gardening Adventures with Extension Master Gardener Volunteers
Monday, October 24–10:00 AM
"A Woodland Walk - What You May Find if You Look!" presented by Leah Dail, Master Gardener Volunteer of Wake County

Garden Conversations: Japanese Maples
Dennis Carey, Curator
Wednesday, October 26–3:00 PM

I Spy! Morning Walk✽
Friday, October 28–10:30 AM

Girl Scout Program✽
Cadettes: Tree-iffic Trees
Saturday, October 29–10:00 AM

Fern Propagation Workshop
Saturday October 29, 2022 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Denotes a children's program.

Many programs require advance registration. Please register early to reserve your spot. Please write for questions.

Coming Attractions
By Nancy Doubrava, JCRA Volunteer
Aster ageratoides 'Ezo Murasaki'
Asian Aster

Rhus copallinum var. latifolia 'Lanham Purple'
winged sumac
Camellia ×hiemalis 'Rose of Autumn'
Crocus sativus
saffron crocus
Crysanthemum 'Country Girl'
garden chrysanthemum
Salvia puberula 'El Butano'
Mexican sage
Camellia sasanqua 'Green 94-035' (October Magic Orchid)
sasanqua camellia

YouTube Channel Update

Eight educational programs were recorded in September and were posted to our YouTube channel. Receive announcements about our latest additions by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Click on the bell icon to adjust your frequency settings from occasional notifications to all notifications and vice versa.
JC Raulston Arboretum
NC State University
Campus Box 7522
Raleigh, NC 27695-7522
(919) 515-3132

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