JC Raulston Arboretum e-Update
August 2023

Your Monthly News and Updates

Director's Note

By Mark Weathington, Director

The dog days are on us with a vengeance but it’s hard to complain when looking at the temperatures in some of the other areas of the country. There is so much conflicting information about the climate and it often seems overwhelming to do anything about it at an individual level. Rather than throw up your hands in despair, there are some actual things individuals can do about the climate no matter where they live.

  • Advocate for preserving and expanding green spaces whether those are parks, urban streetscapes, rooftops or other spots.

  • Reduce turf at home and in public areas.

  • Plant more trees.

  • Advocate for more and better public transportation and safe bike lanes— and use them.

  • Support green technologies like solar power.

  • Eat less beef. A personal struggle for me!

  • Support associations working towards these goals like the JCRA, other botanic gardens, and the Nature Conservancy.

Small changes make big differences in aggregate and your advocacy, support, and actions help inspire others. The JCRA provides education and extension to the public and professionals on these and other sustainable and resilient landscape solutions. We can’t do it alone, but we can do it together.

See you in the garden.

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Tony Avent Receives Philanthropy Award
for Horticultural Legacy

By Alycia Thornton, Director of Development

Congratulations to Tony Avent who recently received the prestigious "Ruby C. McSwain Outstanding Philanthropist Award" by the National Agricultural Alumni Development Association (NAADA). This award recognizes Avent's remarkable contributions to agriculture, agricultural higher education, and cooperative research at NC State University.

Named after Mrs. Ruby McSwain, whose philanthropic legacy is remembered in the name of our Education Center, this esteemed accolade celebrates individuals who have displayed dedication as an advocate and philanthropist for agriculture and natural resources. Tony earned this well-deserved honor as an unwavering supporter of the Arboretum, sharing his plant knowledge and nursery industry expertise with students and professionals, supplying the JCRA with thousands of plants over the years to enhance collections or sell as fundraisers, and inspiring others to partner with NC State.

Tony’s passion for plants led him to establish the stunning Juniper Level Botanic Garden - one of the most unique in the world - and the award-winning Plant Delights Nursery on a 28-acre site just south of Raleigh. In a momentous act of philanthropy, Tony and Anita Avent gifted their entire estate and life's work to North Carolina State University in 2016. Their transformational gift creates a path to conserve these extraordinary resources and contributions long into the future, while firmly placing NC State University at the forefront of botanical collecting and horticultural research. Tony Avent is already renowned as the owner of a highly respected mail-order nursery, however, his gift of one of the most horticulturally rich plant collections in the world to NC State University solidifies his legacy as both a philanthropist and a visionary.

The JCRA community commends Tony for his outstanding philanthropic endeavors, which have immensely benefited the field of horticulture and the community as a whole. Tony makes a wonderful advocate by constantly promoting the future of horticulture at NC State. His steadfast commitment to sharing knowledge and preserving botanical treasures will leave an indelible mark on future generations.

Join us in growing the endowment for JLBG & JCRA:

Student Internship Ice Cream Social - Celebrating Our Successful Students

By Amy Beitzel, Development Assistant

More than 80 members, volunteers, and dedicated supporters attended this summer opportunity to get to know the JCRA student interns over some Howlin' Cow ice cream. Despite a seemingly controversial selection to serve Banana Pudding flavored ice cream, we enjoyed the inspiring responses from the students as they shared the highlights of their internship experiences this summer.

The annual ice cream social offers a unique opportunity for the JCRA community to interact with the student interns, and this year did not disappoint. Beyond their gardening skills, the students showcased their diverse talents and expressed their genuine gratitude for this career development opportunity. Questions from the audience revealed their activities outside the gardens, memorable moments, encounters with wildlife, and the greatest takeaways from this summer. Their thoughtful remarks thoroughly impressed the event attendees.

The ice cream social highlighted the valuable contributions these bright interns bring to the organization. As our Student Internship Program wraps up for the summer, we want to take the time to thank all of our generous supporters who make this opportunity possible!

If you would like to support student education, please consider donating to the Student Internship Program. Feel free to direct any questions to Alycia Thornton, director of development, at or (919) 515-7068.

Support our Interns

Intro to Gardening in the South

Sponsored by Leaf & Limb
Saturday, August 26 – 9:00 AM–12:00 PM

Whether you're an experienced green thumb, or a curious beginner, gardening in the Southeast can be an exciting adventure! Intro to Gardening in the South is designed to introduce people to the JC Raulston Arboretum and the horticulturally rich resources available in our area. We thank our friends at Leaf & Limb for sponsoring this free program.

We invite people new to the area or new to gardening to join us in person—spaces are limited and advanced registration is required. Because we enjoy sharing all we know about this horticulturally rich area we call home, we invite more experienced gardeners to join us online. You'll receive information prior to program letting you know how to view the presentations using Zoom. This program will also be uploaded to our YouTube channel after the event.

Presentations include:

  • "Plant Parenthood: From Planting to Pruning to Pest Management"
    Bryce Lane, NC State University

  • "The Dirt on Soil"
    Ashley Troth, PhD, N.C. Cooperative Extension

  • "Plants for Winter Interest"
    Keith Lukowski, Durham Garden Center

Please share this information with your family, co-workers, neighbors and gardening friends!

Learn More
Register to Attend In Person
Register to Attend Online

Membership Updates:

Plant Sale, Preselect Giveaway Plants & More

By Kathryn Wall, Membership & Volunteer Manager

While the heat keeps many gardeners inside during the month of August, our team is busy building the catalog for our Fall Preorder Plant Sale that’s opening in September. September is going to be a busy month so I’m taking advantage of the doldrums of August to get a few things on your radar.

JCRA members get first access to all of our sales. The Fall Preorder Plant Sale opens at noon on Thursday, September 7, and members will have 24 hours to get their orders in before the sale opens to everyone on September 8. For the 609 new member households and reminder to all, this is a Preorder sale, selections are made from an online catalog; these plants are not on site for browsing. Insiders Tip: Shop EARLY for the best selection.

The Preselect of Giveaway Plants is a member benefit for the Explorer level or above. Members at these levels can choose between two ways to participate. (Members must choose only one way to participate and all members affiliated with the same friend number must participate in the same way.) The online Preselect Giveaway catalog opens September 13. This is a great time to upgrade your membership, especially if you cannot make our annual giveaway in person on October 7, the first Saturday. I’m happy to assist with your membership upgrade; I can be reached at

New Benefit! Discounts on Fine Gardening magazine for JCRA Members
The Arboretum is a longtime member of the American Public Garden Association (APGA) who champion public gardens. They show their appreciation of public garden member support with a new membership benefit for JCRA Members:

We’ve added a Membership FAQ to help answer any questions you may have about your membership. I recently had a question about using an IRA rollover fund to pay for an annual membership. IRAs and Donor Advised Funds cannot be used to pay for total or partial memberships that are not fully deductible contributions since the membership includes benefits. Our robust membership program is no longer 100% tax deductible.

If you have any questions about supporting the JC Raulston Arboretum through your IRA or Donor Advised Funds, please contact our director of development, Alycia Thornton, at (919) 513-7068 or

colorful ornamental peppers

Evening Garden Stroll: Trial Gardens Tasting

Tuesday, August 8

4:00–7:30 PM

We invite you to come spend an August evening with us. Bernadette Clark will be back at the Annual Trial Beds answering questions and offering a few tastings (If crops hold.) from this year’s trials. Take advantage of the rare opportunity to visit the garden after hours for a stroll through a premiere collection of flowering trees, shrubs, and perennials.

This is a free opportunity to visit the JCRA in the golden hours of a summer evening. Mark your calendars for the 2nd Tuesday in September and October for future Evening Garden Strolls.

Summer is all sun and games. . .

By Elizabeth Overcash, Education and Communications Manager

When you think about summer, it’s probably thoughts of vacations, the beach or pool, and hot sunny days. Education might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Here at the Arboretum, we won’t let summer get in the way of some good education! So much is happening, so allow me a few lines to share…

First, let me introduce myself to all our wonderful members. Many of you might know or have heard my name sometime in the past 11 years as the Children’s Program Coordinator working with summer camps, school tours, and other family and youth programming. This June, I moved into a new role, Education and Communications Manager. I am excited to work with all of our members from the youngest to the oldest, to bring you educational programming that will inspire, inform, and engage you. We have a wonderful education team and we would love to hear from you. Stop by or reach out to us!

A midsummer recap of what’s been happening with our education programs starts with the Southeastern Plant Symposium co-hosted with Juniper Level Botanic Garden where we had speakers from all over. Plans are already underway for the 2024 symposium. We hosted over 100 participants at the Landscape Color and Professional Field Day. Our interns tried their hand at education in a public garden setting. If you missed them, go over to our YouTube channel to see how amazing the future is for the horticulture industry when these students graduate!

Coming up, Midweek programs continue online along with the Plant-Lover’s Tour for those wanting an in person garden experience. Don’t miss this month’s Midweek with Mark and Greg on gardening with dogs and a special Garden Conversation with Brent Heath from Brent and Becky’s.

Summer camps are in full swing. When you get this email, we will have completed 5 camps with only 3 weeks remaining. The gardens have been filled with the camper’s energy and laughter. As I write this, our Artists in the Garden campers are working on projects to display at the end of camp art show!

A new Story Walk will be out at the beginning of the month for all to come read as they enjoy a walk through the gardens. Garden Storytime starts back at the end of the month. Bring your families out to enjoy stories and garden fun!

If that’s not enough to tempt you into some summer learning, then check out this month’s Photography Walk with Mary Louise Ravese from Bella Vista Photography or come learn about Foraging for Mushrooms with Frank Hyman.

Looking ahead to cooler fall temperatures, make plans to attend these great fall programs:

  • Come relax and observe the garden while learning about Botanical Illustration with Preston Montague, Saturday, September 23.
  • Bryce Lane is going back to the basics with his new P-Squared class on all things planting and pruning starting on Monday, September 11.
  • Calling all fern lovers, you can learn how to propagate and take home ferns in all different stages at the Fern Propagation workshop with Bob Payne on Saturday, October 28.
  • Plan to stay after the plant giveaway to hear Brie Arthur talk about Foodscapes. It's a two part class, so the next weekend you'll tour and taste her home foodscape. That's Saturdays, October 7 and 14.

Registration is open for all of these, so grab your spot now.

And, here’s some insider information - the holiday wreath workshop dates are on December’s calendar. Because of how popular these workshops are, we will be giving members first opportunity to register. Make sure to look for the email later this month so you don’t miss out!

Happy summer learning!

Members and Education Convergence

Our middle school camp, Cultivating Science, is a week filled with field trips exploring different aspects of horticulture right here in our community. This year, one of our members, Lisa Grele Barrie, hosted the camp at Raleigh City Farm where she is the Executive Director. The nineteen campers were amazed that a one acre urban city lot could produce 12,000 pounds of produce! Lisa’s tour of the garden showed them how neighbors can work together to turn a vacant lot into a thriving farm to help supply food. Before they left, they even did a little marigold tasting (pictured below).

Summer Campers tasting marigolds at the Raleigh City Farm

Lisa is also the presenter for this month’s Gardening Adventures with Master Gardener Volunteers on Monday, August 28. Join her to hear about drought tolerant plants that you can add into your landscape.

Thanks for all your support with our education programs Lisa!

colorful lighting on banana trees with glowing grapevine balls in the distance

Save the Date for Moonlight in the Garden

by Arlene Calhoun, Associate Director

You can thank me later for giving you a moment of reprieve from the dog days of summer to think about a crisp cool November evening. We have the dates and times and are busy securing the food trucks and bands to add to the moonlight magic.

Preview Night will be the first Friday in November—November 3 to be exact. The gardens will be lit, the band playing, and the bar open. For this evening, the food trucks are replaced with catered seasonal fare of small plates and grazing tables. Hot apple cider, marshmallows and fire pits will be in place to top off a perfect evening at the Arboretum.

Tickets will be going on sale early September; we’ll send an email later this month once an exact date is confirmed.

Save the Dates: Moonlight in the Garden 2023

Preview Night, Friday, November 3

Event Nights

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

November 9, 10, and 11 and November 16, 17, and 18
Gates Open from 5:30 pm–9:30 pm
Timed Entry Tickets

Food Trucks, Hot Cider, Fire Pits and Marshmallows

Members will get first access to the hottest tickets in town

and members with Preview Night tickets get early entry.

Moonlight in the Garden is our biggest fundraising event, tickets sell out in advance and they go fast. Mark your calendars; if you think our collection is spectacular by day, you don’t want to miss seeing it in all its nighttime splendor! It’s a magical experience you don’t want to miss.

A special thank you to John Garner and his team at Southern Lights of Raleigh and our volunteer installation team of Rob Thornton, Kerry MacPherson, David White, Ken Powell, John Lucas, and Ed Kelley, for the vision, skill, and endurance working through a summertime installation.

Watch our Web site for more details.


Upcoming Programs and Events

Plant Buggy

Daily at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center

Garden Critters

Full–Waitlist Started

Monday, July 31 – Friday, August 4–9:00–12:30 PM

In Person

Plant-Lovers Tour

“Hot Summer Plants”

Mark Weathington, Director

Tuesday, August 1–9:00–10:00 AM

In Person

Gardening 101

“August Gardening Tasks”

The Horticulture Team

Wednesday, August 2–3:00–3:30 PM


Garden Story Walk

Saturday, August 5 – Sunday August 13, JCRA Open Hours

In Person

Garden Discovery

Full– Waitlist Started

Monday, August 7 – Friday, August 11–9:00–3:30 PM

In Person

Creating and Caring for Sustainable Home Landscapes

Bryce Lane, Distinguished Professor and Gardener

Monday, July 17 – August 21–6:30 PM–8:30 PM

In Person and Online

Evening Garden Stroll

“Trial Bed Tasting”

Tuesday, August 8–4:00–7:30 PM

In Person


“Gardening for Dogs”

Mark Weathington, Director and Greg Paige, Director of Horticulture

Wednesday, August 9–3:00–3:30 PM


Cut Flower Course

Full–Waitlist Started

Allison Nidiffer, Education Intern

Thursday, August 10–5:30–8:00 PM

In Person

Photography Walk

Flat Lay Flower Photography

Mary Louise Ravese

Friday, August 11–9:30–12:30 PM

In Person

Garden Chefs

Full–Waitlist Started

Monday, August 14 – Friday, August 18–9:00–3:30 PM

In Person

Deeper in the Garden


Mark Weathington, Director

Wednesday, August 16–3:00–3:30 PM


Great Pollinator Census

NC Cooperative Extension

Friday, August 18 – Saturday, August, 19, JCRA Hours

In Person

Introduction to Mushroom Foraging

Learn a Year’s Worth of Wild Edible Mushrooms in One Day

Frank Hyman

Saturday, August 19–9:00 AM–11:00 AM

In Person

Introduction to Mushroom Foraging

Full–Waitlist Started

Learn a Year’s Worth of Wild Edible Mushrooms in One Day

Frank Hyman

Saturday, August 19–1:00 PM–3:00 PM

In Person

Garden Conversations

“Featuring Brent Heath”

Dennis Carey, Curator

Wednesday, August 23–3:00–4:00 PM


Intro to Gardening in the South

Saturday, August 26–9:00–12:00 PM

In Person and Online

Gardening Adventures

“Drought Tolerant Plants”

Lisa Grele Barrie, Extension Master Gardener

Monday, August 28–10:00–11:30 AM


Horticulture Hour

JCRA Horticulture Staff

Wednesday, August 30–3:00–4:00 PM

✽Denotes a children's program.

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

Coming Attractions

Adina rubella 'Purple Flower'
purple Chinese buttonbush

Viburnum awabuki 'Chindo'
sweet viburnum

Lycoris chinensis × L. sprengeri
hybrid surprise lily

Rudbeckia subtomentosa

'Little Henry'sweet coneflower

Millettia pulchra
summer wisteria

YouTube Channel Update

Six new videos were recorded in July and posted to our YouTube Channel.

Garden Conversations - "Featuring Anne Spafford"
Master Gardener Talk - "Protecting our Gardens: Companion Planting, Biological & Structural Control"
Deeper in the Garden - "Color Trials Walkthrough"
Midweek with Interns - "Interns' Takeover"
Plant-lover's Tour - "Interns' Top Picks"
Midweek with Dennis - "History of the Arboretum's Land"

Your Membership Makes a Difference

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 Kathryn Wall, membership and volunteer manager, at (919) 513-7004 or

JC Raulston Arboretum
Campus Box 7522
Raleigh, NC 27695-7522
Contact us at

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