News from the JC Raulston Arboretum for our members
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JC Raulston Arboretum e-Update
December 2023

Your Monthly News and Updates

Director's Note

By Mark Weathington, Director

Is it really December already? Time flies when you’re having fun so we must be drowning in a barrel of monkeys. Moonlight in the Garden was a smash with over 13,000 tickets sold. We are officially NC State’s biggest (non-athletic) ticketed event! We’re already planning how to make next year’s event an even more immersive nighttime garden experience.

Now that we’ve stowed the lights and wound up the miles of wire, I can give you an insider’s sneak peak into news that others won’t be getting until the new year. Our sister garden, Juniper Level Botanic Garden, will be offering memberships with some great benefits in 2024. I hope all of our JCRA family will consider a membership with JLBG as the perfect complement to their membership here. We plan to be among the first founding members of JLBG as we continue to help raise their endowment in anticipation of the long-term and sustainable growth of the JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Gardens.

See you in the garden.

The Necessary at McNeel Corner Is Getting a Facelift!

By Mark Weathington, Director

Few things at the JC Raulston Arboretum are as iconic as The Necessary and thanks to the generous support of Carol McNeel, it is getting an update to keep it fresh and fabulous for the coming decades. An amazing diamond patterned, copper roof (I just saw the mock-up today and it is amazing) is slated to be installed beginning in early December followed by a renovation of the interior and new surrounding gardens with improved accessibility.

As always, garden construction is a bit of an oxymoron. There always seems to be more destruction than construction in the short term but the end result is worth the effort. As we make the needed updates, expect to see some surrounding trees coming down and for The Necessary at McNeel Corner to be temporarily closed during construction. Once the dust settles, the beloved structure will be even more iconic and we have some very cool ideas for the surrounding landscape so watch this space!

Horticulture + Education = Green Fun!

By Elizabeth Overcash, Education & Communications Manager

We love including our Horticulture Team in the education programming here at the Arboretum! They have such a vast wealth of knowledge that we just can’t ignore. Before COVID, you would have to come to one of our paid programs or workshops to get exposure to their expertise. That, or you’d have to be lucky enough to stumble upon them working in the garden to hear their plant stories and garden tips. Now, you can see them and what they’re up to every week on our Midweek Programs. But even if we're seeing them a lot more, we didn't want to miss an opportunity to say “Thanks!” for all the other ways they help educate us and you.

This week, the Team is busy working with volunteers to prune our plant collection and amass a plethora of wreath-making supplies. Even though Tim is away from the garden on an adventure, he left his list for Greg and Sophia to check twice. The porch of our staff building is stacked so high with buckets of fun seed pods, berries, grasses, and other garden gems that you can barely see the windows. So for all of you who ordered a wreath to pick up or will be joining us for a wreath-making workshop, say a special thank you to the Hort Team and volunteers for the wonderful selection!

Also coming up in January, the Hort Team will be leading the Propagation Workshops. There will be an advanced workshop and a beginner workshop so no matter your knowledge, you can come learn from our experts! If you are a novice, sign up for the Beginner Propagation Workshop to learn from Sophia who is our propagation specialist. After sharing the science of propagation, she’ll take you out into the garden for a demonstration, and then give you some time to practice taking cuttings. Then you’ll learn how to stick cuttings of some plants that are (mostly) guaranteed to root. If you already know the science and just want time in the gardens collecting your cuttings, come spend the morning at the Advanced Propagation Workshop with Tim who will be your guide and give you advice on what will be most successful in January.

And as always, you can join us online Wednesdays at 3:00 pm to hear more about what they are doing in the gardens and other gardening topics! Or, you can always come take a walk in the gardens to see them in action and stop for a chat.

Connoisseur Plants, aka "Cool plants for Cool People!"

By Kathryn Wall, Membership and Volunteer Manager

If you're a fan of unique and hard-to-find plants, you might be interested in our Connoisseur Plants Program. The Arboretum has put together a special collection of plants for members who appreciate the extraordinary. These exclusive plants are available to qualifying members at our upper levels: Collector, Patron, Founder, Benefactor, and Philanthropist. Each membership tier includes a set of Connoisseur Plants as a thank-you for supporting the Arboretum's mission. Your membership is what keeps the Arboretum going strong.

If your current membership doesn't automatically qualify you for these special plants, it's easy to upgrade. Take a look at our membership table to select the level right for you. Just get in touch with Kathryn Wall at 919-513-7004 or to get the correct online link, or to make a payment over the phone. Make sure your upgrade is processed by December 31, 2023, to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

For qualifying members, we'll be sending out Connoisseur Plants catalogs via email in early 2024. Get ready for a fantastic selection that reflects our gratitude for your commitment to the Arboretum.

Winter Symposium: "The Obsessive Gardener"

By Blake Wentley, Education Assistant

If I can propose an understatement of the decade: Working at the JC Raulston Arboretum is really quite nice. Not only are we surrounded by a beautiful garden while we work alongside a great team of people, we are also constantly interacting with various plants-people and gardeners who are living their dreams and pursuing their passion. Not only that, we are always planning fantastic, inspiring and exciting events, which can make managing our excitement and anticipation for all the great things we have on the horizon one of the hardest parts of working here.

Our Winter Symposium "The Obsessive Gardener" is one such event that I’m eagerly anticipating. On the morning of Saturday, February 17, 2024, we will be celebrating our passion for plants by having three spectacular speakers who are simply going to blow everyone out of the water. Joseph Tychonievich, Catherine Bukowski, and Mike P. Gibson are all accomplished horticulturists who have devoted their lives to pursuing their passion. Not only that, but part of that passion happens to be sharing that passion, so they have the knowledge and experience to teach us something new, along with the capacity for oration that will surely captivate and inspire us all.

Registration for this event will be open by the time you read this, and y’all, it’s dirt cheap. It will be worth every penny even if you’re registering late as a nonmember, let alone what a steal it will be for our members taking advantage of the early registration rate.

I fully expect this Winter Symposium to be exactly the glimmer of hope that we’ll all need in the dead of winter, so I hope we’ll see you all there!

Register for In Person
Register for Online

Your Generosity Enhances the Future at JCRA

By: Amy Beitzel, Development Assistant

By now, many of you have received our annual year-end wish list in the mail or have visited our online website. Your generosity has already funded crucial projects, enhancing the Arboretum's accessibility, visitor experience and enriching the expertise of the JCRA staff.

We invite you to include the Arboretum and our remaining priority projects in your year-end giving plans. Your gift of any size is crucial to amplify our impact, extend our reach to the broadest audience, and inspire gardeners of all ages and abilities. Please reach out to Amy Beitzel at 919-515-1680 or to learn more.

We are honored to partner with thoughtful plant lovers who invest in the great things happening in our public garden. Your personal philanthropy is deeply appreciated as we strive to further our mission and continue fostering a community where the beauty and importance of plants flourish.

Turning Moonlight Madness into Moonlight Magic

By: Arlene Calhoun, Associate Director

Thank you all who helped spread the word about Moonlight in the Garden. Our boots on the ground effort worked! We sold 13,065 tickets; 12,734 were sold in advance; 8,039 were sold to nonmembers many of which had never been to the Arboretum before.

We’re still busy getting all the final numbers in place but here is a glimpse of this year’s moonlight magic.

Thank you to the groups who came out to help us with the event. Volunteers from Toshiba, Red Hat and OLLI helped with set up and luminaria. Students from NC State's Omega Phi Alpha, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Arnold Air Society and NCSU Silver Wings helped with the event. And of course our wonderful JCRA volunteers!

A big thank you to John Garner and his team at Southern Lights of Raleigh for creating this lighting exhibition and allowing us to share the Arboretum under the light of the moon.


12,734 Advance Tickets Sold

(in 2016: 1303)

9,549 Cups of Apple Cider Served

180 lbs of Marshmallows Roasted

800 Luminarias

5,950 Candles Burned

Volunteer Hours:


(131 hours spent installing wiring and other prep tasks)

Holiday Hours

The Arboretum will be open during the holidays.

Monday-Friday: 9:00 AM–4:30 PM

Saturday-Sunday: 10:00 AM–5:00 PM

The offices will be closed December 22 through January 1.

Upcoming Programs and Events

Plant Buggy

Daily at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center

Holiday Wreath Sales

Pickup times:

Friday, December 1–12:00 PM-2:00 PM

Saturday, December 2–10:00 AM-12:00 PM

Holiday Wreath Workshop

Full–Waitlist Started

Friday, December 1–1:00 PM-3:00 PM

In Person

Holiday Wreath Workshop

Full–Waitlist Started

Friday, December 1–4:00 PM-6:00 PM

In Person

Wine and Wreaths Workshop

Full–Waitlist Started

Friday, December 1–7:00 PM-9:00 PM

In Person

Garden Story Walk*

Saturday, December 2–Sunday, December 10, JCRA Open Hours

In Person

Holiday Wreath Workshop

Full–Waitlist Started

Saturday, December 2–1:00 PM-3:00 PM

In Person

Holiday Wreath Workshop

Full–Waitlist Started

Saturday, December 2–4:00 PM-6:00 PM

In Person

Wine and Wreaths Workshop

Full–Waitlist Started

Saturday, December 2–7:00 PM-9:00 PM

In Person

Outstanding Plants with Winter Interest

Bryce Lane, Distinguished Professor and Gardener

Mondays, November 27– December 18–6:30 PM-8:30 PM

In Person and Online

Plant-lover’s Tour

"Cut Greens for Decorating"

Mark Weathington, Director

Tuesday, December 5–1:00 PM-2:00 PM

In Person

Gardening 101

“December Gardening Tasks”

Horticulture Staff

Wednesday, December 6–3:00 PM-3:30 PM


Holiday Creations*

Thursday, December 7–10:00 AM-12:00 PM

In Person

Cottage Gardening from Seed

“Create an English-Inspired Garden in North Carolina”

Brie Arthur, Author and Horticulturist

Saturday, December 9–10:30 AM-1:00 PM

In Person

Girl Scout Program*

“Cadettes: Tree-iffic Tree”

Full–Waitlist Started

Sunday, December 10–2:00 PM-4:00 PM

In Person

Midweek with Mark

“Well-mannered Replacements for Garden Thugs”

Mark Weathington, Director

Wednesday, December 13–3:00 PM-3:30 PM


Garden Conversations

“Featuring Janice Swab”

Mark Weathington, Director

Wednesday, December 20–3:00 PM-4:00 PM


Coming Attractions

By JCRA Programs Staff & Volunteer Photographers

Mahonia napaulensis 'Maharajah'

Nepal mahonia

Fatsia japonica 'Variegata'

variegated Japanese fatsia

Camellia ×vernalis 'Shibori Egao'



Lenten rose

Videos Added to the JCRA YouTube Channel

Five programs were recorded in November and posted to our YouTube channel. Receive announcements about our latest additions by subscribing.

Gardening 101 - "November Gardening Tasks: Bonsai Edition"
NARGS Talk - Jon Roethling - "Reynolda Gardens: What Was Old Is New Again"
Plant-lover's Tour - "Fall Color"
Midweek with Mark - "Berries for Birds"
Deeper in the Garden - "Why We Gather Seed"

You're receiving this e-mail because you're a member of the JC Raulston Arboretum. JCRA e-Updates are published electronically every month. If you are a member and need to update your contact information or wish to be removed from this mailing, please contact Kathryn Wall at (919) 513-7004 or

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