JC Raulston Arboretum e-Update
May 2023

Your Monthly News and Updates

Director's Note

By Mark Weathington, Director

Wow, I can’t remember a spring quite like this one with temperatures in the upper 70’s as we enter May. Flowers are lasting longer on my peonies than usual - not to mention that I’m lasting longer in the garden with these pleasant days. It would be nice if it didn’t rain every weekend but you can’t have everything I suppose.

May is always a fun time in the Arboretum as we bring in fresh faces with our new class of interns. I’m especially excited by our new Communications intern position. Public horticulture is about more than plants - the communication with our audiences makes what we do have the greatest impact. The better we communicate, the bigger the impact and the more we can effect change.

It’s too nice for more writing, I’m heading outside.

See you in the garden.

Vietnam and Cambodia - Don’t Miss Out!

Wow, the response to our announced trip to visit Angkor Wat, Cambodia and travel down the famed Mekong River to Saigon, Vietnam frankly was a bit overwhelming. Once the dust settled, it looks like we only have a few double rooms still available. The trip is a once in a lifetime experience and I really am excited to share it with you.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:

Why will we be on a ship for most of the trip?

Much of the area we will be exploring does not necessarily have the accommodations that will be as comfortable as many of us are accustomed to. Our first class ship will be our traveling hotel and restaurant to provide the very best experience with incredible food and sumptuous rooms.

What is the most interesting/exciting part of the trip for me?

Every day is an adventure as far as I’m concerned. The temples of the Angkorian peoples being eaten by the jungle, immersion into Khmer villages and a demonstration of their martial art Bokator, flocks of waterfowl in the thousands, sampan tours of mangrove swamps, floating markets, preserved Viet Cong tunnels. Just read the itinerary and see if there is a day that wouldn’t be amazing.

What will the weather be like?

Well, January is considered the cool part of the year so expect May/June Raleigh weather (75-85F). November to March is usually considered the best months for visiting the region so we are right in the sweet spot. We will also be smack in the middle of the dry season. Of course, dry can be a relative term in SE Asia.

How fit do I need to be?

You should be able to stand for extended periods of time, walk 2-3 miles over uneven terrain, and maneuver up and down narrow ship stairways and gangplanks unassisted.

Feel free to reach out to Mark Weathington or our travel partners at Earthbound Expeditions for more information - but don’t wait too long the last rooms will likely fill up quick!

Learn More

Southeastern Plant Symposium

Hosted by the JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Friday and Saturday, June 16 and 17

Hilton Raleigh North Hills

2 Full Days--13 Expert Speakers

Are you sometimes accused of being a little plant-geeky? If you would consider it paradise to mingle with luminaries in the horticultural universe, then join us for an exclusive, two-day immersion into the latest and greatest developments in the world of plants. Our roster of speakers includes distinguished plant breeders, renowned plant explorers, and acclaimed experts from academia and botanic gardens.

But that's not all. Prepare to be swept away by the feverish excitement of the silent auction at the Southeastern Plant Symposium. This one-of-a-kind event is the largest auction of its kind and has earned a reputation for featuring the rarest and most elusive plants on the planet. Whether you're a seasoned plant collector or simply looking to expand your knowledge, this is an opportunity not to be missed. So mark your calendars and get ready to indulge your passion for all things green!

Speakers, Schedule & Details
In Person Registration
Online Registration

And the Award Goes To…

By Dennis Carey, Curator

A tree at the JC Raulston Arboretum was recently designated the winner of Raleigh’s 2023 Tree of the Year. Thanks to all of you who voted for it!

The city is going to award us a certificate and construct a small sign to place next to the tree to help the public learn about it. The JCRA will also be mentioned on the Raleigh Parks and Recreation website.

The winning tree is the emblem of the JCRA, a dissected, red-leaved, semi-weeping form of the popular landscape plant, Acer palmatum (Japanese maple). It is one of over 160 Japanese maples in our collections. This particular plant is located in the entrance drive circle at the JC Raulston Arboretum and is easy to find, even if you have never been to the JCRA before. This plant has long been the emblem of the JCRA. Our founder, Dr. J. C. Raulston, loved Japanese maples and had an unofficial goal of having a Japanese maple within viewing range of every spot in the arboretum. Every November we light up this tree at night during our Moonlight in the Garden event and it glows beautifully.

This tree has a lot of history. As of today (May 2023) it is 52 years old and was first purchased 11-2-1970. It has existed at its current location on the JCRA property since 2002. It was donated to the JCRA by Bobby Wilder, who was a good friend of J. C. Raulston and a supporter of the Arboretum.

You can see several photos of this taxon here that represent the winning tree and other specimens of it that we have at the JCRA. Here is a map showing the location of this tree at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Come on by and take a look!

Join us for the May Evening Garden Stroll

Bring your friends and family and join us for the free Evening Garden Stroll when the gardens are open for extended hours on May 9, June 13, July 11,
August 8, September 12, and October 10. On those Tuesday evenings, the garden hours are extended until 7:30 PM.

This month we're featuring a Frog Scavenger Hunt, fun for all ages! Pick up a tip sheet at the Visitor Center and look for all 12 silly frogs, hiding around the Arboretum.

Busy Bees in the Children’s Programs

by Joy Burns, School Program Coordinator

To say we’ve been busy this spring with children’s programming would be an understatement!

We welcomed 1,400 elementary school students to the garden over the past two months on school field trips. Our volunteers have done an amazing job teaching the in’s and out’s of plant life. What fun it has been to see the smiles, hear the laughter, and observe those “light bulb” moments when a student makes a connection with nature.

Make sure you visit the Yurt yard in the coming weeks to see the amazing artistic contribution Wake County students have made to our garden! Local adult artists were invited to paint wood posts in bright colorful patterns in the style of Mexican folk art known as alebrije, so we invited the schools who scheduled field trips with us this spring to make their own contribution! Students applied this creative painting style to six-foot wood fence pickets which now adorn our Yurt garden–and are not to be missed!

Garden Storytime returns for our youngest visitors, ages 2-5. After a stroll in the garden, preschoolers and their parents will enjoy a garden story read-aloud and then making a nature craft to take home. Programs are held Friday mornings at 10 am: May 19, May 26, June 2; and June 16. Registration required.

I Spy! Walks also return! Perfect for kids ages 4-12, these tours are a fun, interactive way to enjoy a guided walk through the Arboretum. The hour-long experience begins with an introduction at the Visitor Center before exploring the garden with a tour guide to focus on a chosen topic. At the end of the program, pick up a "Take and Make" craft or science activity to complete at home. Spring topics will include: Blooming Fun!, Art in the Garden, and Bees & Butterflies. Programs are held Thursdays mornings at 10:30 am, May 25, June 8, and June 22. Registration required.

Register for Upcoming Children's Programs

Educational Highlights

JCRA Programs Team

Whether you have a sprawling garden or a tiny balcony, we believe that gardening is a joy that anyone can experience. Are you craving some inspiration?

Awesome Combinations for Every Garden
Brie Arthur, Author, Horticulturist, and Lifelong Home Gardener
Saturday, May 20 – 10:00 AM

Join Brie Arthur’s in person and online presentation covering all the best, new, tried, and true varieties for your garden. Whether you want to spruce up your selections or learn more about plants, she will reveal what’s easiest to grow and most beautiful to show.

Propagation Workshop
"Advanced Softwood Cuttings"
Tim Alderton, Research Technician
Friday, May 26 – 8:30 AM

It’s back! Join JCRA staff in this in person advanced hands-on workshop propagating woody ornamental plants with stem cuttings. Participants will briefly review tips and tricks for propagation, but shouldn’t attend unless they have propagation experience.

Propagation Workshop
"Beginner Softwood Cuttings"
Sophia McCusker, Nursery Technician
Friday, May 26 – 1:30 PM

If you feel like you need a refresher or are just beginning your propagation journey, join JCRA staff for this instructional workshop. Here, you will learn the basics about propagating woody ornamental plants with stem cuttings!

Photo Composition 101

Mary Louise Ravese, Bella Vista Photography

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 – 10:00 AM–12:00 PM
No matter what camera you have, one sure way to improve your photography is to use tried and true strategies for composing the design of your shot. Make more dynamic images of your garden subjects by learning about a handful of easy to remember compositional guidelines. After the lecture portion of the class, we will practice putting these guidelines into use by exploring the Arboretum with our cameras.

"Shoot Through" Creative Flower Photography Technique
Mary Louise Ravese, Bella Vista Photography
Thursday, June 22, 2023 – 9:30 AM–11:30 AM

In the "shooting through" flower photography technique, we use flowers positioned close to the lens to creatively "frame" our flower subjects in the distance. When photographed with a telephoto lens, and an appropriate aperture, the framing flowers will become an undefined "wash of color", producing a creative photographic effect for a flower portrait image.

Propagation Workshop
"Advanced Softwood Cuttings"
Tim Alderton, Research Technician
Saturday, June 3 – 8:30 AM

It’s back! Join JCRA staff in this in person advanced hands-on workshop propagating woody ornamental plants with stem cuttings. Participants will briefly review tips and tricks for propagation, but shouldn’t attend unless they have propagation experience.

"Beginner Softwood Cuttings"
Sophia McCusker, Nursery Technician
Saturday, June 3 – 1:30 PM

During this class, you will learn how to take stem cuttings, what rooting hormones are, and how to care for cuttings as they root through demonstration and hands-on application!

Sizzling Succulents
Brie Arthur, Author, Horticulturist, and Lifelong Home Gardener
Saturday, June 24, 2023 – 9:00–11:00 AM – Lecture for Online and In Person
Saturday, June 24, 2023 – 11:00 AM–12:00 PM – Container Planting for In Person Participants (supplies included)

Low maintenance, drought tolerant and eye catching, Sizzling Succulents will encourage everyone to indulge in this sustainable growing trend!

If you have questions about any of these programs, please contact us at

Register for Upcoming Adult Classes
Register for Upcoming Adult Workshops

Upcoming Programs and Events

Evening Garden Stroll

Tuesday, May 9 – 4:00 PM

In Person

Midweek with Mark

“Top Ten Broadleaf Evergreens”

Mark Weathington

Wednesday, May 10 – 3:00 PM


Deeper in the Garden

JCRA Staff

Wednesday, May 17 – 3:00 PM


Garden Storytime✽

Friday, May 19 – 10:00 AM

In Person

Awesome Combinations for Every Garden

Brie Arthur

Saturday, May 20 – 10:00 AM

In Person and online

Gardening Adventures with Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

Monday, May 22 – 10:00 AM


Gardening Conversations

Greg Paige

Wednesday, May 24 – 3:00 PM


Propagation Workshop

“Advanced Softwood Cuttings”

Tim Alderton

Friday, May 26 – 8:30 AM

Garden Storytime✽

Friday, May 26 – 10:00 AM

In Person

Propagation Workshop

“Beginner Softwood Cuttings”

Sophia McCusker

Friday, May 26 – 1:30 PM

Photography Walk

“Photo Composition 101”

Mary Louise Ravese

Wednesday, May 31 – 10:00 AM

In Person

Horticulture Hour

JCRA Horticulture Staff

Wednesday, May 31 – 3:00 PM


Coming Attractions

Lilium 'Kentucky'
hybrid lily

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Turkey Heaven'
oakleaf hydrangea

Acanthus dioscoridis var. perringii


Thank you to photographers Don Chernoff, Nancy Doubrava, Ira Tucker, Blake Wentley, and Tim Alderton for their contributions in this month's e-Update.

YouTube Channel Update

Seven videos were recorded in April and were posted to our YouTube channel. Join the 6,419 subscribers so you receive announcements about our latest additions and don't miss a thing. Many thanks to our tech crew volunteers, Carol and Alexander Lawrence.

Plant-lover's Tour - "Garden Highlights"
Gardening 101 - "April Gardening Tasks"
Midweek with Greg - "Privacy Through Planting"
NARGS Talk - Jay Sifford - "Making Garden Magic: Designing Gardening Spaces"
Deeper in the Garden - "Acer"
Master Gardener Lecture - "Gardening Strategies to Control Pests and Diseases"
Garden Conversations - "Weed Talk Featuring Joe Neal"

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

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