JC Raulston Arboretum e-Update
October 2023

Abutilon flower

Your Monthly News and Updates

Director's Note

By Mark Weathington, Director

Finally the heat appears to have broken, at least for a bit and now it’s the JCRA staff’s favorite time of year—the big plant giveaway! Our list this year is pretty incredible. The “center row” items are enough to bring me to tears. For those who don’t know, the center rows at the giveaway are a hodge-podge of items we have in very low numbers but which are often extremely rare and choice. Greg took the reins this year and he’s been ruthless in helping Sophia clear out the nursery. I’ve been biting my tongue as incredible Itoh hybrid peonies, very cool conifers, and a variety of shade loving perennials get slated for distribution.

Of course the 100 or so “numbered” plants (link is included) are not too shabby either. The list includes everything from Araiostegia pseudocystopteris (hardy rabbit’s foot fern) to an unnamed highbush blueberry (Vaccinium) from former director Denny Werner’s home garden that he swears by. Quite a few of the plants come from seed exchanges and represent plants we’ve never even grown ourselves like the Chinese lilac, Syringa tomentella and hybrid Catalpa ×galleana of which Richard Olsen wrote for the International Dendrology Society, “Plants in the US are exceedingly rare…” The same could be said for quite a few others.

I do love giving plants away but I sometimes have a hard time letting them go.

See you in the garden.

Member holding plants

What You Need to Know About the
Annual Plant Giveaway - A Refresher!

JCRA Members-only Plant Giveaway
Saturday, October 7 – 9:00 AM (check in begins at 7:30 AM)
Giveaway starts at 9:00 AM SHARP!

No need to feel overwhelmed! Our road rules will guide you:

  1. Embrace the Welcome: Our warm-hearted volunteers and staff are here to steer you in the right direction. Ask if you're not sure.

  2. Pack Like a Pro: Equip yourself with a large bag, box, wagon or cart (mark those with a tied ribbon or pool noodle to help you distinguish from look-alikes) to carry all your plants home. You may want to bring a camp chair for early birds in the queue. Don't forget to line your trunk for easy plant loading.

  3. Timing Is Key: Allocate plenty of time for parking and check-in. Note all the construction impacting Blue Ridge Road to plan your route. Be prepared to park along Beryl Road. Handicap parking is available within the JCRA parking lot.

  4. Coffee and Confections: After 7:30 AM, treat yourself to coffee and baked delights, all for a small cash donation. The table will be near the entrance to the Japanese garden.

  5. Merch Alert! Explore our selection of JCRA caps, shirts, sweatshirts, and Director Mark Weathington's "Gardening in the South" book. These make great holiday presents for loved ones.

  6. Punctuality Matters: Arriving to the check in desk no later than 8:45 AM ensures ample time to get in place.

  7. Membership Magic: To expedite the process, bring your membership card. If it's misplaced, fret not; we'll verify your membership on our roster.

  8. New member and haven't received your membership card? No worries, we have you on the list! Come enjoy the fun.

  • Individual members = 1 admission per membership.
  • Family/Dual, Collector, Patron, and Founder members = 2 admissions.
  • Benefactor level members = 3 admissions.
  • Philanthropist members = 4 admissions.

As this event is exclusively for our valued members, we want to clarify a few important details.

  1. Can I bring non-members or children? Only members participating in the plant grab may enter the distribution area. Our distribution area spans a wide area, and we wouldn't want anyone to lose track of their group. Our goal is to ensure safety and that our members have an enjoyable experience. We recommend leaving children at home, or bringing an extra adult to watch them outside the distribution area. Thank you for your understanding!

  2. Membership Drive: If your membership has lapsed or a friend wishes to join for the first time, memberships will be available for purchase beginning at 7:30 AM. New members signing up that morning are eligible for the plant giveaway. Drive safely!

Curious about how everything works? Videos of the 2010 and 2011 giveaways are available on YouTube. The videos play ten times normal speed, though, so don't worry about having to run fast during the event!

TIP! Many members write the stake numbers on their hand. You can pick 3 different plants each round.

JCRA Friends of Arboretum Plant Giveaway Pregame Show

We made this video to give you the pre-game information you need!

Giveaway 2023 Plant List
members picking plants

Top 5 Picks for the Giveaway

By JCRA Horticulture Staff

We gathered the horticulture staff around the lunch table and asked them for their top picks from this year’s plant giveaway. Here’s what they said…

Juniperus cedrus One of the few plants that we can grow from the Canary Islands. It’s been growing in the conifer garden since 2013 and is approximately 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. (Tim)

Clematis tibetana Seed came through the Index Seminum. Delicate feathery foliage and nice yellow bell-shaped flowers. (Sophia)

Deutzia gracilis ‘Duncan’ This is a multiple season small shrub with fragrance. Chartreuse green foliage in the spring, completely covered in fragrant white flowers in late spring, good color in the summer, and then yellow fall color. Full Sun! (Greg)

Hedychium 'Sherry Baby' Add some scent to your life! This ginger flowers from July to frost with soft golden yellow blossoms on a compact plant that only gets four feet tall. (Tim)

Clethra alnifolia ‘Sherry Sue’ This is a do it all shrub. Can take wet or dry conditions, a pollinator magnet, and also has fragrance. Pink stems and creamy white flowers. And, it’s native. (Greg)

Plus, there are even more exciting plants in the centers, from A to V according to Tim. Rumor is that they ran out of stake numbers, so there are hidden treasures waiting to be found in the center. Pick plants from the numbered stakes or down the center. Either way, they guarantee you will be smiling when you leave!

Arboretum pedestrian gate lit with red white and blue colors

Help Spread the Good Word

By Arlene Calhoun, Associate Director

Moonlight in the Garden ticket sales are off to a great start with sales coming in from seven states: Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, and North Carolina from the mountains to the sea!

Community awareness is an important goal for this event, second only to raising funds for our daily operations. Last year we gained 310 memberships and 71% of our 11,000 tickets were sold to nonmembers.

I am looking for your help this year to make sure we have another sold-out year. Afterall, member and volunteer support have put us where we are today, and we are grateful.

Below are links to the event and posters you can print to hang in at your favorite library, gym, coffee shop, club house, breakroom, you get the idea. Feel free to attach them to an email to personally invite your family, friends, and community. Thanks in advance for helping to sprinkle a little grassroots marketing effort on this amazing event.

If you prefer, we have printed signs and rack cards available for pickup at the front desk of the Ruby McSwain Education Center.

Event links to share:

Links to poster files to print your own or download and share via email invites.

8.5” x 11” Poster
12” x 18” Poster
Rack Card

Full transparency: We only need 562 members to hit our goal of 5,000 members. Help us connect with our vast ever-changing community. We are a wonderful, plant-loving, family-friendly, admission-free garden with free weekly programs. We are here to welcome and connect with our community.

Thanks in advance! We appreciate you!

four arboretum members

An Indelible Community with a Passion for Plants

By Amy Beitzel, Development Assistant

What makes the JC Raulston Arboretum special? It’s not just the extensive plant collection, the engaging programs, or our partnership with a leading Horticultural Science Department that sets us apart. What truly makes this public garden exceptional is . . . YOU!

J. C. Raulston founded this Arboretum envisioning a thriving community committed to horticulture research, education, and conservation. Today, that vision is a reality. Our dedicated volunteers spend thousands of hours nurturing JCRA garden spaces. Our student interns gain invaluable experience, propelling them towards successful careers in the green industry. Our volunteer Board of Advisors lends their time and expertise guiding us toward fulfilling the JCRA mission. And throughout the garden, engraved bricks and benches honor the legacy of loved ones.

We deeply appreciate each and every one of you who contribute to this indelible Arboretum community. Your memberships, program and event registrations, plant purchases, and philanthropic gifts all play a crucial role in keeping us deeply engaged in the world of horticulture and research. Your support provides countless opportunities for gardeners of all ages to learn and share. Because of you, we are recognized as one of the South’s premiere teaching and research gardens. Thank you for being an integral part of our success!

We invite you to share your stories with us and let us know "What inspires YOU to invest your time and resources supporting the Arboretum." Your voices and experiences are what make this community truly special. Together, we continue to cultivate a thriving oasis of knowledge and inspiration for all.

“Why I Give…”

Tales of Apples

By Elizabeth Overcash, Education and Communications Manager

About 100 members and friends gathered for the Friends of the Arboretum lecture in September featuring Diane Flynt and her new book, "Wild, Tamed, Lost, Revived: The Surprising Story of Apples in the South" along with David Vernon of Century Farm Orchards and Ann Marie Thornton of James Creek Cider House. It was enlightening night listening to Diane's stories, tasting apples that David Vernon brought, and sampling cider from James Creek Cider House.

If you weren't able to join us that night, we recorded the lecture portion of the event and have it ready to share. Make sure to grab an apple or some cider to enjoy as you watch it!

Lecture Recording
Tea Cup Gin performing

A Night to Remember

By Arlene Calhoun, Associate Director

The Moonlight in the Garden Preview Night offers a more premier experience for those looking for a night to enjoy this year's display at a slower pace with a much smaller crowd. We limit the number of tickets for this special evening to only 500 tickets, only 175 remain.

Southern-fusion small plates from Rocky Top Catering will replace the food trucks and opening night is the only night beer and wine will be served. Tea Cup Gin returns with their indie-jazz sound topping off the more intimate Moonlight experience.

The gates will open at 6:30 pm for Arboretum members and their guests. A full 30 minutes before the evening officially starts at 7:00 pm. To welcome our members, the band will be playing, the bar open and the chef’s ready to serve a delectable fall menu.

Come join us. We look forward to seeing you there. 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 will join us for this unique fundraiser. Bring a friend or two—the more, the merrier.

Buy tickets for Preview Night or Moonlight in the Garden
Japanese maple in garden

Wellness in the Garden

By Elizabeth Overcash, Education and Communications Manager

On September 19, we participated in the University's Wellness Day for students. We invited the University community to come picnic on the Great Lawn or take a self-guided meditation walk to connect with nature and relax for a moment. The self-guided meditative walk was available as a brochure to read as you walked or as a video to listen to. (You can experience the walk next time you're in the garden or at home by accessing it on our YouTube channel!) It was wonderful to see so many students walking the gardens and finding delight in the rabbit hopping by.

Shawn Ramsey was also part of the day. She led two forest therapy mini sessions for students and gave them ideas on ways to incorporate meditation back on campus. Even though the sessions were short, the impact on the students was huge. One student had been feeling homesickness but the walk had helped them connect with a plant or tree from home. Shawn will be back this month to lead two full sessions of forest therapy, on Thursday, October 26 and Sunday, October 29 so you can experience this mindful connection to nature!

Thursday Morning Forest Therapy Session

Sunday Morning Forest Therapy Session
perennial border at dusk

Evening Garden Stroll

Tuesday, October 10, 2023 – 4:00 PM–7:00 PM

Take a break from your weekly grind and come enjoy the gardens during our Evening Garden Stroll! The gardens will remain open until 7:00 pm on Tuesday, October 10. A free public tour of the Arboretum will be offered at 5:00 pm, departing from the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center. Take advantage of this last opportunity of the year to visit the garden after hours for a stroll through our premiere collection of flowering trees, shrubs, and perennials.

October's Highlight will be a pop-up sale by the Central Carolina Chrysanthemum Society. Come check it out under the Visitor Center patio before or after your stroll!

purple flowers

Upcoming Programs and Events

Plant Buggy

Daily at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center

Garden Story Walk*

Sunday, October 1– Sunday October 8, JCRA Open Hours

In Person

P-Squared: Planting & Pruning for the Home Gardener

Bryce Lane, Distinguished Professor and Gardener

Mondays, September 11– October 16–6:30 PM-8:30 PM

In Person and Online

Plant-Lover’s Tour

“Conferring on Conifers”

Greg Paige, Director of Horticulture

Tuesday, October 3–1:00 PM-2:00 PM

In Person

Seeds on the Move, Grades K-2*

Garden Science

Wednesday, October 4–11:00 AM-12:15 PM

In Person

Seeds on the Move, Grades 3-5*

Garden Science

Wednesday, October 4–1:00 PM-2:30 PM

In Person

Gardening 101

“October Gardening Tasks”

The Horticulture Team

Wednesday, October 4–3:00-3:30 PM


Garden Storytime*

Friday, October 6–10:00 AM-11:00 AM

In Person

Friends of the Arboretum Annual Plant Giveaway

Saturday, October 7–9:00 AM-9:15 AM

In Person

Foodscaping with Brie!

Lecture and Inspiration Tour

Brie Arthur, Author and Horticulturist

Lecture at the JCRA - Saturday, October 7–10:00 AM-12:00 PM

Garden Tour at Brie’s - Saturday, October 14–2:00 PM-5:00 PM

In Person

Evening Garden Stroll

Tuesday, October 10–4:00 PM-7:00 PM

In Person

Midweek with Greg

“Tool Maintenance”

Greg Paige, Director of Horticulture

Wednesday, October 11–3:00 PM-3:30 PM


Photography Walk

“Top Tips for Photographing Fall Color”

Mary Louise Ravese, Bella Vista Photography

Thursday, October 12–10:00 AM-12:00 PM

In Person

All About Cotton, Grades K-2*

Garden Science

Thursday, October 12–11:00 AM-12:15 PM

In Person

All About Cotton, Grades 3-5*

Garden Science

Thursday, October 12–1:00 PM-2:30 PM

In Person

Deeper in the Garden

"Grassy Plants"

Tim Alderton

Wednesday, October 18–3:00 PM-3:30 PM


It's Time for Pumpkins!, Grades K-2*

Garden Science

Friday, October 20–11:00 AM-12:15 PM

In Person

It's Time for Pumpkins!, Grades 3-5*

Garden Science

Friday, October 20–1:00 PM-2:30 PM

In Person

North American Rock Garden Society (Piedmont Chapter) Lecture

"Conifers for Rock Gardens"

Sandy Horn

Co-Hosted by the Piedmont Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society and the JC Raulston Arboretum

Saturday, October 21–10:00 AM-11:30 AM

In Person and Online

Girl Scout Program*

Buggin' Out!

Sunday, October 22–2:00 PM-4:00 PM

In Person

Gardening Adventures with Master Gardener Volunteers

Monday, October 23–10:00 AM-11:30 AM


Garden Conversations

"Featuring John Dole"

Dennis Carey, Curator

Wednesday, October 25–3:00 PM-4:00 PM


Forest Therapy

A Guided, Immersive Experience

Shawn Ramsey

Thursday, October 26–10:00 AM-12:00 PM

In Person

Fern Propagation Workshop

Bob Payne, Wake County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer

Saturday, October 28–9:00 AM-12:00 PM

In Person

Forest Therapy

A Guided, Immersive Experience

Shawn Ramsey

Sunday, October 29–10:15 AM-12:15 PM

In Person

✽Denotes a children's program.

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

pond scence

Coming Attractions

By the JCRA Programs Team

red holly berries

Ilex 'Carolina Cardinal'

"hybrid winterberry holly"

purple crocus flowers

Crocus sativus

"saffron crocus"

white scabiosa flower

Scabiosa owerinii

orange crab apples

Malus micromalus

"Kaido crab apple"

Videos added to our YouTube Channel

In September, we added 7 new videos to our YouTube channel.

Plant-lover's Tour - "Memo from the Monocots"
Gardening 101 - "September Gardening Tasks"
Midweek with Greg & Ann - "Horticulture and Mental Health"
NARGS Talk - Jerry Yu - "Discovering Ecuador’s Highland Alpines and Orchids"
Deeper in the Garden - "Big Honkin' Trees"
Master Gardener Talk - "Attracting Wildlife and Butterflies"
Garden Conversations - "Featuring Shannon Currey"

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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