Garden Conservancy's Open Days

Sponsored by the JC Raulston Arboretum

  • Saturday, April 13, 2013 – 9:00 am5:00 pm
  • Sunday, April 14, 2013 – 12:00 pm5:00 pm

The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Program comes to Raleigh, North Carolina, in April and September this year. This spring's tour features the gardens of Frances Alvarino and John Norwood, Nancy and John Brothers, JoAnn Dewar, Cecil J. Dykes, Amelia and Richard Lane, and Rita Mercer.

A portion of the proceeds from the weekend will benefit the JC Raulston Arboretum, a working research and teaching garden of NC State University.

Visitors may start the tour on either day at the JC Raulston Arboretum at 4415 Beryl Road in Raleigh, where discount admission tickets will be sold (six tickets for $25.00). Open Days are rain or shine, and no reservations are required. Call (888) 842-2442 or visit for more information. For local ticket information, please contact Anne Porter at the JC Raulston Arboretum at or (919) 513-3826.

Featured Gardens

Under the Loblolly Pines

Amelia and Richard Lane
4904 Hermitage Drive, Raleigh, NC 27612

Under the Loblolly Pines

This half-acre garden is enclosed by a canopy of native loblolly pines. The more open, front garden has a mixed planting of conifers, Japanese maples, and unique trees, shrubs, and perennials, many acquired as a member of the JC Raulston Arboretum. In back, the shady woodland garden features native azaleas, dogwoods, wildflowers, and hellebores offering a delightful beginning to spring. Rock-lined paths lead past native wildflowers, conifers, and spring blooming shrubs. Our garden is a daily source of learning, pleasure, and surprises. We are happy to share it with you.

Directions: Take Creedmoor Road north from Crabtree Valley Mall. Turn left onto Millbrook Road and then turn left onto Winthrop Drive. Take second right onto Hermitage Drive.

JoAnn's Garden

JoAnn Dewar
8240 Holly Springs Road, Raleigh, NC 27606

JoAnn's Garden

This garden was started as a result of Hurricane Fran in 1996. The property went from full shade to full sun over a twelve-hour period during which hurricane force winds pushed more than a dozen trees onto the house. JoAnn decided to start from scratch and build a garden where her customers could find inspiration as well as observe how certain plants perform. She owns a garden center beside this property and likes to trial plants to make sure new introductions live up to their billing. This garden changes seasonally as annual color is planted each season.

Directions: This garden is beside the parking lot of Fairview Greenhouses and Garden Center. The best place to park is in the garden center's parking lot.

Garden of Nancy and John Brothers

Nancy and John Brothers
1205 Westmoreland Drive, Raleigh, NC 27612

Garden of Nancy and John Brothers

This shade garden is a spring treasure of flora and fauna featuring many rescued North Carolina wildflowers. Stroll the gravel paths lined with flowering azaleas, spring bulbs, hellebores, and ferns. Tucked in along the way are wild ginger, bloodroot, spring beauty, trillium, foamflower, trout lily, May apple, Solomon's seal, spiderwort, Jack-in-the-pulpit, yellow lady's slipper, green and gold, and partridge berry. Bird feeders, birdbaths, and a working beehive invite wildlife to enjoy the garden as well. The backyard porch and deck offer a grand overview, while a meandering walk in the one-third acre garden reveals the hidden beauty of these fascinating native plants. Welcome to this North Carolina treat! Lemonade will be served on the deck.

Directions: From east and west take the I-440 Beltline north, take the Ridge Road exit. Once on Ridge Road, take the fourth street to the right, Westmoreland Drive. Our house is the second house on the left, a two story brick home. From inside the Beltline, take Glenwood Avenue to Glen Eden Drive. Take Glen Eden Drive to Ridge Road. Turn right onto Ridge Road and we are the first street on the left. House is the second on the left.
Please park on the street.

English Garden— Woodland Paradise

C. J. Dykes
105 Oakmist Drive, Cary, NC 27513

English Garden—Woodland Paradise

The mature (20 year old) gardens are made up of several garden rooms. At the front, you will find a formal French-style parterre and rose garden. Heading to the right, you will pass a mixed tree and shrub border housing many rare and unusual genera. You then pass through the formal gates into my own secret paradise of gardens surrounding the back of the house. These gardens are made up of mixed shrubs, palms, and perennials. You will also find heavily shaded garden under the deck. At the back of the garden, you'll walk through formal columns into a woodland paradise comprised of many woodland trees, shrubs, perennials, and ground covers.

Directions: Take I-40 to Harrison Avenue. Go to Cary Parkway and turn right. Go to Thorpe Drive and turn left. Take second left onto Rushingwater Drive. Turn right onto Oakmist Drive and go to third house on left. Please park on street.

Rita's Garden

Rita Mercer
103 Beechtree Court, Apex, NC 27523

Rita's Garden

Looking up into this shade garden at its peak in April is a spectacular sight. Rita's Garden is a relaxed and informal woodland garden, embellished with stone terracing and wooden decks and arbors. The garden is planted with an amazing array of shade-loving perennials, shrubs and trees— from pass-along plants, to rare and unique weeping specimens. Sun-lovers in pastel shades are prominent around the large pond at the entrance to the property. Later in the summer, a display of hot-colored flowering and foliage plants make the sunny hangar gardens (located at the west end of Cox Airfield) a haven for butterflies and hummingbirds.

Directions: From Raleigh and Cary, take the Beltline or Cary Parkway, to Route 1 South/Highway 64 West. Then exit onto Highway 64 West. Slow down when you see signs for Highway 55. The last street on right before Highway 55 is Fern Valley Lane. Turn right. Then turn right onto Beechtree Court.

Garden of Frances Alvarino Norwood and John Norwood

Frances Alvarino Norwood and John Norwood
6401 Litchford Road, Raleigh, NC 27615

Garden of Frances Alvarino Norwood and John Norwood

Hemlocks stand sentry over our sanctuary. Drifts of self-seeding heirloom annuals, poppies, larkspur, salvia, and nigella highlight the winding, herbaceous borders of peonies, foxgloves, and roses with sweet pea intertwined. Peaceful, soft pastels and swaths of varying foliage textures unify the main garden. Hidden around one corner is an intensive vegetable garden. Plantings of ferns, asarums, hellebores, and pulmonarias are tucked under dappled shade.

Directions: From I-540, take the Falls of Neuse Road exit. Turn left onto Falls Road. Continue 0.5 mile. Turn right on Litchford Road. Continue 2.7 miles. The garden is on the right. From I-440, take the Wake Forest Road exit. Turn left on Wake Forest Road (becomes Falls Road). Continue north 3.2 miles. Turn right on Spring Forest Road. Continue 1.4 miles. Turn left on Atlantic Avenue (becomes Litchford). Continue 0.4 miles. The garden is on the left.

How Are Future Gardens Selected?

Gardens must be at least two years old, exhibit a reasonable standard of maintenance, and possess one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Unity and harmony in the design
  • Strong and distinctive elements within the design
  • Appropriateness of the design in relation to the setting and surrounding landscape
  • Particularly effective or innovative use of the site or plantings
  • Interesting and/or unusual collection of plants
  • Aesthetic groupings of plants
  • Unique intermingling of plants and/or colors, textures, etc.
  • Aspects that educate, enlighten, and inspire the visitor
  • Ecologically sound design and maintenance techniques

In order to continue the program we need your help. If you would like to nominate your garden or a friend's garden for a future Garden Conservancy's Open Days, please contact Anne Porter at (919) 513-3826 or

Admission is $5.00 per garden, or get tickets six for $25.00 in advance at the JC Raulston Arboretum or at the gardens during the Open Days. No reservations required.
No reservations required, but tickets will be available prior to the event.
Six gardens in Raleigh and Cary, North Carolina.
Interactive maps coming soon.
Free parking is available at each of the gardens.
Call (888) 842-2442 or visit for more information. For local ticket information, contact Anne Porter at or (919) 513-3826.