Friends of the JC Raulston Arboretum Newsletter

Fall 2013 – Vol. 17, No. 2

Director’s Letter

Dragon Leads the Way

By Ted Bilderback, Ph.D., Director

The centerpiece of the 2013 Gala theme, “An Asian Reflection,” was the dragon. And not just any dragon! This artwork was conceived, designed, and constructed by the Department of Horticultural Science’s small-scale landscape design studio taught by professors Will Hooker and Anne Spafford. The Asian dragon took 15 days and over 1,200 hours and 100 bamboo stems for construction. Estimating how many pictures have been taken while people pose with the dragon would just be a wild guess. Calling this exquisite art “the dragon” seemed a bit impersonal for our visiting celebrity, so the JCRA held a name-the-dragon contest through August 1. Visitors, friends, families, and kids of all ages were invited to post their favorite names to the JCRA Facebook page. Participants were also encouraged to add their photograph with the dragon when they entered the contest. The prize for the winner was a three-gallon tub of NC State’s Howling Cow ice cream. See page four for details about the contest results.

The Gala, held a week early on April 28, started with great decorations and anticipation as guests began winding their way through the garden, past the cascade, and up along the winding path in Asian Valley. A brief stop for a sparkling libation in the circle along the Asian Valley path added to the excitement of the journey up the remaining curving path, into the Japanese Garden along the stone walkway, through the Lath House, and finally emerging in the center of the event lawn. There he was: the dragon with red glowing eyes and his tongue playfully extended. Not a bad way to start a Gala! Even though it began raining about half way through the afternoon, it did not wash away the enthusiasm for a fun garden party. Guests enjoyed good food and conversations and had time to tend to their silent auction bids between showers. The finale included a Taekwondo demonstration with Richard Linton, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' dean, participating in the board-breaking exercise; music performed with a very unique stringed instrument constructed from paulownia tree wood; and a chorus of synchronized percussion beats played by a group of performing musicians.

The Gala dragon gave the JCRA a boost in publicity with a feature article in NC State University’s Bulletin on May 24 and a drawing included with other illustrations in a feature article in the June/July 2013 Walter magazine. We also got some attention in social media with a hashtag and a sign encouraging visitors to tweet about the dragon during their visit. The Facebook name-the-dragon contest has also been a positive step into the universe of current communication. The dragon’s image helped capture attention in cyberspace beyond our normal reach. I think the JCRA’s social media presence could be described by saying “we’re fixin’ to get ready” to make some big steps. Improving our public relations outreach is the next frontier. We need to reach more people and shout out to the business community about what a great place the JCRA is for their next meeting or conference. If you would like to help us market the JCRA, please let us know.



Acer pentaphyllum

By Mark Weathington, Assistant Director and Curator of Collections

Acer pentaphyllum

Maples have always been one of the key collections of the JC Raulston Arboretum as evidenced by the Japanese maple leaf that makes up our logo. Like most tree guys, I personally have always loved maples as well, and some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around trips to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive in Virginia during the fall to see the maples, hike, and pick apples. So when I was offered the opportunity to procure some seedlings of wild collected Acer pentaphyllum, one of the rarest maples in cultivation, I jumped at the chance.

Acer pentaphyllum was first discovered by Westerners in 1929 when the great plant hunter Joseph Rock found it in the Yalung valley in Sichuan (Szechuan), China. He introduced the plant at that time, but by 1976 there were no recorded specimens of his 1929 introduction still alive. A mature plant was growing in the San Francisco Botanical Garden (then the Strybing Arboretum) at that time, and plants were grafted from that tree and grown some on the West Coast. That tree and all of its propagules and offspring are thought to have derived from a later introduction of seed from a Chinese professor to Joseph Rock.

Quarryhill Botanic Garden with the University of British Columbia Botanic Garden and Centre for Plant Research and other partners set out to re-collect this lovely maple several years ago, tracking down and collecting seed from every specimen they could find. Botanists predict that the species will be extinct in the wild within another decade as the populations are scattered and are vulnerable to grazing goats, timber collection, flooding, and other dangers. After a highly successful trip, seedlings were grown out and distributed to several gardens, including the JC Raulston Arboretum. Quarryhill has set aside nearly two acres on which to grow 200 plants for ex situ conservation with the ultimate goal of being in a position to re-populate the native range of A. pentaphyllum at some point.

This maple is quite worthy of a place in the garden where it will grow to about 25’–30’ tall and nearly as wide. Mature plants have gray bark and leaves which are divided all the way back to their petiole, sporting generally five to seven leaflets. Fall color ranges from yellow to outstanding red. At least one of the JCRA’s seedlings has exhibited brilliant red color. The extremely fine texture of young plants is quite attractive and larger specimens supply light, dappled shade making them useful for gardening beneath. The JCRA has seven plants scattered around the garden, representing six different collections. A. pentaphyllum is widely considered to be a relatively tender plant, but all plants have survived their first (admittedly mild) winter in Raleigh. We hope to begin propagating these trees in the not-too-distant future in line with our belief in conservation through propagation.


Planting the Seeds for Development

By Anne M. Porter, Director of Development

Sir Walter Snarleigh

And the Winner Is … Everyone!

Sir Walter Snarleigh is the new name for the JCRA dragon on display in Asian Valley, and Jerry Horn of Lees Summit, Missouri, is the winner of the name-the-dragon contest held last summer. Amber Harmon, the contest’s runner-up, submitted Dragonium raulstonii ‘Hooker’s Delight’ which we’re using as his Latin name.

Pat Adams won the random drawing for names submitted, but everyone is a winner when they come out to the Arboretum and visit the dragon!

Most of you know by now that Will Hooker and Anne Spafford’s small-scale landscape design studio built this sculpture out of bamboo. Justin Durango (a 2012 intern) created the winning design, and it took the class and many volunteers 15 days to build it.

Did you know that the JC Raulston Arboretum Board of Advisors generously sponsored the project? Our special thanks go to Ted Bilderback, Doug Chapman, John Dole, Jerry Jackson, David Johnson, Cheryl Kearns, Amelia Lane, Karen Neill, Anne Porter, Rodney Swink, Bobby Ward, and Mike Worthington for their financial support.

Members Corner

By Anne M. Porter, Director of Development, and Judy Morgan-Davis, Membership and Special Projects Coordinator

Membership Makes a Difference!

These are just a few ways that your support makes a big difference:

  • The continued expansion of excellent plant collections and new gardens
  • The gardens maintained in top performance and beauty
  • The outstanding educational programs for all ages
  • The resources for most JCRA staff salaries
  • The Student Internship Program
  • The Children’s Program
  • The volunteer program
  • And so much more

Your membership and special gifts really do make an important impact on the JC Raulston Arboretum, and we sincerely thank you and deeply appreciate your continued advocacy and support.

And Remember … Membership Can Make a Difference for You, Too!

The JC Raulston Arboretum strives to offer the most outstanding benefits to its members, including:

  • Members-only plant giveaway held every fall on the first Saturday in October
  • More than 25 free to members lectures and garden tours throughout the year
  • Advance registration and discounts for workshops, symposia, and children’s programs (some workshops are for members only)
  • Plus, there’s something for every member through the 2013 JCRA Benefit Providers program, including the American Horticultural Society's Reciprocal Admissions Program. For all the 2013 updates, please visit the JCRA’s Web site.

If you have any questions regarding your membership, please contact Judy Morgan-Davis at (919) 513-0264 or

Members Making News

The JC Raulston Arboretum is extremely fortunate to have so many talented friends and donors. If you are a member making news or know of one, please let us know so that we can share it with our friends.

2013 Fred Fletcher Outstanding Volunteer Awards

Since 1996, the City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department and the Parks, Recreation, and Greenway Advisory Board have awarded Fred Fletcher Awards for Outstanding Volunteerism in the City of Raleigh parks system. The Fred Fletcher Volunteer Awards program honors volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to the programs, services, and facilities offered by the Department. This year's recipients included Arboretum member Walter Bull, who earned the Outstanding Adopt-A-Park Volunteer award for his service at the Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden. Judy Morgan-Davis, JCRA membership and special projects coordinator, earned the Outstanding Project Volunteer award for her contributions at the Joslin Garden.

Rodney Swink

JCRA Board member, Rodney Swink, was appointed to the Raleigh Planning Commission.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

The Awards Committee of the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) honored Sarah P. Duke Gardens with the association’s 2013 Horticulture Magazine Award for Garden Excellence. This award is given annually to a public garden that exemplifies the highest standards of horticultural practices. The award was presented at the APGA annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 21, 2013. Congratulations and very well done!

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Sarah P. Duke Gardens is a generous sponsor of the JC Raulston Arboretum’s Benefits Provider program. JCRA members receive the SPDG Friends rate for classes and programs.

Love in Full Bloom at the JC Raulston Arboretum

Contributed by Heather Rollins, Fairview Garden Center

We Met in Horticulture Club

A love story doesn’t get much more romantic than that. We are self-proclaimed plant geeks and proud of it. Our relationship began at NC State while taking plant identification walks through the JC Raulston Arboretum with Paul Fantz, Ph.D., and attending Horticulture Club banquets in the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center. My fervor for plants blossomed as a result of my time spent in the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State.

My husband Brad Rollins, however, was born and bred with a passion for plants. His playpen was a cardboard box filled with cuttings on the greenhouse floor. Brad’s grandmother, Jo Ann Dewar, built her first greenhouse in 1973. Brad is now a proud third generation owner at Fairview Garden Center in Raleigh.

the Rollins family

As the generations at Fairview Garden Center have progressed, so have our customer’s ideals of gardening. We still see plenty of customers with an enthusiasm for working in their garden and acquiring new plants (thank you Friends of the Arboretum). When Brad and I ask young families in their late 20s to early 30s what they think about gardening, their response is, “We don’t know where to start.”

We feel that it is very important to encourage younger generations to have a passion for plants. Wouldn’t it be great if future love stories began with, “We met at the Arboretum”?

Heather Rollins graduated with a B.S. in horticultural science from NC State in 2005. She joined the Fairview family business as director of marketing in November 2012. Fairview Garden Center generously named the Administrative Offices during the Raise the Roof Campaign and has been a benefit provider to the JC Raulston Arboretum for many years, extending a 10% discount to Arboretum members.

2013 Open Days Garden Tours

By Jayme Bednarczyk, JCRA Member and Volunteer and Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

Since 2006, more than $25,000 has been given to the JC Raulston Arboretum through the partnership with the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program. This would not have been possible without the gracious garden hosts who open their gardens and designated the JCRA as the nonprofit organization of their choice. A very special thank you to the 2013 spring and fall garden hosts!

The 2013 Open Days Tours featured six amazing gardens in the spring and four stunning gardens in the fall. Please help us thank this year’s garden hosts: Frances Alvarino and John Norwood, Nancy and John Brothers, JoAnn Dewar, C. J. Dykes, Pat Grady, Amelia and Richard Lane, Bryce Lane, Rita Mercer, Peggy Titus, and Helen Yoest.

There’s more exciting gardens to see in 2014. Stay tuned.

Bryce Lane’s garden


Volunteer News

By Barbara Kennedy, Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteers have such busy and interesting lives. Unfortunately, some leave us as situations change in their lives. One such volunteer is Melanie Kelley. When Melanie began volunteering in February 2010, she jumped in with both feet and began helping in the gardens, working on special events, and finally overseeing the Klein-Pringle White Garden. Melanie moved to the beach in April and has been busy settling in. We thank Melanie for her many contributions. We’ll miss her.

Melanie Kelley

Do you have any marketing, public relations, or media experience you would like to share? We are looking for volunteers who would like to use their experience in helping the Arboretum on special projects. Please e-mail me, Barbara Kennedy, at if you are interested.

Our Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center needs a few volunteers who enjoy meeting people and sharing information with visitors about our beautiful arboretum. If you would like to volunteer one day a month, that would be great. Please see me, and we can set up a schedule.

New Volunteers

In the past six months, we’ve had 22 new volunteers join us. We are glad to have them and welcome their support.

Arlene Calhoun – Visitor Center and Special Projects
Tara Carr – Children’s Program and Special Events
Loretta Del Palazzo – Gardening and Special Events
Sarah Dixon – Gardening
Jeff Forshee – Construction Team
JoAnn Gow – Children’s Program
Jean Gross – Gardening
Douglass Gross – Gardening
Cameron Homes – Water Gardens
Sheryl Leidecker – Gardening
Kathleen Lichtenstein – Special Projects and Volunteer Event Planning
Elena Matthews – Gardening
Amiee Nwabuike – Gardening and Special Events
Cathy Olson – Gardening
Kara Pittman – Children’s Program
Dan Ruehlman – Gardening
Martha Sawall – Gardening
Kimberly Shearer – Special Projects
Andrea Smith – Gardening
Trey Spikes – Gardening
Karen Watters – Special Projects
Warren White – Gardening

Volunteers at Work and Play

Lucy Gardiner, Penelope Booze Foss, and Jean Gross

Wayne Love and Trish MacPherson

Top: Volunteers Lucy Gardiner, Penelope Booze Foss, and Jean Gross are all smiles as they take a break from working in the gardens.

Bottom: Wayne Love and Trish MacPherson are ready to dig in and do what is necessary in the gardens.

Plant Sale Buggy at the JC Raulston Arboretum

Next time you are at the JC Raulston Arboretum, be sure to check out the new Plant Sale Buggy located outside the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center. First opened for business this summer, it’s a popular spot for visitors to find a wide assortment of choice and unusual plants for your garden. Self-service purchases are made by cash or checks only, and it is open rain or shine during regular Arboretum operating hours. New plants are added weekly, so visit often.

Plant Sale Buggy