Friends of the JC Raulston Arboretum Newsletter

Spring 2015 – Vol. 18, No. 1

Director's Letter

Rosa 'Radprov' (Orchid Romance™)

Greetings from the JCRA

By Mark Weathington, Director

It is with great pleasure that I pen my first letter as director of the JC Raulston Arboretum. While the plants were what first drew me to the JCRA, it was always the significant impact of the Arboretum that really spoke to me. The JCRA has long been a driving force for improving the Green Industry, and it has been estimated that plants introduced to the industry by the JCRA have contributed $10.5 million per year to the ornamental nursery industry. As I look at the catalogs that fill my mailbox at this time of year, I think J. C. would be pleased that his vision to "diversify the American landscape" has indeed become a reality.

The gardens and collections continue to grow and evolve. As I write this, we are in the middle of the construction of the new Finley-Nottingham Rose Garden. Bluestone paths, gothic arched trellises, and columnar evergreens give plenty of year-round structure while the roses and companion perennials will provide color. There are numerous other naming and memorial opportunities throughout the Arboretum. In particular, a planned pavilion to provide covered space for outdoor programs, music in the garden, and, of course, weddings will provide a link connecting the strong elements of the Perennial Border to the new Rose Garden.

As the Arboretum moves into its 4th decade, we as a staff are excited about the opportunities to continue to provide relevant impact to the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. Our burgeoning Children's Program reached over 1,600 children in 2014 alone. Summer camps give us an opportunity to connect children to the natural world around them in a deep and meaningful way. This year, we hope to have a dedicated intern to assist with developing programming for our children's programs. If you are interested in helping sponsor an education intern, please let us know.

Our education programming changes and growth certainly aren't restricted to children and families; adult programs have been evolving as well. We've increased our hands-on workshops and introductory gardening classes to reach new gardeners and recent transplants to the Research Triangle. Classes teaching pruning techniques and soil building are helping to ensure Raleigh and the surrounding area is a community of gardeners. We haven't forgotten about the plant nuts who have been our strongest supporters since our earliest days. Great programs like An Evening With the Explorers in March will remain the backbone of who we are.

As we move into the next phase of the JCRA's existence, our best-loved events will continue and get even better. In particular Raulston Blooms! is looking more fun than ever before with one of the best plant sales around, a birdhouse competition, activities for kids, vendors, education sessions, and a food truck rodeo. Raulston Blooms! is an especially valuable member benefit with free admission and discounts on plants for members. Members like you are the single most important source of support for the Arboretum. If you have a friend who you think might like to participate in our programs or who is looking to be a better gardener, encourage them to check us out.

Looking back through the JC Raulston Arboretum's history, I am humbled and honored to be entrusted with such an important role. Looking forward I am excited by the prospects of helping a talented staff move this unique institution into the next decades. J. C. Raulston's passion and nonstop efforts achieved his goal of diversifying the American landscape. New challenges face us: people are increasingly disconnected from the natural world, urbanization is laying bare the need for increased and improved green infrastructure, and our built landscapes must become more sustainable. Remaining true to what makes us special while helping to tackle the big issues of our time will ensure that we continue to have a positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of the people of North Carolina and beyond. I can't wait to get started.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Stop and Smell the Roses

By Bryce Lane, Former Interim Director

I am excited to announce a new approach we are taking to promote the JCRA. We are now going to choose a yearly theme that will help set the tone for much of the programming and activities we have at the Arboretum. This will give us a creative way to connect garden projects, events, programs, and education. I am happy to announce the JC Raulston Arboretum theme for 2015 is "Stop and Smell the Roses."

This theme will allow us not only to focus on the large and diverse family of plants, Rosaceae, but also to encourage people to take pause, and spend more time in the garden appreciating all that plants have to offer us. We'll look to communicate the power plants have to enrich our lives, and how important it is to, indeed, stop and smell the roses. You'll have opportunities to be introduced to many species and cultivars that are related to roses, to experience plants with qualities that appeal to all our senses, and to sign up for programs and events that play off this theme.

To this end, we're finishing up the renovation and relocation of the Finley-Nottingham Rose Garden in early 2015. We are very excited about this project and hope it will be a renewed destination for you in the garden. Be sure to check out the progress of the rose garden when you visit. The staff has been working hard to prepare the new garden area. It is sure to be a lovely, tranquil setting for all to enjoy.


Lindera salicifolia

The JCRA in Taxonomic News

By Mark Weathington, Director

One of the premiere publications dealing with the taxonomy of ornamental plants is Hanburyana published by the Royal Horticultural Society in Britain ( I was pleased to note that a recent edition (volume 7, July 2013) draws on the collections of the JC Raulston Arboretum for two of their taxonomic and descriptive articles.

Taxonomist Julian Shaw has finally unraveled the nomenclatural mess surrounding our narrow-leafed spicebushes (currently listed at the JCRA as Lindera angustifolia and L. salicifolia). When Bleddyn Wynn-Jones of Crûg Farm Plants was here at the Arboretum for a lecture, he collected some propagules of the latter, but was unsure of the validity of the name. When Julian was asked about the proper name, he finally cut through much of the confusion.

Lindera salicifolia is sometimes listed as a variety of L. umbellata in the literature but neither (L. salicifolia nor L. umbellata var. salicifolia) are botanically valid names. John Grimshaw had placed L. angustifolia and L. salicifolia with L. glauca in his monumental New Trees book. The 2008 treatment of Lindera in the Flora of China separates L. angustifolia from L. glauca mainly by the former's glabrous (smooth) branchlets and keeled bud scales. Differences only a taxonomist could love.

Since L. salicifolia is not native to China and instead originates from Korea, it is not included in the 2008 treatment. Through Julian's sleuthing in the old (1939) Flora Sylvatica Koreana, he determined that L. salicifolia was an invalid name and instead separated L. angustifolia into var. angustifolia and var. glabra with the former being the mainland Chinese species, having soft hairs, and the latter growing in western Korea with smooth leaves.

Both of these varieties make handsome large shrubs with narrow deciduous foliage. Small umbels of gold flowers appear in the spring and, while lovely, cannot compete with the gaudier spring floral displays of flowering cherries and forsythia. Handsome narrow foliage is pretty much disease- and insect-free all summer. The flowers are followed by dark blue-black fruits, and the fall color is an astounding blaze of orange. The leaves turn a soft buff color in winter and are retained for most of the season, dropping just before the new leaves emerge. These plants are very tough and will tolerate most conditions once established.

Many thanks to Julian for helping with this taxonomic confusion. We will be checking out our plants to determine their proper names and correcting our labels and records as we verify the identification.

The very next article in the same issue of Hanburyana describes and discusses the history of Syringa oblata var. oblata 'Frank Meyer'. In the first decade of the 1900s, Frank Meyer was collecting plants on behalf of the USDA in China. In a market in Beijing, he found a white flowered form of S. oblata (early lilac) and sent it back to the United States. Father Fiala saw the plant at the former USDA Glenn Dale station. He gave it the name 'Frank Meyer' and separated it from the cultivar 'Alba'. The Hanburyana article gives a botanical description for the specimen in the Asian Valley of the U.S. National Arboretum and notes that the plant is also growing here at the JCRA. No other specimens are noted since this selection is unaccountably rare.

The species is one of the best lilacs for southern gardens since it flowers profusely even with our mild winters and hot summers, unlike the common lilac. It makes a large shrub or it can be trained into a small tree. It flowers in early spring with somewhat loose panicles of fragrant flowers. 'Frank Meyer' is a pure white form with the same fragrance and large, open growth. Pruning after it finishes flowering will help control its size and encourage denser growth. It is less susceptible to powdery mildew than the common lilac, but certainly not completely resistant, so it is best planted in full sun in a spot with good air-flow. We hope to propagate this plant in the near future and distribute it to help conserve it for the future.

Justin Durango and Colby Gupton

England/Chelsea Work Study Scholarship

By Justin Durango and Colby Gupton, 2012 Summer Interns

What an exhilarating sensation it was to board a jet-liner bound for London last spring to participate in the Royal Horticulture Society's Chelsea Flower Show and to visit public gardens. Walking beside me on this horticultural adventure was my friend and previous JC Raulston Arboretum co-intern, Colby Gupton. We were so proud and honored to be the first recipients of travel scholarships from the Department of Horticultural Science's England/Chelsea Work Study Endowment. Both of us worked together and became friends while we were summer interns at the JC Raulston Arboretum in 2012, and neither of us had ever crossed an ocean before.

The awe-inspiring Chelsea Flower Show has been a tradition each spring in London for well over a century. For us, one of the scholarship's perks was the opportunity to construct one of the show's garden entries, "The Cave Pavilion." Meticulously designed and installed gardens become true masterpieces growing among the grandeur of vast floral displays. Off work, we were more than humbled by the gracious welcomes we received from some of the top names in horticulture and landscape design.

The Chelsea Flower Show was a whirlwind and by itself would have made for a full trip, but the travel stipend allowed us to spend some time exploring London and Paris when the show concluded. So we took off our construction worker hats and put on our horticultural hats to embark on a week's worth of learning the metro systems, searching out road signs, visiting gardens, eating local food, meeting loads of wonderful people, taking pictures, drooling over old architecture, while trying to absorb as much as possible.

During our perpetual motion week, we packed in visits to Kew Gardens, Chelsea Physic Garden, RHS Garden Wisley, Gardens of Versailles, Le Jardin des Plantes, along with the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and Sacré-Cœur Basilica. We were awestruck, walking through gardens steeped in such history. We met so many wonderful people who introduced us to the best in food, vistas, history, and horticulture. The scholarship funded trip to London very quickly went from a pleasant surprise to two weeks that we will hold dear in our memories for the rest of our lives. The insights, memories, and friendships we gained have enhanced not only our careers, but also our lives.

The Department of Horticultural Science's England/Chelsea Work Study Endowment provides a travel scholarship to the United Kingdom for the Royal Horticulture Society's Chelsea Flower Show and for visiting other public gardens and nurseries in England. Applicants must be currently enrolled as NC State University undergraduate or graduate level students, have completed a summer internship at the JC Raulston Arboretum, and have a passion for woody ornamentals and/or public horticulture.

Arboretum Update

New Finley-Nottingham Rose Garden installation

Master Plan Update

By Mark Weathington, Director

The revised JCRA Master Plan continues to move forward with exciting new projects. The plan, developed in 2007 and revised and updated in 2013, serves as a blueprint for the continued development and improvement of the Arboretum grounds.

This spring, we plan to see the completion of the new Finley-Nottingham Rose Garden being installed on the south side of the 'Nellie R. Stevens' holly hedge from where the old rose garden was located. This new garden will boast roses (of course) but also companions, hardscaping, and informative signs discussing breeding of ornamental plants through history. This project is funded through a generous gift from the A. E. Finley Foundation, but there are naming opportunities within the garden as well. Interested donors should contact Sonia Murphy at or (919) 513-0637 for more information about this or any other gift opportunities.

This winter, we also began planning two new additions to the garden. We're working on a facelift with a new pedestrian entrance along Beryl Road. We will be tying into the NC State University Gateways project with brick columns, and the entrance will feature a decorative gate. We hope to continue this style along the entire Beryl Road border. Garden friend and designer extraordinaire Chip Calloway has agreed to design this new entrance and a Roberto Burle Marx-inspired garden under the existing live oaks behind the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center. We don't know if any project will change the public face of the Arboretum so much since the building of the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center.

We're equally excited about a nearby garden that we're also currently planning. For the beds between the parking lot and Beryl Road, Richard Hartlage, Richard Hartlage Land Morphology, is designing a new garden featuring ornamental edibles and an outdoor area for educational programs.

Annual Report

Dedication of the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center and Legacy Brick Circle (Bobby Wilder in center)

2014 Was a Very Good Year: The JC Raulston Annual Report

By Anne M. Porter, Former Director of Development

The previous year was a very good year and an exciting time at the JC Raulston Arboretum. There is always something innovative going on in the garden, and the last year proved to be no exception to those initiatives. Below are just a few of the major accomplishments of 2014.

  • $1,527,104 in JC Raulston Arboretum endowments (including the JCRA Endowment for Excellence which reached over and $575,000 in 2014)
  • A $125,000 legacy naming donation was received from the A. E. Finley Foundation in 2014 to support the new Finley-Nottingham Rose Garden
  • $$115,125* in membership support (representing 1,799 members) in 2014
  • $99,055 earned at the 2014 Gala in the Garden—An Asian Reflection
  • $48,073 was earned at Raulston Blooms!
  • $10,000 was given by Patricia and Francis (Chuck) Koppeis to support the Dr. Susan L. Stephenson Endowment for Education at the JC Raulston Arboretum that they created in 2013 with a $25,000 contribution
  • 9,736 hours were given by the dedicated JCRA volunteers in 2014 (That's the equivalent of five full time employees each year!)
  • 6,328 taxa (different types of plants) with 1,131 new accessions and 1,707 plantings in 2014
  • 15,233 plants distributed in 2014 (nearly twice as many as in 2013)
  • Thousands people attended more than 150 JCRA sponsored or cosponsored events in 2014
  • The Linda and Theodore "Ted" Bilderback Endowment for the JC Raulston Arboretum Children's Program was established in 2014

Impressive—and just wait to see the 2015 Annual Report!

There are many people to thank for their continued support. In an effort to conserve monetary and natural resources, the full 2014 annual report is being offered on the JCRA Web site at instead of printed copies.

The JCRA board and staff are proud of all the accomplishments of the last year and extremely grateful to everyone who gave generously 2014. Please take a few moments to visit these pages on the Web site and discover all the many Friends of the Arboretum who continue to advocate for and invest in the JC Raulston Arboretum.

* Updated January 2016

Photograph: The Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center and Legacy Brick Circle was dedicated on July 13, 2014.


Japanese Garden redesign (made possible by the Charles & Ethel Larus Endowment)

Planting the Seeds for Development

By Anne M. Porter, Former Director of Development, and Sonia Murphy, Director of Development

When There's a Will, There's a Way

Yes, when there is a will, there is a way—a way to make sure that your people, places, and passions are honored after your passing. Making a will is really such an easy thing to do. It does not have to be complicated, and it is usually relatively inexpensive. I know, because I updated mine last year after waiting more than ten years. It was actually quite satisfying and really a load off my mind.

Not having a will really hit home with me last summer, as a dear friend passed away very suddenly. He was close to me, and we had many discussions about whom he wanted his estate to benefit. He was equally clear about whom he did not want it to benefit.

My friend was very successful in his career and a very savvy business man, but interestingly, he passed away without a will. Many of his close friends and I puzzled over why such an intelligent person would not make even the most basic of wills. He was not married, he had no children, his parents had both passed away—so guess who inherited his entire estate?

Without going into any of the other sad details of my friend's estate, I urge you to take action on this important and very simple process. Life really is short, and it passes in the blink of an eye. Please prepare for the ones you love and the organizations that you are passionate about, and for the legacy that you wish to leave behind.

Should you wish to leave a legacy gift to the JC Raulston Arboretum in your will, please contact Sonia Murphy at (919) 513-0637 or Or visit for more information.

What Will Be Blooming next at the JCRA

This spring, the most surprising thing you may find popping up at the Arboretum is not a plant, but rather a plan. The JC Raulston Arboretum is taking its next step into making the Master Plan a reality. Thanks to the A. E Finley Foundation's gift, the Finley-Nottingham Rose Garden is already under construction and will be showing off its first flowers at the Gala in the Garden on May 3, 2015. Next, the pedestrian entrance will take shape this year thanks to several other donors. The JC Arboretum needs more champions to make the vision for the Arboretum a reality. To find out more about the Master Plan, contact or call Sonia Murphy at or (919) 513-0637.

Marjorie O'Keeffe's bench dedication

Tribute Benches

A Wise Investment … Your Lasting Legacy!

Honor or remember a loved one or commemorate a special date with a tribute bench located in one of the JCRA gardens or along scenic pathways. Tribute benches provide a place of rest and contemplation for thousands of visitors. Stone and boulder benches are locally handcrafted from a variety of different stone materials, and wooden benches are made from sustainably-harvested teak.

Your tribute bench gift not only provides an additional seat for visitors, but it also supports the care and maintenance of our gardens, plant collections, and programs. Tribute gifts support the JC Raulston Arboretum Endowment for Excellence. This Endowment ensures that the JCRA continues to be a renowned public, research, and teaching garden with a strong and vibrant future.

Along with a 100% tax-deductible contribution receipt from NC State University, your gift includes:

  • An engraved plaque
  • Stone bench maintenance for a period of 25 years
  • Teak (or other quality hardwood) bench maintenance for a period of 10 years
  • A digital archive and photograph of the bench available for public view on JCRA Tribute Tracker (available soon)
  • Recognition on our Donor Honor Roll published in the Annual Report on the JCRA Web site
  • A Tribute Gift Agreement between donor(s) and JCRA for each tribute bench (effective August 2014)

A bench may be permanently endowed for a minimum gift of $25,000, and a formal NC State University Memorandum of Understanding will be arranged and signed.


Member Making News

Buddleia 'Pink Micro Chip' (Lo & Behold®), developed by Denny Werner, won a 2015 Green Thumb Award presented by the Direct Gardening Association, the world's largest nonprofit association of companies that sell gardening products via print catalogs, Web sites, magazines, and professional supporting companies. 'Pink Micro Chip' was honored in the Plants, Bulbs, and Seeds division by the independent panel of garden writers and editors. Selection criteria were based on the plant's uniqueness, technological innovation, ability to solve a gardening problem, and potential appeal to gardeners.

'Pink Micro Chip' dwarf butterfly bush brings the first pink flowering butterfly bush to the popular series made famous by 'Blue Chip'. The tightly packed, petite flowers are reminiscent of Salvia, and flower freely from midsummer to frost. Its compact habit and small size of 18"–24" tall and wide allow it to be used in a full sun landscape in ways butterfly bush traditionally couldn't: colorful mass planting, a low hedge, or in a container garden. True to the series, 'Pink Micro Chip' is sterile and legal for sale in Oregon and Washington. 'Pink Micro Chip' is hardy from USDA Zones 5 to 9.

Charlie Kidder leads kindergarten class on tour

Shhh ... No One Knows We're Here

By Arlene Calhoun, Volunteer and Membership Coordinator

It is tempting to keep this gem of a garden a secret. For me, I take every chance I get to escape to the garden for lunch or just to clear the mental clutter. I find a bench in a quiet spot and think to myself, "Shh, no one knows I'm here." But all it takes is one person to say, "I've lived in Raleigh for 15 years and am visiting for the first time." Then I'm singing from the rooftops, "How do we find people like you?"

Nearly 1,799 members strong, over 200 active volunteers, 13 staff members, 10.5 acres, an education center, and a visitor center. There are 6,328 taxa in the Arboretum's living collection of 40,000+ plants in 10,000+ plantings. A statement if I've ever seen one! We are very proud of the presence we have established both nationally and internationally, but we want the folks in our community to benefit from this beautiful garden that's in their own backyard.

Help us spread the word, sow the seed. There are many ways to introduce folks to the garden. A gift membership is an easy way to force the bloom, so to speak. It is a wonderful way to show someone firsthand the many ways to enjoy the garden, programs, and events. But there are other ways too. From March–October, we offer free guided tours each Sunday at 2:00 pm, or members might invite guests to attend the next Friends of the Arboretum Lecture, Plantsmen's Tour, or Raulston Blooms! All events are very reasonably priced. And of course, remind everyone you know we are open and free to the public every day of the year.

Many of you knew J. C. personally, or at the very least, have watched our progression from a budding trial garden to an internationally recognized one that is beloved by many. We couldn't have come this far without you. Your support is as important now as it's ever been.

Won't you join me in singing from the rooftops? Everyone in our community needs the JC Raulston Arboretum experience. It's just too good to keep it a secret. Don't you agree?

Friends of the Arboretum Lecture

Plantsmen's Tour

Raulston Blooms!


Volunteer Connoisseur Plant distribution

Volunteer Magic

By Arlene Calhoun, Volunteer and Membership Coordinator

Dedication, talent, spunk, spirit, and ownership are only a few of the qualities found in our corps of over 200 active volunteers who are a welcoming group of people who love the garden and the spirit of the JC Raulston Arboretum.

The JCRA is nearly 40 years old and we are very proud to say we have active volunteers that have been here from the beginning. We are grateful to have their knowledge of the garden and their expertise. They have been a big part of our growth and I imagine it wasn't always easy.

From tour guides to gardeners, creative writing to market strategy, there are many ways to use your talents at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Our expanding Children's Program is looking for volunteers who would enjoy working with children and would like to be involved with programs that help children experience the gardens and explore the interaction between people and plants. If you'd like to see a complete list of volunteer opportunities, let me know. I'd be happy to forward a copy to you. Please contact me at or (919) 513-7004.

To our wonderful volunteers, thank you for dedicating nearly 10,000 hours each year. Without doubt, we couldn't do it without you.

Top: Connoisseur Plants are just one of the many ways we thank our volunteers. Join our team and find out more. It's far more than just plants.

Below: Cyndy Cromwell helps mulch the JCRA during Mulching Week.

Cyndy Cromwell delivers mulch during Mulch Week

Volunteer Needs at the JCRA

In the Garden
  • Gardener
  • Plant labeling
  • Seasonal plant labeler
  • Label review
  • Mapping
  • Sowing seed
  • Water gardener
  • Propagation/nursery
  • Construction
Children's Program
  • Arts and crafts
  • Program development
  • Teacher
  • Tour guide
  • Administration
Community Outreach
  • Tour guide
  • Booth attendant
  • Visitor Center
  • Speaker bureau
  • Special events
  • Lecture support
  • Photographer
  • Now Showing photographer
  • Communications
  • Mailings
  • Office support
  • Fund raising
  • Now Showing
  • Data entry
  • Special projects
  • Engraving

Gala in the Garden - Sunday, May 3, 2015 - 3:30 PM-7:00 PM - … at a garden party that will entertain your family, friends, and business associates … while supporting the JC Raulston Arboretum. To register online, please visit For questions, please contact Kathy Field at (919) 513-0264 or