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The Arboretum encompasses seven acres of gardens and plantings dedicated to demonstrating the best plant species for southeastern North Carolina landscapes, proper horticultural technique, aesthetic design, environmental stewardship, and research. It is a dynamic place, constantly changing to meet the educational needs of residents and green industry professionals, and to provide cutting edge leadership in plant selection and use for this region.
To learn about what is currently in bloom and other exciting things going on at the Arboretum, visit the Arboretum Highlights. Among our changing displays and plant trials are several permanent feature gardens you will not want to miss during your visit.
The Gathering Garden
Designed as a space to serve as a starting point or gathering area for groups or parties, this recently completed garden features palms and other hardy plants that create a lush, tropical feel. Backbone plants include 8’ to 12’ tall Palmettos (Sabal palmetto), shrubby palms such as Dwarf and Scrub Palmettos (Sabal minor and Serenoa repens), Needle Palms (Rhapidophyllum hystrix), Sago Palms (Cycas species) and ‘Color Guard’ Yuccas (Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’). Pindo Palm (Butia capitata), Mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis), and a tree form Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) are planted as specimens. Lush perennials and vibrant annuals fill this garden with color and fragrance throughout summer and fall.
Japanese Garden
The red Tori gateway welcomes you into the Japanese Garden, developed in the early 90’s thanks to a $20,000 grant from Takeda Chemicals, formerly located in Wilmington. This garden utilizes stone, water and plants to create a peaceful atmosphere that reflects the tranquility and beauty of nature. Pools are located on both ends of the garden, connected by a stone lined stream. The authentic Japanese Tea House, nestled in the garden by the top pool, was constructed entirely by volunteers. Many of the plants in the garden are native to Asia and emphasis is on foliage, texture and form rather than flowers. 

Herb Garden
The most basic definition of an herb is simply a plant that is useful to people. The herbs in this garden represent plants grown for culinary purposes, dye plants, fibers, traditional and modern medicinal purposes, and for fragrances and potpourris. Walk around the rustic stone paths of the herb garden to discover plants like thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, and chives. Need a break? Rest a few moments in the seated arbor, which is completely enveloped by Confederate Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), a vigorous evergreen vine that sweetly perfumes the entire area in mid summer.
Water Garden                                                                                           
Many varieties of hardy and tropical Water Lilies (Nymphaea species), Lotus (Nelumbo hybrids) and other aquatic plants adorn this garden, which is one of the largest water gardens in North Carolina. Two features accentuate the water garden, one being the island with its specimen ‘Near East’ Crape Myrtle, a tender variety with a somewhat weeping habit and beautiful soft pink blossoms, and the sea serpent, a copper sculpture made by local artist, Dumay Gorham. Do not miss this garden in early or mid-summer, when the lilies are at peak bloom.
Children’s Garden
Developed as a special place to encourage preschool and elementary age children to explore the wonders of nature, everything in the Children’s Garden is built on a kid-sized scale. Plants with colorful flowers, interesting textures and pleasing fragrances are planted throughout this garden to engage the senses of those whose green thumbs are not yet fully developed. Inside the white picket fence adjacent to the cottage is a child size potager garden, featuring vegetables, herbs and annual flowers. Release your inner child and explore the garden with your children or grandchildren!
Perennial Border
Planted with many different types of perennials that provide color and interest throughout the entire growing season, the Perennial Border serves as the perfect background for the many weddings and events that are held in this area. A sweeping lawn of ‘Crowne’ Zoysiagrass accentuates the border, as does the stone pergola, officially known as a temple, and a wide spreading Chinese Wingnut tree (Pterocarya stenoptera). Visit this border often to observe which perennials thrive in our area and when they bloom.