RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – Juniper Level Botanic Garden, a $7.5 million gift to North Carolina State University, will open two weekends in September for public viewing and plant purchases. These are the last public visitation weekends until February 2021.
“For each season, we schedule two open garden and nursery weekends,” said Tony Avent, founder, and benefactor. “As with every season, fall is a time the garden transitions dramatically. The summer plants peak and the fall plants start to put on their show. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition.”
Fall visitation weekends are Sept. 18-20 and Sept. 25-27. Visitors can stroll the gardens and shop for fall plantings in the greenhouses of Plant Delights Nursery. Admission is free, and reservations are not required. Hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 8 AM until 5 PM and Sundays 1-5 PM. Nursery sales provide operational funding for Juniper Level Botanic Garden.
“Many people love fall because you still have warm days but cool nights,” said Avent. “People will begin to think about gardening again as the night temperatures dropdown.
“The ornamental grasses are the plants for fall. They’re just incredible as they come up with a beautiful plume and fine textures. You see completely different textures as the garden changes from summer to fall. The elephant ears peak in the September timeframe. And, we’ve known chrysanthemums for years as a staple of the fall garden. Fall is an amazing transition.”
Established in 1988 on a two-acre tract 12-miles south of downtown Raleigh, not-for-profit Juniper Level Botanic Garden has grown into a 28-acre educational, research, and display garden.
Globally known by horticulturalists, botanists, and discerning gardeners, Avent and Juniper Level Botanic Garden have amassed one of the world’s most diverse plant collections over the past 25 years. Avent has participated in 13 foreign and 60 domestic plant expeditions.
“Currently, we have just over 27,000 different kinds of plants,” explained Avent. “That makes our botanic garden one of the top five collections in the United States.
“I began to travel in the mid-90s. We knew the climate was changing and wanted to preserve plants. We wanted to get them where people could study them, propagate them, and share them. Many of the plants we found on our trips are now extinct in the wild, and we’re the only place they exist. The more the climate changes, the more paramount it becomes to preserve these plants for human benefit.
“We’ve always had a close connection with JC Raulston Arboretum and North Carolina State University. Our missions are identical. To collect, study, propagate and share plants. The Arboretum’s primary focus is woody plants, and Juniper Level’s focus is primarily perennial plants. The combined collections have the capacity to be the center of the ornamental universe.
“It’s also essential for human society to share plants; it’s critical that we not allow plants to go extinct. The rarer a plant is, the more it should be shared. We believe in getting plants where they will thrive and become abundant. Every plant has a place, and every plant has a purpose.
“We set up an endowment through the university [NC State University]. When fully funded, the Juniper Level Botanic Garden endowment will allow us to open full-time as a public garden and a sister to JC Raulston Arboretum.”