JC Raulston Arboretum

Before we visited Plant Delights, we stopped by the JC Arboretum. This incredible 10-acre display garden features one of the most diverse collections of plants in the southeast. It was built and maintained by North Carolina State University students, faculty, volunteers and staff. The Arboretum is named in honor of its late director and founder, J. C. Raulston, Ph.D., who founded it in 1976.

The gardens were busy (it was Mother's Day) and there were way too many children running around. Despite that, it was a great start to our vacation. The gardens are composed of various rooms and areas including a large perennial border, rose garden, butterfly garden, xeric garden, Japanese garden, rooftop garden and that is just a sampling.

This was just a small section of the Perennial Border.

Digitalis (Foxglove) with Asiatic lilies in the background

Cotinus coggyria "Golden Spirit' Smokebush
I loved this tree - Catalpa bignonioides 'Aurea'. This was such a beautiful combination.
Another plant we feel in love with was Abutilon megapotamicum 'Little Imp'
(Flowering Maple). I've grown them in pots before but had never seen such large plants grown in the ground. I got one of these at Plant Delights!
The Butterfly Garden

There were incredibly aged crape mrytles all over the gardens. This was was located in the Japanese Garden.

Pineapple Guava (Acca sellowiana 'NCSU Hardy') - I want this!
Bear's Breeches (Acanthus 'Summer Beauty')

Acer rubrum 'Snow Fire' - Isn't this beautiful?
If you are in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, don't miss this awesome free attraction!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Love your photos, Phillip. That tree with the red and white blooms is gorgeous. Wonder what it is?

  2. OOooooo that last maple is delicious. Is the first unknown tree a catalpa?? The heart shaped leaves remind me of one. The plant with the red and white blooms is striking. I can see why you want one. I have had one of those flowering maples for three years. I have to bring it inside during winter. It winters over well but it isn't near this big. Can't wait to see more about your trip

  3. Lynn, I'm trying to find the name of it. I'll let you know.

    Lisa, I think you are right. I located a golden catalpa on their website and the map indicates it is in the area I remember. Thanks!

  4. Beautiful photos, and that butterfly garden is lovely! It's giving me some landscaping ideas. The large flowering shrub you're trying to identify looks like a pineapple guava. They finished up blooming here a month ago and are back to looking like regular shrubs; but they're stunning when in bloom.

  5. Amy, thank you so much! You are right. I located it on their website.

  6. I love the flowering maple. I have a bears breeches and didn't realize how large it will get. Mine's about 3 yrs old and still little. The crepe myrtles in Charleston along some of the main streets are just huge. They must several hundred years old. Thanks for the pictures. Been a nice trip.

  7. The Raulston is worth travelling to NC all my itself. You took beautiful photos. And Plant Delights, too. sigh. Great post.

  8. Good to know about your blog i have visit and i am very much impressed from your ideas..
    Thank you for post..

  9. Glad you stopped by the Arboretum on your way to Asheville. I haven't been myself yet, sorry to say but plan to soon. Fantastic photos as usual, Phillip.

  10. It looks wonderful! I love the catalpa tree and the smoke bush....More tress to try to squeeze in my not sunny enough garden! gail

  11. I have only been once, but it was like visiting one of the stars of southern horticulture. When I think of crape myrtle bark, the specimens at JC Raulston come to my mind.

  12. These are beautiful photos! I have a pineapple guava but not nearly as many blooms! That one looks beautiful, I must not be fertilizing enough. Jeannine

  13. Gee, I wonder if my Crepe Myrtles will ever have a trunk such as the one you show? Beautiful Gardens which we should drop by and see some time on our way to VA....

  14. Phillip, I love seeing it through your eyes in another season. I saw it in the fall as you know.~~Dee

  15. Wonderful post, Phillip. I wish I knew you BEFORE your visit to the JCRA! Thanks for showcasing the JC Raulston arboretum, and I hope you are following us on facebook!https://www.facebook.com/jcraulstonarboretum?ref=hl



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