Tour the Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Looking for some garden inspiration, or maybe just an excuse to get outside this weekend?

Juniper Level Botanic Garden, a $7.5 million gift to N.C. State University, will be open Thursday, May 14, through Sunday, May 17, for public viewing and plant purchases. The garden will also be open May 21-24. Admission is free, and reservations are not required.

“There’s so much to see by visiting the garden every season of the year,” said Tony Avent, founder and benefactor. “For each season, we schedule two open nursery and garden weekends. Our spring open house is delayed by two weeks this year to allow extra time to prepare for social distancing in the nursery.”

On Thursdays and Fridays, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., visitors will have the opportunity to walk the gardens and pick up pre-ordered plants from Plant Delights Nursery. Pickup orders should be placed 24-48 hours in advance. Greenhouses are closed on Thursdays and Fridays. On Saturdays, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sundays, from 1 until 5 p.m., visitors can walk the gardens and shop for plant selections in the nursery greenhouses. For proper social distancing, staff will limit the number of people allowed in the greenhouses at one time and will add another checkout area.

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. Over the past 25 years, Juniper Level Botanic Garden has amassed one of the world’s most diverse plant collections.

“Currently, we have just over 27,000 different kinds of plants,” said Avent. “That makes our botanic garden one of the top five collections in the United States.”

Horticulturist Tony Avent is the founder and benefactor of the Juniper Level Botanic Garden.

Avent, who also owns Plant Delights Nursery, has participated in 13 foreign and 60 domestic plant expeditions, beginning in the mid-1990s.

“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,” he said.

“We have 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.”

Raulston Arboretum currently has about 7,000 different plants, according to Avent, and Juniper Level has roughly 27,000 different plants. Nursery sales currently provide operational funding for Juniper Level. Eventually, Avent hopes the garden will be fully funded by an endowment set up through the university.

“When the endowment for the garden is fully funded, that will allow us to open full-time as a public garden and a sister to Raulston Arboretum,” he said.

The garden, located at 9241 Sauls Road in Raleigh, will also be open to the public on the following dates this year:

  • Fri.-Sun., July 10-12
  • Fri.-Sun., July 17-19
  • Fri.-Sun., Sept. 18-20
  • Fri.-Sun., Sept. 25-27

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