Last spring, in a season when we were learning new rhythms of life, many of us found comfort in the natural world. For Jennifer Brannon, creative director at Green Bee
Last spring, in a season when we were learning new rhythms of life, many of us found comfort in the natural world. For Jennifer Brannon, creative director at Green Bee Floral Designs in Winston-Salem, that meant visiting her backyard for fresh flowers. Using blooms from her own property, a friend’s yard, and a local farm, she created arrangements inspired by our favorite North Carolina gardens.
The Biltmore Blooms event kicks off in April with a showstopper in the Walled Garden: thousands of tulips. The flowers — thought to be a nod to the Vanderbilts’ Dutch heritage — have been a springtime tradition since at least 1922. Each November, Biltmore’s horticulture team plants around 96,000 bulbs estate-wide that transform into resplendent blooms throughout April. The tulips range from deep purple to fiery orange to buttery yellow, creating a magnificent rainbow — one close enough for guests to see each layered detail.
At the heart of Duke University, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens comprise four distinct areas on 55 acres. In the Historic Gardens and the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, you can discover a butterfly refuge and a haven for rare North Carolina plants. Each spring, a cherry blossom “snowfall” covers Duke Gardens’ paths with delicate pink petals — nature’s ethereal welcome to longer, brighter days. After exploring the gardens’ extensive grounds, have lunch at the on-site Terrace Café in the Bartter Family Terrace House, or sit back on one of the many benches and enjoy the freshness of the season, flourishing before your very eyes.
Currently closed due to Covid-19.
Featuring the world’s largest bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth I and a sweeping view of Roanoke Sound, Manteo’s Elizabethan Gardens boast 16th-century-style architecture and botanical varieties that would have grown during the time of the Lost Colony’s settlement. Stroll through the Queen’s Rose Garden, with its brick beds filled with climbing, thorny flowers; one variety, the grandiflora rose, arrived from Windsor Castle in 1976, a gift from Queen Elizabeth II. At the end of the President’s Walk, you’ll find the statue of Queen Elizabeth I holding a bouquet of roses in her arms and surrounded by azaleas, welcoming her beloved spring blooms and beckoning visitors from all around.
A living legacy of the late Mary Reynolds Babcock — daughter of tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds — this Winston-Salem gem has been restored to its original glory, down to its 44 weeping cherry trees. Babcock, who was sometimes seen sporting flower tiaras and walking through the gardens barefoot in the early morning, poured her energy into making the Reynolda estate a place where her prized blooms would thrive. Originally planned by landscape architect Louis Miller in 1913, the gardens still showcase some of Babcock’s favorite flowers: early and modern varieties of roses, azaleas, and peonies. In the spring, those luscious blooms surround Reynolda’s glass conservatory, paying homage to the woman who dedicated her life to botanical discovery.
These gardens include the National Native Azalea Collection, representing nearly every native species along with natural hybrids.
Daniel Stowe boasts an orchid conservatory and seven gardens, including Lost Hollow, which has an amphitheater, pond, and playground.
Right outside of Uptown, these gardens feature a lush camellia hedge and are the living laboratory of world-renowned garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence.
This garden not only provides visual splendor, but it also doubles as a testing ground for planting practices that are most suitable for the Outer Banks’ microclimates.
At our state’s first capitol, 16 acres of gardens contain traditional arrangements of marigolds and celosia alongside clipped hedges and intricately designed paths.
Behind the WRAL news station, a 1.5-acre azalea garden brings tranquility and natural beauty to the heart of our capital city.
Airlie’s 67 acres feature a sculpture collection as well as a pollinator garden designed to attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
This Victorian-style garden includes herbs that were commonly used for a variety of purposes — including medicine and cooking — during the 1800s.
— Anna Grace Thrailkill and Zach Skillings