Juniper Level Botanic Garden, a $7.5 million gift to North Carolina State University, will open eight weekends during 2020 for public viewing, plant purchases, and talks with experts.
“Two open garden weekends are scheduled for each season – winter, spring, summer, and fall,” said founder and benefactor Tony Avent. “There’s so much to see by visiting the garden every season of the year. In February, there are many plants in flower for our winter weekends – an incredible amount in bloom.”
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.
Amassing one of the world’s most diverse plant collections and known globally by horticulturalists, botanists, and discerning gardeners, Juniper Level Botanic Garden is an institutional member of the American Public Gardens Association.
Winter visitation weekends are February 21-23 and February 28-March 1. Admission is free, and reservations are not required. Large groups are encouraged to call ahead to reserve bus parking.
With a mission to collect, preserve, propagate, and share the world’s flora, Tony 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.
“My late wife Michelle and I started the garden and agreed that we wanted it preserved. After Michelle passed away, and later, when Anita and I married, we decided we needed to preserve the gardens and that NC State was a perfect choice.
“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. Between this collection and the 27,000 at Juniper Level, the result is one of the largest and top collections in the world of genetics. Combined, these two institutions have the capacity to be the center of the ornamental universe.
“We set up an endowment 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.”
Meanwhile, operational funding for Juniper Level Botanic Garden continues to be provided by Plant Delights Nursery, also founded by the Avents. The nursery grows and ships over 100,000 plants each year and will sell plants during the open garden weekends. As the financial responsibility transitions to the foundation, the nursery will send plants only to members and supporters of Juniper Level Botanic Garden.
Fundraising efforts for Juniper Level Botanic Garden in conjunction with JC Raulston Arboretum, operate under the auspices of The Endowment Fund of NC State University, a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax ID 56-6000756. Donors will receive an official receipt for contributions to the fund.