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— Central North Carolina has a wide variety of gardens open to the public. Whether you’re planning a date, looking to take the kids, or looking for inspiration for your personal garden, there’s something for everyone.

1. Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham

These gardens are the most popular in the region due to their diversity and beauty. You could go to the park several times a season and always find something new. These 55 acres of gardens in the heart of Durham are free to the public and open from 8 am to dusk every day of the year.

Parking is $2 per person and the lots can get busy in the spring on weekends, so it’s best to get there early in the morning.

Customers can bring their dogs before 10:00 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m. each day. Dogs must be kept on a non-retractable leash 6 feet long or less.

2. JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh

Although this garden near the North Carolina State University campus is much smaller than Duke Gardens, it is just as impressive. Named after famed North Carolina state horticulturist JC Raulston, the gardens aim to diversify North Carolina’s wildlife.

The arboretum is a great place to picnic or host an event. Visitors can also request customized tours or field trips to learn more about North Carolina plant life.

3. Juniper Level Botanical Gardens in Wake County

These Southern Wake County gardens, although private, are open to the public free of charge. Customers must make an appointment in advance if visiting on a weekday, but can come without an appointment on weekends.

This 22-acre garden is known for its rare species of plants, many of which are found only in the Juniper Level Botanical Gardens.

This place makes a profit from its plant nursery, where staff members help advise home gardeners on the best native North Carolina plants that would work best for your garden.

The unique gardens have beautiful miniature waterfalls and caves, as well as several picnic spots.

Juniper Level Botanical Gardens

4. North Carolina Botanical Garden at Chapel Hill

These gardens offer beautiful scenery and nature trails to explore.

You can visit the Coker Arboretum, with 5 acres of wildflowers, right on the UNC campus. The North Carolina Botanical Garden also offers three miles of hiking through 88 acres of forest in Chapel Hill.

This is a great place to visit if you want to learn more about native North Carolina plants. The botanical garden is free and open every day except Monday.

5. Montrose Gardens in Hillsborough

These 61 acre gardens are truly a gem in Orange County. The gardens are on the historic property of Governor William Alexander Graham and his wife.

There are several 19th century buildings to see with quirky gardens and trees.

The gardens only offer visits by appointment from September to May, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 10 am. Tours are $20 per person.

Montrose Gardens are known to be spectacular all winter long, so be sure to visit once spring is over.

6. Raleigh Rose Garden

This garden, in full bloom in May, is a perfect place to spend Mother’s Day.

The small garden in the heart of downtown Raleigh offers a variety of roses that stay in bloom from May until the first fall frosts in October or November.

Plan your trip to also catch a live outdoor performance from the Raleigh Little Theater.

7. MLK Memorial Gardens in Raleigh

Although small, this garden is a great place to hold a picnic or event.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Photo taken on April 26, 2022.

The space honors the civil rights legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.. The garden features a life-size statue of MLK, as well as a water monument with the names of dozens of local civil rights leaders.

8. WRAL Azalea Gardens

In the heart of downtown Raleigh is the beautiful WRAL Azalea Gardens. Here you can find peace and quiet whatever the time of year, but the gardens are in full bloom in mid-April.

Bright garden colors are guaranteed to brighten your day.

The gardens offer many paved routes and are wheelchair friendly. They are open daily from dawn to dusk.

About Charles Holmes

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