A visit to the J.C. Raulston Arboretum

On Saturday, I decided to get out of the house for a little while and visit the J. C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC. I've been there a few times now, but not for several months. This past winter has been harder than most, and it was interesting to see what made it through the nasty weather and what was damaged by the cold.

Camellia japonica 'Professor Sargent'. When educators pull rank, the result can be a bit bloody.

A beautiful planting of daffodils under Cornus mas, backed by blue sky. So very Spring!
The spiny foliage of Osmanthus 'Jim Porter' was untouched by Winter's trials. I have a growing interest in this genus and will be adding this one, along with many others, to my future garden.
Why does no one talk about the attractive white lenticels on the bark of Stachyurus praecox?

The stiff, hanging racemes still have a ways to go before the flowers open.

I've been reading about Hakea microcarpa lately, but after seeing one in person I realized how little justice descriptions really do it! The leaves are indeed like needles, sharp ones! This is a feature I intend to utilize to full effect against the deer at my parents' house. It also has a lovely texture and contrast between the green leaves and cinnamon-colored stems. Too bad I missed seeing the vanilla-scented, white flowers.

Pittosporum tobira 'Tall 'N Tough', another plant I had read about recently, was surprisingly beautiful. I wasn't sure I would like a plain green Japanese pittosporum after seeing some of the fantastic variegated forms, but this was a very high-quality, glossy, deep blue-green. 

This specimen of 'Tall 'N Tough' was at least 8 feet tall. I love the form and the shape of the leaves. The bluish shine of the leaves stopped me in my tracks, though it may have looked more impressive because so much of the Raleigh area still has it's winter look. Dead and brown isn't my favorite color scheme. I can't wait to return to The Evergreen State!

This clump of Aspidistra elatior 'Asahi' was the only one I saw without burnt tips. On all others the white tips had turned brown from the cold. I credit this ones appearance to the overhead protection of the dense mahonia and other evergreens growing overhead. Also a testament to the ability of Aspidistras to grow in super-dense shade!

Araucaria angustifolia has a lighter, bluer coloration and a slightly softer appearance than the more familiar monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana

The genus name of this fascinating plant may send shudders down the spines of gardeners in the south, but Smilax nana is a tiny and architecturally fascinating plant. It is roughly 6 inches tall and appears to spread rather slowly, forming a clump rather than a rampant, skin-shredding patch of brambles.

Isn't that pattern amazing? Actually, if you cross your eyes it looks kind of like a bit of crumpled chicken wire, so I guess it would be pretty easy to have one of these in your own garden. 

Rhodoleia 'Takeshitasei' has thicker, darker green leaves than Rhodoleia henryi. A quick internet search brought up 7 results. It must be a very new cultivar or hybrid. I'll be keeping an eye out for this one, though it may be a few years.

This bamboo dragon looks a little disoriented after being moved from the big lawn to it's new home in the Asian garden. Let's hope it doesn't accidentally light someone on fire!

Pittosporum tobira 'Kansai Sunburst' took a little damage from the two 7-9 F episodes this winter, but overall doesn't look too bad. A specimen growing in shade at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens has an almost imperceptible amount of browning. This seems to be one of the toughest variegated Japanese pittosporums available.

Even though I remembered it after reading the label, I thought at first that this was a crepe myrtle. However, this fantastic, silver-white bark belongs to Cornus wilsoniana

In fall the bark has more of the darker grey coloration before it exfoliates to display this wintry white.

The final find of this foray was a fabulously full, floriferous, and fragrant (sorry for all the F-words) cultivar of Daphne odora called 'Zuiko Nishiki'. This is by far the densest specimen of Daphne odora that I have ever seen. It is growing in a slightly shaded area of the scree garden (more shade in the summer), perhaps to provide better drainage during the summer rains. 

The scent was a little sharper, more lemony, than other winter daphnes I have smelled. I hope my parents are ok with these in their garden, because they're going to get at least one! Luckily this one seems to have hit the market already, unlike that Rhodoleia. 
I confess to having several hundred pictures of the J.C. Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Gardens locked away on my hard drive waiting to be posted to some form of social media. I took so many pictures that editing and renaming them all became a monumental task and they just haven't made it to my Facebook albums or Pinterest account yet. I should probably have an account on something like Shutterfly or Photobucket, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Now that I have a blog, I plan to share some of the highlights of both gardens...one of these days.


  1. Thank you for this visit, I hope someday to be there in person but this is certainly the next best thing. That photo of the Hakea microcarpa is fabulous, thank you. Cistus has them and I've been toying with the purchase but just haven't committed yet. (they have Osmanthus 'Jim Porter' too, btw...)

  2. April is probably one of the best months to visit the Raleigh area, if you can make it then. There is lots happening plant-wise but it hasn't gotten hot yet. Try to time it during one of Plant Delight's open houses so you can see Juniper Level Botanic Gardens, too!

    I had a feeling you would zoom in on the Hakea. Just a hunch, you know. I read through the entire Cistus online catalog a few weeks ago, and finished just as it was updated for 2014! So of course I had to read through it again to see what was new!


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