One of America's most spectacular gardens—a secret among some locals but a sanctuary to plant lovers around the world—is open to the public just eight weekends per year in Raleigh, N.C.

Located 12 miles south of downtown Raleigh, Juniper Level Botanic Garden is a 28-acre campus showcasing more than 27,000 different kinds of native perennials, exotic plants, rare delights and unusual specimens of trees and shrubs not found many (or any) other places on earth. This "Eden of rare plants" draws gardeners, researchers and fans of beautiful plants from across the globe each year for select open house dates. In 2022, those dates are:

  • Fri.-Sun., Feb. 25-27
  • Fri.-Sun., March 4-6

Note: During the above weekends, Panther Branch School—a Rosenwald school for African American children built in 1926—will also be open to the public after a recent restoration has been completed. This school is on the National Register of Historic Places and one of just 60 remaining of its kind in existence. 

  • Fri.-Sun., Apr. 29-May 1
  • Fri.-Sun., May 6-8
  • Fri.-Sun., July 15-17
  • Fri.-Sun., July 22-24
  • Fri.-Sun., Sept. 16-18
  • Fri.-Sun., Sept. 23-25

The gardens are open, with free admission, from 8am-5pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 1-5pm on Sundays. Reservations are not required.

Green garden with paved walkway and 8-foot fountain pouring down

Established in 1988, the not-for-profit garden is owned by Tony Avent, a Raleigh native and North Carolina State University graduate who originally purchased 2.2 acres of abandoned tobacco fields 20 minutes outside of Raleigh in order to begin building a garden that would allow for experimentation and preservation of plants.

Avent, an award-winning author and lecturer and considered one of the most prominent figures in American horticulture, has amassed one of the world's most diverse plant collections in part thanks to his expeditions—he's traveled to 12 other countries and taken more than 80 domestic trips in order to study and preserve thousands of species.

 

Now more than 30 years in the making—and many, many expansions later—Juniper Level Botanic Garden stretches across 28 acres of land, made up of more than 30 greenhouses, display gardens, fountains, creeks, patios, rock gardens and fields where plants are trialed.

Juniper Level Botanic Garden is funded by proceeds from Avent's adjacent property—Plant Delights Nursery—which grows and ships more than 100,000 plants per year, making it one of the country's largest online retail outlets for rare, unusual and exotic perennials. This property is also open during the open house hours, and visitors can make purchases on site.

 

Visiting tips and FAQs

  • Visiting the gardens during open house hours is free of charge, with free parking
  • Social distancing and face coverings are required
  • Average visitors may spend between 45 minutes and two hours on site, including time for shopping
  • Good walking shoes are recommended
  • Visitors may gently touch, feel and smell the plants (but do not take cuttings or seeds)
  • Photography is welcome, but please do not encroach on plants, trees or mulch areas
  • Pets are not allowed
  • The property is located at 9241 Sauls Rd., Raleigh 27603
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Goes well with a trip to:

  • JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University: A free-to-visit, 10-acre arboretum that is nationally recognized as one of the premier collections of trees and shrubs with more than 6,000 types of plants on hand
  • State Farmers Market, Raleigh: 75 acres of indoor and outdoor specialty shops, restaurants and garden center with fresh produce, meats and gift shop items from across the state
  • Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden: A landmark at the center of the Raleigh Little Theatre campus, more than 60 varieties of roses bloom each year at this hidden gem
  • North Carolina Museum of Art: Boasts more than a dozen galleries of art from all over the world, plus a 164-acre park that features art installations, walking paths and an impressive amphitheater for summertime music and movies
  • WRAL Azalea Gardens: Opened in 1959, these gardens are packed with thousands of colorful azaleas, perennials, hydrangeas and more in the heart of Raleigh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Photos courtesy of Juniper Level Botanic Garden

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