One of America's most spectacular gardens—a hidden gem among locals and a jaw-dropping sanctuary for 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 2024, those dates are:

  • Fri.-Sun., Feb. 23-25
  • Fri.-Sun., March 1-3
  • Fri.-Sun., May 5-3
  • Fri.-Sun., May 10-12
  • Fri.-Sun., July 12-14
  • Fri.-Sun., July 19-21
  • Fri.-Sun., Sept. 13-15
  • Fri.-Sun., Sept. 20-22

The gardens are open, with free admission, from 9am-5pm. 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. Visitors can make purchases of these plants at the gardens during summer and fall open house events.

 

Visiting tips and FAQs

  • Visiting the gardens during open house hours is free of charge, with free parking.
  • Average visitors may spend between 45 minutes and two hours on site, including time for shopping.
  • Note that between Jan. 1 and May 31, there are no on-site sales of plants (pickups from Plant Delights online orders can be scheduled during your visit, however).
  • 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.
  • For those interested in learning more about gardening and rare plants, Juniper Level has a great blog full of information, as well as a YouTube channel.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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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