The April 28 Gala in the Garden, the annual garden party and fund-raiser at JC Raulston Arboretum, came with cool temperatures and April showers, yet it was as magical and beautiful as ever. This year’s theme was “An Asian Reflection,” as guests were transported to the Orient via garden pathways festooned with colorful globe lanterns.
From the McSwain Education Center, visitors began their journey at the arboretum’s Asian Valley, moving among bonsai, bamboo and Japanese maple trees and the Zen contemplation area of the Japanese Gardens and past the rare plants in the elegantly decorated Lath House. Along the way they could enjoy collections of more than 700 plants, many newly arrived from Asia. Then at the main party area, they were greeted by a startling multi-colored visage: the nine-foot head of an Asian Dragon, from which his body and tail flowed as if in and out of the ground. It was a bamboo sculpture created by horticultural science students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ landscape design studio, taught by Prof. Will Hooker.
The dragon was the centerpiece among brightly adorned tables, where guests enjoyed gourmet food and drinks, before browsing through silent auction items and eclectic plants for sale in tents encircling the area. The gala also featured music and entertainment representing Asian cultural groups.
Sally Linton served as the 2013 event chair, and Sandie and Mike Worthington were this year’s honorary co-chairs.
CALS Dean Richard Linton hosted the evening gala finale program, which included a Taiko Drum performance, coordinated by Yoko and Rocky Iwashima; a demonstration of taekwondo skills by Master K.S. Lee’s Tae Kwon Do; and Tomomi Thorbjornson playing the Koto, a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument.
Dr. Ted Bilderback, JCRA director, also participated in the evening program.
Proceeds from the silent auction, pre-gala plant sale and sponsorships came to about $80,000. These funds will support the JCRA’s operational expenses, on-going research of new landscape plants, plant collection maintenance and educational programs.
The JCRA at N.C. State University is a nationally acclaimed garden with the most diverse collection of cold-hardy temperate zone plants in the Southeastern United States. As part of the CALS Department of Horticultural Science, the arboretum is a working research and teaching garden that focuses on the evaluation, selection and display of plant material gathered from around the world. It is named in honor of the late Dr. J.C. Raulston, who founded the arb in 1976.—Terri Leith
More scenes from the 2013 Gala in the Garden (Becky Kirkland photos):