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Arboretum’s Annual Garden Party, Rare Plant Auction Set for May 5​​​​​​

Front gate of JC Raulston Arboretum

With spring in full bloom on the first Sunday in May, the JC Raulston Arboretum Garden Party and Rare Plant Auction returns to NC State University. Rain or shine, white tent festivities will be held from 2:30 to 6 p.m. May 5 the arboretum’s Great Lawn.

Launched over 25 years ago, the annual Garden Party and Rare Plant Auction features food treats, local craft beer, wine, live entertainment, plus silent and live auctions. Rare and collectible plants will be picked up by the highest bidders, and a variety of exceptional flowering perennials, flowering shrubs and larger trees will be available. Other items on the block include unique travel opportunities, dining experiences and garden ornaments.

‘Something for Everyone’

Flowering plants
Photo courtesy of Robert B. Butler

“The Garden Party is such a fun event and the best time of year to get together with people in one of the prettiest settings in North Carolina,” said Arboretum Director Mark Weathington. “The live and silent auctions have something for everyone.”

“We often do quite a few succulents which are very popular for people in offices, condominiums, apartments, and smaller spaces. We’ll have some tropical type plants, indoor plants to put on your patio and bring inside during the winter. There will be garden art, pieces that help bring the outdoors inside if you feel like you don’t have a green thumb.

“For outdoor landscapes, ticket-holders will find pretty good size trees, flowering shrubs, and herbaceous flowering perennials for gardens. So, it really doesn’t matter whether you have sun or shade, a lot of space or a little space, we will have plants that fit into any location – something for everyone, Weathington added.

A Chance to Connect with the Natural World

The silent auction involves mobile bidding, with stations will be set up to help bidders with the phone app. “This allows people to have fun at the party, hang out with friends, meet new ones, and to keep up with the fun of the changing status of their bids,” Weathington said. “The live auction is reserved for the rarest of the rare with lots of excitement and suspense.”

garden entrance
Photo courtesy of Robert B. Butler

As always, the auction includes a good number of choice and unusual Japanese maples, and there will also be unusual and cutting-edge things like hostas and hellebores, and just released hydrangeas. Another item we’re excited about is the introduction of a new redbud, and it’s called the Flame Thrower. Not publicly available yet, we will auction one at our sale. The Flame Thrower is a complete breakthrough with brilliant gold foliage that darkens to deep burgundy repeatedly over the season.

“Life’s just too short for boring plants,” Weathington said. “We all need to spend more time, especially with our children, families and friends, reconnecting with the natural world.

Don’t Miss Out

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Proceeds from Garden Party and Rare Plant Auction will benefit daily operations of the JC Raulston Arboretum. Fund-raising efforts operate under the auspices of the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit (tax ID 56-6049304).