The JC Raulston Arboretum recently celebrated the addition of a one-of-a-kind Japanese Maple to its collection of 265 trees – and this maple comes in the form of a 16-foot-tall shining stainless steel pedestrian gate.
Director and Curator of Collections Mark Weathington, a group of landscape architects, many volunteers, board members and donors have anxiously anticipated the arrival of the arboretum’s new gate and could not be prouder of how the grand entrance turned out.
The iconic maple leaf, long associated with the JC Raulston Arboretum, was selected as a primary design element early in the planning process. After speaking with several metalsmiths, Weathington and a small committee selected nationally celebrated artist Jim Galluci to craft the gate.
Quick to use “we” instead of “I” – and a self-proclaimed garden-nut – Galluci has worked on other major metal sculptures in Raleigh. His amenable demeanor and artistic talents equipped him to take on the task of creatively integrating the committee’s ideas into the predetermined structure of the NC State brick columns and black fencing.
Building the pedestrian gate for the JC Raulston Arboretum was special for Galluci as he knew Dr. J.C. Raulston, for whom the arboretum was named.
“I met J.C. 30 years ago, we had just moved here and … a friend introduced me,” Galluci said. “When he died, it was a very sad moment for North Carolina. What [JC] did throughout the south by bringing plants to the region, it was unprecedented.”
When asked to take on the project, Galluci didn’t hesitate. “I’d love to do this, to pay tribute to someone I knew, respected and admired,” he said.
Four long-time supporters of the arboretum, Jerry and Nina Jackson and Richard and Amelia Lane, generously funded the project.
A volunteer for 26 years, Amelia Lane became more and more involved with the arboretum because she was impressed with the “willingness of arboretum faculty, staff and volunteers to share their horticultural knowledge – all you have to do is ask,” she said. And when the Lanes were asked to help fund the gate, they answered with a resounding yes.
Beyond their gift to the JC Raulston Arboretum, Nina Jackson and Jerry Jackson also contribute hours of service by tending to the garden and participating on the board of directors. Jerry Jackson was invited to join the board when he complained that the arboretum always looked closed and he suggested something be done about it.
“I was told ‘you have so many good ideas you should come sit on our board,’” Jackson said with a smile. He has put those good ideas to work by helping usher the plans for the pedestrian gate into fruition.
In addition to the Jacksons, the Lanes and Galluci, Weathington named three other key specialists who helped with the project: Chris Faulkner, general contractor; Graham Frye, stone mason; and Lynn Swank, NC State University project manager. Swank, Frye, Faulkner, Weathington and Galluci completed the assignment in early November 2016.
Fun for people of all ages and free to the public, the JC Raulston Arboretum is open every day of the year. We invite you to come explore the 10.5 acres at 4415 Beryl Road, learn about plants, become an arboretum member and see what this remarkable new entrance heralds.
This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.