Midsummer Eve Parties Benefit JC Raulston Arboretum

By Helen Yoest

A good way to celebrate summer is to have a garden party. An even better way is to have a garden party raising money for NC State University’s JC Raulston Arboretum under the banner of its new Grass Roots Master Plan. Events are set for the evening of June 21, the longest day of the year, for friends to gather friends to host a party — many parties — from the Triangle to the coast and across the state to celebrate the Arboretum.

Dr. JC Raulston imagined and implemented the Arboretum we see today. And his legacy lives on, now under the direction of Dr. Dennis (Denny) Werner.

“We hope to have more than 50 parties throughout the region,” Werner said. “The Summer Solstice Celebration will enable us to draw attention to, and raise money for, the Arboretum.”

The gardens now have a Grass Roots Master Plan — created by Werner — in need of money to implement, causing the formation of the JCRA Community. These voices included input from the Arboretum’s Advisory Board and staff, NCSU Horticulture Department faculty, staff and students, volunteers and members of the JCRA — as well as visitors and Friends of the Arboretum.

Led by Harriet Bellerjeau and Suzanne Edney, the JCRA core team included Jeff Evans, Robert L. Mackintosh and Matt Roberts. Beth Jimenez served as program developer and public relations coordinator. The committee incorporated over 1000 comments from the community and presented a final plan. The results emphasized accessible path systems, garden spaces and enhancing the visitor experience.


Not Too Late To Host A Party

It is not too late to sign up to host a party of your own with no restrictions. Each host will ask their friends for a donation to attend, the amount left up to the host.

Eliza Kraft Olander, Brian McHenry and Bob and Peggy Walters will host a party with an Art in the Garden theme. Work will include images and cards by landscape photographer Peggy Walters, newly commissioned museum-quality work by Thomas Sayer, the natural stone sculpture work of Phil Hathcock and the metal designs of Joel Haas.

Olander’s mother is also an amazing gardener who served as vice president of the Garden Club of America. Olander trades seeds and plants with fellow gardeners, opining that a garden is really just a nursery for another garden.

Bob and Laura Bromhal of Raleigh will host a wine and cheese party in their home. According to Laura, “We are so fortunate the JC Raulston Arboretum is right here in our own back yards. The new master plan will also make it more enjoyable for everyone.”

Ted Sampson and Elizabeth Galecke will host a party with a midsummer’s eve wedding theme. After a moonrise wedding service in Las Vegas on April 20, they will host their wedding reception in Galecke’s studio garden and ask guests for a donation to the Arboretum in lieu of wedding gifts. “I love the serenity of the JC Raulston Arboretum,” said Galecke, a photographer. “It is always quiet and offers such diverse and beautiful backgrounds for my portraits. I appreciate so much having such a wonderful place in Raleigh.”

Jill Kucera, who will help with Galecke and Sampson’s celebration, was a long-time friend of Raulston and attributes much of her success to his mentoring. She remembers Raulston as “one of my first clients at Catering Works. He held so many events at his home, we had a key to his house. He was one of the kindest men I have ever met. His passion was an inspiration to me as a young businesswoman — to understand when you love what you do, it pays off.” (Proceeds from this evening’s festivities will go to the Arboretum — half will go to the JC Raulston Arboretum Endowment for Excellence and half will go to implementing the Arboretum’s new master plan.)

If you would like to host a party and celebrate this year’s midsummer’s eve, call Barbara Kennedy at 919-513-7004 or e-mail barbara_kennedy@ncsu.edu. If you would like to attend a party, but don’t know anyone hosting one, please contact Helen Yoest at helen@gardensgardens.com — we have some party options for you. To make a financial contribution, your tax-deductible donations can be made to the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University, Campus Box 7522, Raleigh, NC 27695-7522.


Stewards of the Land:

Urquharts Create Garden Oasis in Raleigh

By Helen Yoest

The gravel path entering Richard and Barbara Urquhart’s property beckons forward; yet the side paths are too tempting causing visitors to slow their pace for a peek.

Journey farther and you realize you’re not entering a mere garden, but rather an oasis — the temperature actually lowers with each step. Soon the green moss lawns and large rock outcroppings become visible; calmness washes over you. You spy birds in flight, chirping as if to welcome visitors to their gardens.

This is their safe haven. The Urquharts purchased this land 40 years ago, well aware of the uniqueness of the property. They felt they had a responsibility to become stewards of the land.

Dick and Barbara express deserving pride in the property: “We feed our birds and other wildlife daily, and are richly rewarded by the constant activity. It’s been a great joy in providing a welcoming and safe habitat for a variety of wildlife,” says Dick.

Many winding paths around the 2-acre parcel facilitate a gentle stroll, allowing the opportunity to admire the flora and fauna that abound. In the back gardens, you can hear the soothing sound of water running from each of the three inventive water features.

At the apex, you can see a 60-foot drop in elevation to Crabtree Creek, giving way to an immediate feeling of standing on a mountain top. According to Dick, “You’d never know this place could be right here in Raleigh.”

Admiring the native plants and the unique planting vignettes tucked in tree stumps and between the stones, visitors note his Mountain Laurels look better than the mountain varieties. You realize how fortunate we are that Dick and Barbara open their garden for fundraising events. Says Dick, “I am glad to have something right in my back yard that can raise awareness of nature and help support our horticultural heritage.”

The community is grateful.