Perspectives Online

2009 JC Raulston Arboretum gala is an enchanted garden party

Grassy pathways leading to the Winter Garden, Conifer Collection, Magnolia Collection, Elm Circle and Rose Garden enhanced the “enchanted garden” theme of the event.
Photo by Terri Leith

Dr. Julia Kornegay, head of the CALS Department of Horticultural Science, enjoys the 2009 Gala in the Garden.
Photo by Becky Kirkland
Blustery winds, pleasant temperatures and trails resplendent with beautiful blooms and shades-of-emerald foliage were all part of the enchanted atmosphere May 3 when the JC Raulston Arboretum held its annual Gala in the Garden. This year’s theme was “An Enchanted Garden Party,” and indeed the mischievous fairies of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream seemed to be playfully changing the weather from balmy and still to cool and terrifically breezy, as if to make away with the tents sheltering silent auction items.

Auction offerings were to be found in categories such as Out on the Town, Eclectic Collections, Secret Garden and Finer Things, as well as four tents of botanical selections. Bidders competed for items ranging from birdhouses, cakes and a bag full of beach stuff to pottery, paintings, autographed basketballs and bottles of wine. And of course there were the plants-- the trees, the flowers, the ornamentals. Juniper, azaleas, Japanese maples, kousa dogwoods, crepe myrtles, St. John’s wort, weeping blue Atlas cedar, shrub roses, common boxwoods, orchids, butterfly bushes and a contorted black locust known as “Lady in Lace” – all these and more were for sale to gardening enthusiasts in attendance.

A visitor is impressed by what she sees in the auction tents.
Photo by Becky Kirkland
“The Gala in the Garden has become a harbinger of summer gardening,” said Dr. Ted Bilderback, JCRA interim director and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor of horticultural science. “The gardening community gathers to enjoy the arboretum, visit with friends and, of course, bid on gardening gifts and one-of-a-kind plants donated from local nurseries.”

In addition to the silent auction, guests also enjoyed live music by the Southern String Band and gourmet hors d’oeuvres, including a special dessert reception.

The food itself was particularly special, as the gala cuisine, provided by Catering Works, featured local foods, supporting local agribusiness while providing the finest quality cuisine. The message of local food and healthy slow (as opposed to “fast”) food was prominent, as the gala supported the preservation of cultural cuisine and associated regional farming, as well as the environmental stewardship and value-added opportunities associated with sustainable agriculture.

Dean Johnny Wynne (center) leads the evening’s activities, along with Cyndy Allison (left) and Tori Callanan, event co-chairs.
Photo by Becky Kirkland
Among the local foods served were sea scallops from Wanchese, Smithfield bacon, organic strawberries and woodleaf honey from Franklin County, pickled okra from Brunswick County and pork tenderloin from Orange County.

Dr. Johnny Wynne, CALS dean, led the evening program, which featured Cyndy Allison and Tori Callanan, event co-chairs; N.C. State Chancellor James Oblinger; Linda and Rufus Edmisten, 2009 honorary co-chairs; and Bilderback.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the JCRA, the working research and teaching garden at N.C. State University.

— Terri Leith
As evening approached, guests gathered in the Ruby McSwain Education Center for special presentations.
Photo by Becky Kirkland

Enchanted garden spots offered places of quiet rest for visitors touring the arboretum.
Photo by Terri Leith
A garden-fresh colorful centerpiece decorates the table of gourmet local foods.
Photo by Becky Kirkland