Best Bets: Botanical Gardens Across the Triangle

8 beautiful gardens that will make you stop and smell the roses
Juniper Copy
Juniper Level Botanic Garden

What’s the difference between a botanical garden and an arboretum? It depends on who is asked. Some experts say that an arboretum is a specialized botanical garden while others say the words are simply synonyms. This got us thinking about local gardens in the Triangle and where you can find them. Join us as we plant roots at 8 local botanical gardens and dig up noteworthy information about each.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens

History and beauty all stemming from one place. The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens, created in 1975, was the first public park in the US devoted to Dr. King and the civil rights movement. The park is 2.4 acres and includes the following: a life size statue of Dr. King himself, a water monument honoring civil rights, a picnic shelter, and of course the gardens.

  • Location: 1215 Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, Raleigh, NC 27610
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

JC Raulston Arboretum

Located near NC State and operated by the university as well, the JC Raulston Arboretum is a personal favorite of many Raleighites. On 10-acres of land not one corner is wasted. As a matter of fact, one can find more than 15 gardens on the property. The Butterfly Garden, Japanese Garden, and Scree Garden, just to name a few, are among some of the flora and fauna displays present.

  • Location: 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC 27606
  • Cost: Free, but donations encouraged
  • Hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-4:30pm; Saturday & Sunday, 10am–6pm

Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Known for their political satire covers, limited visiting days, and footpaths that are straddled by beautiful waterfalls, ponds, and plants, the Juniper Level Botanic Garden is worth the wait. Each year the new hours are announced along with the new seed catalog that features a political cartoon cover. If you can make it to one of the 24 visiting days throughout the 2022 year, you’ll be rewarded with 28 acres filled with 30,000 local, exotic, and rare plants.

  • Location: 9241 Sauls Road, Raleigh, NC 27603
  • Cost: Free, but donations encouraged
  • Dates: Feb. 25-27, Mar. 4-6, Apr. 29-May 1, May 6-8, June 15-17 & 22-24, Sept. 16-18 & 23-25
  • Hours: Fridays & Saturdays 8am-5pm, Sundays 1-5pm

The Raleigh Rose Garden

There are only three accredited rose gardens in NC, and the Raleigh Rose Garden is one of them. Equally important are the sixty rose beds that help justify that title. Notable are the different variations of roses: hybrid tea, floribundas, grandifloras, miniatures, and antique. The best time to catch the roses in bloom are from mid-May to mid-November.

  • Location: 301 Pogue Street, Raleigh NC 27607
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

WRAL Azalea Garden

WRAL? Like the news station? Yes, the one and the same. On the station’s grounds they have their very own 1.5 acre garden that is open to the public. It’s predominately filled with azaleas, hence its name, but also is home to many other flowers and plants. Marvel at 60+ different varieties of plants including deciduous native and Encore azaleas. Mark your calendar for spring and fall when the azaleas are in bloom.

  • Location: 2619 Western Boulevard, Raleigh NC 27606
  • Cost: Free; free parking is available in the lot across from the gardens
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk
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WRAL Azalea Gardens


Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Similar to NC State, Duke University also has its own gardens to toot their horn about. The Sarah P. Duke Gardens equal five miles of allées, walks, and pathways. 43 markers are listed on the map like the dawn redwood, the Memorial Garden, and the bird viewing shelter. If you have roots at Duke, cross it off your bucket list.

  • Location: 420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC, 27705
  • Cost: Free; parking at Duke Gardens is $2 per hour
  • Hours: 8am to Dusk

Chapel Hill

Coker Arboretum

UNC is not going to let NC State and Duke show them up. The Coker Arboretum is the Tar Heels’ little slice of paradise. 5 acres of walking paths, wildflowers, open lawns, and shady benches are sprinkled within this peaceful utopia. Use the map and meander to all 17 highlighted locations. First start at the Natchez crape myrtle, then reach the half-way point at the catalpa, and lastly end your journey at the American elm.

  • Location: 399 E Cameron Avenue, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk

North Carolina Botanical Garden

At 1,100 acres, the North Carolina Botanical Garden is the the largest of its kind in the Triangle. Not only is is one of the biggest in this area but in the entire Southeast. From the carnivorous plant collection to the Native American garden there is something for everyone to enjoy. The staff has a rich desire to safeguard rare and endangered plant species while also educating new generations of green thumbs. Visit the impressive landscape with the family, but don’t forget your map!

  • Location: 100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
  • Cost: Fee, but donations encouraged
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-5pm & Sunday, 1-5pm



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