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Beauty in Bloom

04/01/2008 01:50PM ● Published by Anonymous

Every year with the arrival of spring, I am simply fascinated by the explosion of color I see all over the city and state -- dogwoods, blazing azaleas, camellias and rhododendron abloom in all gardens. During several trips to Japan, as a former manager for Japan Air Lines, I never saw anything as beautiful as our blooming North Carolina.

In Fayetteville, a stroll through the Cape Fear Botanical Garden invites you to commune with awakening nature. Located at the confluence of the Cape Fear River and Cross Creek, the garden includes old-growth forest, a laboratory for ornamental horticulture and a heritage garden with a recreated 19th century farmstead.

The Dogwood Festival held every April in our city includes an array of activities, the premier event being a drive along the 18-mile Dogwood Trail, which winds through the downtown historic district and among beautiful residential areas. Symphony performances, booth displays and street dancing take place all around Fayetteville to celebrate the thousands of blooming dogwoods, azaleas, daffodils, and camellias.

To instill a weekend with joie de vivre, travel to Asheville, one of North Carolina’s most appealing cities, and visit the Festival of Flowers held April 5-May 18 at Biltmore Estate. While there, a visit to the North Carolina Arboretum is a must.

Its 426 acres hold unique gardens, miles of easy to moderate trails, a greenhouse, the Grand Garden Promenade, the Outdoor Garden Amphitheatre and the National Native Azalea Repository.

Adjacent to the University of North Carolina at Asheville, with 10 acres of plants native to the Southern Appalachians, is the Botanical Garden at Asheville. Peak wildflower season is April through May.

A visit to an English village tucked into Winston-Salem will let you enjoy the quaint Reynolda Village. Close by, if you want to stop and smell the roses, visit Tanglewood Park in neighboring Clemmons. It is home to the Manor House Rose Garden, an arboretum, and a fragrance garden. Here, you will find more than 800 rosebushes, 400 of which are American Rose Society winners.

Exploring the gorgeous gardens in North Carolina is a real pleasure. There are many of them, and they are diverse in size, style and plant life. In April, the flowers offer dazzling bursts of color along the trails. The following are some examples.

In Belmont, 14 miles west of Charlotte, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is known for its painterly display of colors in a vast perennial garden, wildflower meadow, canal garden, and other themed areas.

In Greensboro, the Bicentennial Gardens offer a magnificent display of flowers in the carefully tended garden beds. Nearby is the Bog Garden. The natural setting includes wooden walkways over water and wetlands.

A true treasure in architecture, history and beautiful gardens can be found in New Bern in April. You can tour Tryon Palace and stroll through the 13 acres of gardens blooming in amazing colors. Do not miss the opportunity to participate in the Historic Homes and Gardens Tour April 11-12.

Spring is the most popular time for festivals in our beautiful state. North Carolina’s oldest city festival is the North Carolina Azalea Festival, April 9-13, which lures thousands of visitors to Wilmington, just when the city is looking its best. Guests enjoy a week-long event that includes parades, garden tours, the coronation of Queen Azalea, a variety show and a concert. A celebrity comes in for the event, but the main attraction is the gardens bursting with dogwood trees and the South’s signature azaleas.

Wilmington is most beautiful when millions of azaleas burst into bloom, and a magnificent place to admire them is at the Greenfield Gardens on Carolina Beach Road. Besides featuring a 150-acre cypress-studded lake, it offers a path for walking and biking around the park, a showplace during the Azalea Festival.

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