Enjoy Nature’s Gift at the New Hanover County Arboretum while on vacation


Director, NC Cooperative Extension – New Hanover County Center and Arboretum

A few decades ago, I decided to normalize a somewhat abnormal practice; I did not offer material gifts, I offered experiences.

It started when my kids were young enough that they weren’t so deeply rooted waiting for a wrapped gift from me under the tree or for their birthday. They grew up enjoying the carefully curated excursion or outing with their father instead. The trip to Manhattan to see Broadway shows for one, a ski trip to Breckenridge for the other. I really don’t think Sara or Jonathan missed having the toy or the t-shirt that would have long since found its way into a landfill. Memories live a long time.

The tree canopy of the Arboretum is colorful at this time of year.

With increased awareness of my carbon footprint, my experiential gifts for the next generation of receivers (grandchildren Lucy, Elliott, James, Oliver and Clara) involve much less air travel and more local, low-cost entertainment. . For example, last weekend two of the greats took part with me in a sustainable fashion show “Climate change is not hot”, a fundraising event showcasing amazing thrifty fashion designs, modeled by the diversity of human forms that nature offers. Long bike rides around Greenfield Lake or a pedal boat trip to observe the wildlife by the lake sharpened observation skills and provided exercise resulting in restful sleep for the child and grandfather. The little ones still enjoy the breeze and the swing motion and the bicep work gives Pops a light cardio workout.

Brown is also a color and important for the life cycle of ecosystems.

Spending time in nature with loved ones is such a gift of mutual benefit. A free local opportunity for this is offered at the New Hanover County Arboretum. The gardens are free and open daily, including Christmas and New Years. Our vegetable patch area features owner-scale hydroponic systems, compost bins, raised gardens planted with cover crops or vegetables. winter and signs identifying crops. Our storm water infiltration zone is an engineered system that prevents flooding. The rose garden is currently in winter rest, as are the grass patches that help the visitor identify common lawn grasses in the area during the warm season. The Native Plant Garden identifies many underutilized plants for our landscapes that provide food and winter habitat for our wildlife. During your visit, remember that “brown is also a color” and deserves respect in the life cycle of our ecosystem.

Japanese maples offer a range of colors in late fall.

The iconic Japanese Garden is flanked by the red Torii gates and features a rather authentic tea house and stream. Transcendent and meditative, this garden is a favorite of many. The paths continue through a magnificent collection of camellias and a bright display of colorful winter flowers. The Garden of Contemplation honors those who served in our army with flags of the Armed Forces branches, commemorative paving stones and a maze to walk through. The herb garden presents culinary and medicinal herbs well suited to cultivation in our region. The Kindergarten is undergoing renovations this winter with some great interactive features to come. The wooded garden and large lawn are great places for a picnic – please bring compostable utility items to reduce our landfill waste, being careful of what goes where in our three bin waste system – landfill (gray), recycling (blue) and compost (green).

The Koi Pond is a central feature of the New Hanover County Arboretum.

The koi pond feeds a few hundred of these colorful fish, resting and needing no food during those cool dormant days; However, continue to enjoy observing the unique markings of each adorable animal. The dominant color floor of the garden will soon fade, but a few more days will allow us to enjoy the gold, reds and oranges of the canopy. We hope you will offer time in nature with your loved ones this holiday at the Arboretum, free and open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lloyd Singleton

Lloyd Singleton is the Director of NC Cooperative Extension – New Hanover County Center and Arboretum, located at 6206 Oleander Drive, Wilmington NC, he can be contacted at [email protected] or 910-798-7660.

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