Thursday, May 15, 2008

Orton Plantation, Airlie Gardens and the New Hanover County Arboretum

2008 April 10-12

For spring break, my family and I went to our favorite Brunswick County beach at the coast of North Carolina.  The weather was cool most of the week, but we had sun about half the time.  My 10 year old daughter and I went to Orton Plantation near Southport one day and it was absolutely lovely.  Peak azalea week - her enthusiasm was a bit of a surprise, but it was priceless. Technically Orton is in Winnebow, but if you go to Winnebow looking for it, it will take you longer to find than it does from

Orton is a formal garden with a very pretty chapel, a plantation house, and lots and lots of azaleas. The whole garden hummed with the buzz of bees.

Another day, while the rest of the family was on the beach, I went to Wilmington and visited Airlie Gardens and the New Hanover County Arboretum.  I was disappointed at first because the first few things you see near the entrance were sort of dried out and run down looking, but it got much, much better.

The New Hanover County Arboretum was the biggest surprise. It's small but delightful!  On Oleander Drive, it is a short distance from Airlie. I stopped in on the way out of town. All the plants are labeled! It was such a relief after searching all over the place for labels which mostly didn't exist in the other gardens. There were pamphlets in little mail boxes made by the Boy Scouts and the 4-H'ers which included plant lists and planting instructions. How nice of them.

The Children's garden is the most awesome one I've seen. Most of the plants are miniatures or dwarf varieties. The playhouse has a little table inside and murals all over the walls. From the window, there's a vista of the lake and some sort of loch monster.


  1. Last I visited the area Orton Plantation was closed, remodeling I believe. Enjoyed the read and photos. You never mentioned Airlie Gardens Bottle chapel, was it not installed back then? I have photos on my blog of it, in case you have not seen it.

  2. randy, either it wasnt there, or i missed it. i am planning to visit again this year, so now i know to look for it. meanwhile, i will check it out on your blog. thanks for the comment!