Tropical Gardening North Carolina Style

Plantsman Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, N.C., has created a beautiful botanical display garden filled with rare plants and animals.

silly-snake-sculpture-blogThe early morning photo shoot, part of the Garden Writers Association Symposium, was the perfect way to start the day. Buses began arriving at the Plant Delights Nursery around 7:30 and we were treated to a lovely breakfast before we hit the trails.

Plant Delights Nursery is more than a place to purchase plants. It’s a five-acre display garden with more than 17,000 different plant specimens. It would be impossible to see them all, especially since the garden is always changing.

The gardens began simply on a flat suburban site, but it has grown to become a showcase for rare and unusual ornamental plants.

Of course I was drawn to the plants in the Southwest Garden that featured delicate cacti planted with large agave, but I was equally taken with the Alpine Garden and Woodland Garden, too.

During the GWA visit, writers were invited to vote on their favorite candidates for the next Royal Hawaiian Colocasia introductions. These plants were started in Maui and brought to Plant Delights for hardiness testing.

I was pleased to have the chance to meet Dr. John Cho from the University of Hawaii, Maui Research Station, who is the breeder of these beautiful new varieties of ornamental Colocasias.

I wish I could share some details of these new plants, but photos weren’t allowed and I promised not to divulge any secrets. However, some spectacular plants will soon be on their way to gardens and gardeners in Zones 7b-11.

waterfall-blogIt was fun to wander through the display gardens because there were surprises around nearly every bend in the path.

If I had to choose my favorite spot it would be the secret hideaway behind the waterfall.

I really appreciated the chance to visit the gardens and to lose track of time in a tropical environment that felt so far from home.

I also loved the familiar quote found on the Plant Delights brochure, attributed to William Shakeshovel:

“All the world’s a nursery. And all the men and women are merely gardeners.”


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I am having so much fun vicariously visiting Raleigh. I can’t wait til you come to Texas and I can take you to The Great Outdoors.

I am having great fun vicariously visiting Raleigh.

Do you know what zone Raliegh is in? It seems that now that the rain has stopped, you’re in a semi-tropical paradise. Did you get a chance to talk soil with the caretakers of this wonderful place?

Hi Y’all. Be careful what you wish for, Dolores. The conference will be in Dallas next year so I just might be in your neck of the woods. The Great Outdoors sounds like another fabulous nursery to get lost in.

I asked about zone info when I was at Plant Delights and much of the area starts at Zone 7b. And the soil? Well, let’s just say, “If you plant it, it will grow.” I guess that’s what happens when plants get 50 inches of rain a year!

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