Calling all armchair travelers, citizen scientists, and plant lovers! The JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University has some fantastic winter events lined up to help chase the winter blahs away with a phenomenal cast of speakers, interactive events, and an opportunity to visit the home and garden of one of the premiere plantsman in the world.

Coming up on the last day of January is one of our first Citizen Scientist programs at the JCRA. Project BudBurst is a network of people across the United States who monitor plants as the seasons change. We are a national field campaign designed to engage the public in the collection of important ecological data based on the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants (plant phenophases). Project BudBurst participants make careful observations of these plant phenophases. The data are being collected in a consistent manner across the country so that scientists can use the data to learn more about the responsiveness of individual plant species to changes in climate locally, regionally, and nationally.

Project Budburst is a national citizen scientist program tracking plants as they go through seasonal changes.

Project BudBurst is a great way for your family to become involved in a Citizen Science project in a great family-friendly environment. Join us on Saturday, January 31 at 10:30 for a free information session on how you can get involved in vital research. For more information go here and here.

Our theme for 2015 invites you to “Stop and Smell the Roses” and we are kicking off the year with a phenomenal line-up for our Winter Symposium. Join us on Saturday, February 21 for an informative and fun-filled morning. This program is not just for the rosarians, but for all plant lovers! As an added bonus, Plant Delights Nursery will be open especially for symposium attendees on Friday February 20. This will be your chance to visit the garden and shop for plants before the crowds descend for the regularly scheduled open house the following weekend!

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Dr. John Dole, one of the premiere researchers on cut flowers (he literally wrote the book on it), will take us on a tour of the secret life of cut roses. While most folks don’t think twice about where their Valentine’s Day roses come from, their history and modern production is fascinating. Bryce Lane, one of the country’s best-known teachers and speakers will bring his always informative and entertaining style to bear on encouraging us to slow down and enjoy the gardens we create by appreciating the power of plants to change lives. Our keynote speaker, Bill McNamara, has been collecting plants in Asia for over 2 decades for Quarryhill Botanical Garden where nearly half of the 200 wild rose species can be found. He has been collecting these roses and other plants for display, research, and conservation at one of the most unusual gardens in the world. His wit, wisdom, and passion are the hallmarks of his always fascinating talks. Go here for details. Space is limited and this event will sell out fast.

Bill McNamara has spent 26 years studying and collecting plants in Asia.

Rounding out our big winter programs is a fun-filled “Evening with the Explorers: Triumphs and Tribulations of the Plant Hunters” on Friday evening, March 6. This date night event will kick off with heavy hors d’oeuvres and a selection of local beer and wine. Fast paced and entertaining talks by Scott McMahan of McMahan’s Nursery and myself will be followed by plantsman extraordinaire Dan Hinkley – always one of the hottest tickets in the horticultural world – will highlight the highs and lows of collecting plants in the wild from the jungles of Ecuador to the peaks of China. We’ll cap the program with a panel discussion and Q&A for our speakers and a few other plant collectors including Greg Paige, Andrew Bunting, and Ozzie Johnson. Information can be found here.

Dark of night is no match for a dedicated plant lover.  Dan Hinkley has been a long-time JCRA friend.  Photo by J.C. Raulston on a 1994 trek to Heronswood.

This plant explorers evening is a joint fund-raiser to support the JCRA’s plant collecting initiatives and the expeditions of the Scott, Ozzie, Dan, and Andrew (SODA?) cabal. A selection of rare, choice, and highly lust-worthy plants will be offered in both a live and silent auction but the highlight of the auction will be a 2 night stay for 2 at Dan Hinkley’s personal home, Windcliff, overlooking Puget Sound, including a gourmet dinner and private tours of both Windcliff and Heronswood plus other Seattle area gardens. Bids start at $3000 and can be made prior to the event or by proxy.   This is truly a once in a lifetime experience and worth twice the starting bid at least.

A photo from my 2010 pilgrimage to Windcliff.  A chance to spend 2 nights with Dan and Robert at their amazing home and garden is a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity available in our silent auction.

Special thanks to event sponsor Bartlett Tree Experts and speaker sponsor Spring Meadow Nursery.

Visit us at for all of the many happenings at the JC Raulston Arboretum!