300 Airlie Rd., Wilmington
HOURS: Jan. 2–Mar. 19 Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.,
Mar. 20–Dec. 31 Mon.–Sun. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
COST: $5 adults, $3 children 6–12
Airlie Gardens was founded in 1901 as the estate of an affluent industrialist. At its peak in the 1920s, the 67-acre garden was plated with more than half a million azaleas and 5,000 camellias, several of which still bloom in the garden.
There are actually several different gardens, including the Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, which is filled with metal and ceramic sculptures that were crafted by local artists; the Butterfly Garden, bursting with nectar-bearing blooms; and the Pergola Garden, which was created in the early 1900s and is filled with seasonal plantings that surround a pergola. The centerpiece of the garden is the Airlie Oak, a majestic tree that dates back to 1545.
Tours are self guided and maps are provided with admission. Walking trails wind past each of the gardens (with lots of benches scattered along the paths to stop and admire the views).
Golf-cart tours are available for those who have trouble walking. Call 48 hours in advance to reserve a golf-cart tour.
© Jodi Helmer from Moon Charlotte, 1st Edition