In downtown Raleigh just off Western Boulevard a delightful surprise awaits the adventurous garden explorer, the WRAL-TV Azalea Gardens. I’ve lived in Raleigh long enough that this destination should have been marked off my Places to Visit list long ago.
On a recent October morning my wife/photographer joined me to check out the garden and see if what we’ve heard is true. Our consensus is this garden is a must-visit.
We were not expecting many blooms this late in the season (October) and were pleasantly surprised by the hard-working azaleas, coleus, impatience, and cannas outdoing one another to capture our attention.
The grounds are immaculately maintained, and I want to give a shout out to the gardeners and landscapers who take such pride in their work. You’re doing a great job, ladies and gentlemen.
Near the main entrance we found a plaque with the words of Dorothy Frances Gurney, “One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.” Well said. That captures how I feel in the garden, mine or someone else’s.
The garden, ¾ of an acre in size, sits on a sloping site surrounded by the five acres of the WRAL studios on one side and the back-side of a strip mall on the other. Thankfully the strip mall disappeared from view as I took in the feast of sights and sounds.
As the name implies the centerpiece plants are azaleas, forty-five varieties according to the official brochure. Dogwoods, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas make a fair showing also along with fountains and a few garden sculptures.
I dipped my fingers in the fountain but that was to remove a collection of pine needles and leaf debris. Honest!
We loved this garden snippet which demonstrates that gardening can be enjoyed in any size space.
The mature azaleas stand tall enough that one feels alone in a private garden while exploring the numerous paths crisscrossing the site. Children would jump at the chance to scamper and explore. This garden is a great classroom for teaching that visitors respect the boundaries created by the paths and leave only footprints.
Benches sprinkle the garden offering strategic locations for enjoying the vistas, taking a breather, snapping a selfie, or stealing a kiss. I tried all four to make sure the ambiance was supportive.
The garden offers ample parking just across the driveway and a one unit restroom is accessible inside the lower level of the office building for emergencies.
The butterfly parked in the path for a sun-warmed snooze. No doubt he was overwhelmed by the vast array of blooms left to sample.
I give Capital Broadcasting founder, A. J. Fletcher, two thumbs up for his vision in creating this garden to share with the community, and I commend the current leaders of the organization for perpetuating his work. Thank you all!