Elizabethan Gardens

Elizabethan Gardens fountain

A stroll through the Elizabethan Gardens is a must for every visitor to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. First proposed in 1950, The Garden Club of North Carolina adopted the project in 1951. On Virginia Dare’s birthday, August 18, 1960, the Elizabeth Gardens officially opened its gates and continues to be a living memorial to the first English colonists who came to America and “walked away through the dark forest into history” as memorialized in Paul Green’s symphonic drama, “The Lost Colony”.

Sir Walter Raleigh was responsible for this initial attempt to settle the New World under Elizabeth I. As a result, Elizabethan Gardens is located within the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and adjacent to the Waterside Theater. Comprised of over 10 acres of land, Elizabethan Gardens exhibits a myriad of wildflowers, shrubs and trees, including an ancient Live Oak, which has been growing there since planted in 1585.

Beautiful plants are not the only things on exhibit at Elizabethan Gardens. Included on the grounds is a historic site of the The New World’s first English Colony. Sculptured gardens bloom alongside period stone sculptures. Period furniture and portraits grace the interior of the Gatehouse, a rendition of a 16th century orangery, while a marble fountain graces the exterior.

Theater is present at Elizabethan Gardens in the form of the annual presentation of the one-woman show, “Elizabeth R”. Elizabethan Gardens also collaborates with other organizations such as the Roanoke Island Association, to present other special programs throughout the year.

Elizabethan GardensOpen year-round, seven days a week, Elizabethan Gardens displays plants, trees, shrubs and flowers particular to each season. Special themed and plant-specific areas are among the exhibits. For example, the Shakespearean Garden displays plants, shrubs and herbs used in Shakespeare’s works, and those used by 16th century gardeners.

Beginning in April, the Rhododendron Walk showcases rhododendrons and azaleas. The newly renovated Fragrance Walk contains trees, shrubs and perennials that emit a scent.

While strolling through the grounds, visitors can also enjoy a chance to get together. The Meeting Hall can be reserved for parties, musical entertainment and weddings. Elizabethan Gardens retains a staff to assist in planning meetings and group activities, and can accommodate weddings of up to 400 guests.

Visitors can tour Elizabethan Gardens alone or join a group. Guided tours are available to all ages, including school children. Hours vary depending on the season, with summer hours lasting until 8 p.m. Educational workshops and seminars on plants and gardening history are available as well, and can be found on the schedule of events.

Gifts and mementoes of a trip to Elizabethan Gardens are available in the Gift and Plant Shop. Many of the plants on exhibit are available for sale as well, most of them grown right at Elizabethan Gardens. Gardeners and history enthusiasts as well can take home a piece of the Elizabeth Gardens to grow right in their own home.

Horticulture, history, theater, entertainment, education and beauty: Elizabethan Gardens has something for everyone and should not be missed. It's a great place to go on a hot day - much of it is shaded. Adult admission is $8.00.

Visit the Elizabethan Gardens website.

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