The JC Raulston Arboretum, On A Morning in Late November

I’d be happy at any arboretum, anytime, but I especially love having free and easy access to NC State’s JC Raulston Arboretum just a few miles from my house. It’s a gem of a garden filled with rich biodiversity and an abundance of plants tested and tended to with care.

JC Raulston Arboretum | Photo by Michelle Smith, Gather Goods Co

It’s easy to see the appeal of the expansive gardens in the spring and summer when many plants are in bloom but if you really want to see the space in all it’s splendor head over on a brisk and clear early morning in late November. This is when textures and form shine and steal the show with a juxtaposition of glorious decay alongside signs of life. You can expect to see seed pods in the sun, smell the rich resinous smell of grasses and wet earth, maple leaves glowing amber and orange in the intense morning sun, with your breath fogging before you.

To me, it is awe-inspiring and magnificent. It makes me believe that God is no doubt a gardener before all else. Here you can commune with a hawk, his spotted feather wingspan set alight as you come near and then watch him glide into a thicket of brush, protected by branches and brambles.

I feel most myself here and engrossed in nature and I imagine anyone would if they took the time to be still and present here. In the garden it’s less about being the most and instead about being the least. It’s about blending in to become one with everything around you in concert, and that’s that. It just is.

What a breathless and beautiful experience. Aren’t we lucky then to have it in our own backyard?

Photos by Michelle Smith Creative, Gather Goods Co

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