Airlie Gardens of Wilmington, North Carolina were established in 1901. There is an oak tree on the property that was a little acorn in the mid 1500s. In 1999, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund purchased the gardens from the Corbett family. They restored the 67 acreas and continue to add more areas of interest. There is a fountain garden, butterfly garden, and over 100,000 azaleas. The garden is home to many camelias and native plants as well.
****Many of the links on this site are broken—so I am trying to upload the albums to my new site at Decorate A Garden. I am sorry for the inconvenience. If you would like to see this whole album, I am in the process of uploading it to the new site. Hopefully it will be done by the time you get there 😉
The sculpture garden and bottle tree is one of the main attractions. Built in memory of Minnie Evans.
The following information about Minnie was taken from the Airlie Garden site.
Minnie Evans was the gatekeeper of Airlie Gardens from 1949 to 1974, and is considered to be one of America’s most important visionary artists. Born in Long Creek, N.C. in 1892, Minnie’s original name was Minnie Eva Jones (no relationship to Pembroke Jones). Two months after her birth, Minnie and her mother moved to Wilmington to live with Minnie’s grandmother, Mary Croom Jones. Years passed and Minnie Eva Jones married Julius Evans in 1908. Julius was a coachman for Pembroke Jones and a supervisor for the Pembroke Park property. In 1935, following a vision, Minnie Evans began drawing. Her own take on color, mysticism, and symmetry made her art unique. Minnie died in 1987 at the age of 95. While at Airlie Gardens, be sure to visit stop nine on the garden tour, the Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden and Bottle Chapel. It was constructed by local artists as a tribute to Minnie’s life and talent.
A Brief History
The property known as Airlie was part of a 640-acre land grant from King George II to the Ogden brothers in 1735; by the 1800s much of the original acreage had been transferred to Joshua Grainger Wright.
It was not untill the arrival of Sarah Jones, wife of Pembroke Jones, that a formal garden was created. The Joneses were wealthy industrialists noted for their lavish entertaining. They used Airlie as a means to accommodate their guests and parties.
Sarah Jones began planting the property in 1901 and later in 1906 commissioned German landscape architect Rudolf Topel to transform the tract into a picturesque garden. Airlie reached its peak during the 1920s, at which time it was reported that over a half million azaleas and 5,000 camellias were in the garden; many of these plants still bloom and thrive in the garden. The 67-acres of today’s Airlie are all that remain of the original 155-acre estate.
The Corbett Family purchased the Airlie property from the Joneses in 1948 and used the gardens as a primary residence. Local business owners with strong ties to the community, the Corbetts would open the garden to the public several seasons throughout the year, especially in the spring during azalea bloom. In 1999 the family sold the property to New Hanover County. Today, Airlie is a local treasure as one of the last undeveloped land tracts along Bradley Creek. The gardens are undergoing restoration and are now preserved for public use.
End of part 1