JC Raulston Arboretum

Small purple flowers in a glass structure with a blue sky overhead.

If you’ve followed my photography for more than a few days, you know flowers are one of my favorite photo subjects. The bold colors and joyful shapes are endlessly inspiring to me as a landscape photographer.

JC Raulston Arboretum, which is home to one of the most diverse and expansive collections of plants in the southeastern U.S., is one of my tried and true places to go for a quick flower photography session.

It has become a frequent locale for my photo shoots for several reasons. For one, visiting is free and the gardens are open daily, including holidays, which makes it super convenient to fit in a quick session. On the weekends it is open until 8 p.m., making it possible to avoid the heat and get some fantastic golden hour shots.

Another reason I love the Arboretum is that it is constantly changing and evolving. With 10.5 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, outdoor art exhibits, and a rooftop terrace, there’s always something new and different to see. Some of the special gardens include a rose garden, a xeric or dry garden, and a scree garden. The parking lot even offers unique plantings, providing immediate gratification for me and my lenses as soon as I step out of my car!

Two pink flowers appearing to bow their blooms against a backdrop of greenery.

I often visit on Friday afternoons when I get off work early in the summer. The colorful, well-cared-for plantings make lovely photography subjects. I enjoy learning about the different types of flowers as I photograph them while letting go of the stress from the week.

I recently discovered that the Arboretum, which is affiliated with NC State University, offers photography workshops taught by a renowned landscape photographer. I haven’t tried one yet but it is definitely on my list to enroll in one of these as soon as I can find one that matches my schedule.

If you ever have the chance to visit Raulston Arboretum, I encourage you to do so. It is a picturesque sanctuary that is sure to calm, educate, and inspire.

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