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I06-08-11-cape-fear-botanical.jpgt is not always easy to find that quiet, peaceful place in the midst of life’s busy-ness. Sure, taking the day off and heading out of town is sometimes out of the question, but a place to catch your breath, calm your inner voice and maybe find some peace and inspiration, that’s not asking too much, is it? No. No, it’s not, and there is a place right off 301 heading to the interstate that is just perfect for such things. It is the Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

It’s 77 acres of serenity, tucked between the Cape Fear River and Cross Creek, and it’s a mere two miles from downtown. It’s been a part of the community since 1989, offering classes and hosting events like Heritage Day and the semi-annual plant sale, providing walking trails and beautiful scenery along with education and inspiration.

Recently the garden had a major upgrade that makes their mission of enrichment, inspiration and enjoyment of nature; the collection, culture and aesthetic display of plants; encouragement of environmental stewardship, conservation, education and research; the preservation of our agricultural heritage; and engagement and involvement of the community that much easier and enjoyable for its visitors.

The Wyatt Visitors Pavilion Complex boasts a brand new gift shop, complete with a revamped selection of updated items for sale, as well as a new café. Feel free to visit either one without having to pay admission to the garden.

“There are unique garden accents, perfect birthday gifts for children, a little apparel, specialty herbs and plants that you can grow in pots,” said Anna Grantonic, assistant director of development and marketing.“

Anything that you might need for your garden that is unique you can find in there. The gift shop is carrying new and different things that people here will be interested in, some regional things as far as what type of plants we offer, there is a whole section on roses, rose t-shirts, rose magnets, things of that nature.”

While you are there, stop and have lunch. Sit on the patio if the weather isn’t too sultry and enjoy a meal prepared by the invisible chef. The café is open 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon – 2:30 on Sundays. Or, if lunchtime won’t work come back on Thursday evening. Through the summer, the garden is extending their hours. On Thursdays only, they will be open until 7 p.m. Right there is a little bit of extra time to take a stroll and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Grantonic was excited to share the news that the garden is nearly finished with a beautiful arbor, complete with a water feature. Work on the butterfly stroll is close to being completed, too.

“Eventually it is going to be a paved path, which will make it more accessible and it is going to feature plants that attract butterfl ies,” said Grantonic. “It is not contrived, it is a natural environment as opposed to a butterfly house where they are not necessarily in their natural environment. There are just going to be plants that attract butterfl ies. So hopefully, when it is in bloom it will be a fun place to see butterfl ies forming around these plants that are irresistible to them.”

Coming in September look for the Big Bugs exhibit. This nationally renowned exhibit has already been to more than 100 botanical gardens through out the country. Artist David Rogers creates huge sculptures made of all natural material depicting a variety of bugs.

“We’ll have those through out the grounds in different areas of the garden for people to walk through,” said Grantonic. “In conjunction with that there will be special tours and special merchandise. It will be here Sept. through Dec. We are very excited about it, we think it is a neat thing, especially for children to get a bugs eye view of things.

Visit the garden website to fi nd out more about their special activities and hours of operation at www.capefearbg.org.

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