uac031611001.gif For more than 20 years the Cape Fear Botanical Garden has been inspiring, educating and enriching the lives of visitors. Its self-proclaimed role in the community is “In addition to showcasing nature’s beauty, our garden serves in many roles: environmental stewardship, education and research, the preservation of our agricultural heritage, a unique setting for activities and events, a prime attraction for visitors from near and far, a valuable economic resource for our community.”

On April 1, the CFBG is hosting the Second Annual Rhythm and Blooms Benefit Concert. The gates open at 7 p.m. and the concert is at 8 p.m.

“We are featuring the Blue Dogs who are from Charleston, S.C. Their sound has kind of like a blue grass, bluesy, kind of country feel,” said Anna Grantonic, assistant director of development and marketing at Cape Fear Botanical Gardens. “It is going to be kind of neat because you will get to see the new pavilion — it won’t be open but it will be kind of a sneak peak before the grand opening the next day. It will be a fun and relaxed event where you can hear some good music, have some drinks and eat some good food.”

The food will be provided by the Invisible Chef. It will be light fare including things like sandwiches and salads, according to Grantonic. There will be food and drinks and a cash bar available. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

With all that the garden provides to the community, this is an opportunity for nature lovers, gardening enthusiasts, music lovers and folks who want to see Cape Fear Botanical Gardens prosper to come out and not only support a good cause, but enjoy a fun and relaxing evening in the garden.

Rhythm and Blooms is a fundraiser for the garden,” said Grantonic. “Proceeds will go toward our expanded programming. With the new building and future special events we want to expand the type of events we offer. And of course, it will also support general operations. We are facing big changes and want to be ready.”

On April 2, the public is invited to come and check out the new Wyatt Visitors Pavilion Complex. According to Grantonic, the visitors pavilion has been on the drawing board since the garden was founded more than 20 years ago. After much planning, fundraising and construction, it is finally ready to unveil to the public. The garden will open at 10 a.m. that day and there is no admission charge.

“We will have children’s activities and special speakers. Since it is the grand opening it is the fi rst time the public can come and tour the building,” said Grantonic. There are going to be tours available, face painting, live music, food and drinks. “Local columnist and gardening expert Roger Mercer — he was one of the gardens founding members — will be there to talk about the journey of the garden, its history and how it got to this point. It is going to be a fun day; we want everyone to come and enjoy it,” she added.

The visitor pavilion is 33,000 square feet and boasts several different areas perfect for meetings or other special events. The biggest special event area is called “The Orangery” and it is 9,000 square feet. It has wood decked ceilings and is designed to provide a lovely natural feel. It has the capacity for a standing reception of about 1,000 people making it perfect for things like wedding receptions. It also has arched glass doors so even though it is an indoor space, it has an outdoorsy feeling. The pavilion also boasts a grand hall which can be partitioned into three smaller rooms, which Grantonic pointed ou03-16-11-cover-story.gift is great for a conference or meetings. The garden staff will also benefit from the building, and will have new offi ces.

Once the pavilion is offi cially opened, the folks at the garden are planning to maximize its use. They have a new gift shop which will have specialty garden items, souvenirs and nature related things. The public is welcome to browse and shop there and they will be able to do that without having to pay admission to the garden.

During nicer weather, and on peak days, they are also are going to have the Invisible Chef providing lunches, so visitors can come and have lunch at the garden, without paying admission.

“There is a lot of new stuff,” said Grantonic. “We are so excited.”

They aren’t wasting time putting their new space to good use. On April 9, the public is invited to the Spring Plant Sale and Symposium. It’s an expanded version of the spring plant sale that the garden has offered for years. The vendors and garden centers that people have come to expect and anticipate will be there. What is different is the addition of speakers and presentations. The sale starts at 9 a.m.

From 10-11 a.m. check out the Orchid Potting Demonstration and Help Session with Keith Clayton of the Sandhills Orchid Society. From 11 a.m. to noon walk and talk with Roger Mercer about his favorite plants and places, including Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

At 12:15 p.m. stop by and catch a Container Gardening Demo with Sandy Connolly of Green Biz Nursery and Landscaping.

With all of the extra activities going on, don’t forget that the garden is open daily as an oasis to the public. Take a walk, get inspired, catch your breath and refresh your spirit. It is open Monday through Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Admission is currently $6 (Military and AAA receive a $1 discount), children ages 6-12: $1 and children 5 and under are free. Prices are expected to increase slightly after April 2. Find out more about Cape Fear Botanical Gardens at 486-0221 or www.capefearbg.org.

PHOTO: On April 1, the CFBG is hosting the Second Annual Rhythm and Blooms Benefit Concert.

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