by Judith Bailey on the Hidden Gem of the Outer Banks Arboretum and Teaching Garden in Kill Devil Hills
Lots of funding has been pouring into the towns on the Outer Banks in the last few years and one of the benefits of this are little parks being constructed for the public to enjoy.
One of these parks is in Kill Devil Hills, NC. Coming from north or south, turn onto Colington Road, which travels to Colington Island in the Sound.
But we won't be going that far. In a very short distance, opposite the Wright Brothers Memorial, you will see Veterans Drive. Take a left onto this road and go a short distance to Town Hall Drive. There is ample parking all around the municipal buildings.
On the land behind the Baum Center, the Dare County Master Gardeners have been busy as bees for a few years making two great gardens.
You can visit these areas any time of the year and find something beautiful. Little paths wind in and out of the live oaks and there is something to see or somewhere to sit, everywhere you look.
Birds like the little Outer Banks Arboretum, too, and are frequently seen, sitting in the tree limbs, singing their lovely melodies. There is a butterfly garden across Town Hall Drive and a newly installed "Totem" of Outer Banks animals carved in stone.
As I was taking pictures of the Outer Banks Arboretum for this article I happened upon the Master Gardeners at work and got a tour by the President, Dave Schindel. Not too many people know about these gardens, making them a true hidden gem -- and they are open to the public free of charge.
In May, the Master Gardeners are having a festival with exhibits of crafts and educational information. Near the gardens is a pond, encircled by a fitness trail. There are stations with instructions on signs explaining exercises and posts provided to do them. I do this little circuit often because it is fun to bike there and hike around. For the more adventurous there is also a skate park, rollerblade hockey rink and kiddie slides. Restrooms are also located there. This facility is near the softball and little league fields if you want to catch a game on a Saturday. Also nearby is a baseball field with a summer baseball league of young men from area colleges.
For a little history, when I moved to the Outer Banks in the early 1980's, it was a little like moving to the frontier. Year round residents were few and far between and the emphasis was on the tourist industry, not on services for locals. In addition to that, because of logging, storm erosion and open range grazing, most of the Outer Banks looked like a desert.
It is quite a wonderful benefit for those of us who live here to have these little parks and we are happy to share them with our seasonal visitors who are looking for somewhere to find some peace and quiet (Please!!) and beauty in the cool shade of the trees after a hectic time driving the highways and byways of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.