The Elizabethan Gardens, as originally conceived by the Garden Club of North Carolina in 1950, was to be a tribute to the 117 colonist of the ill-fated Lost Colony. The original plan was to build a two acre English garden that any colonist of the 1587 era might be able to construct. It has grown to so much more. The 10 acre site now is home to over 500 different plant species which take turns blooming over the year.
The Elizabethan Gardens is located on the site where the colonists originally landed and today is adjacent to the Waterside Theater, home to the production of The Lost Colony near Manteo.
At the time of original construction, the garden club was notified by E.W. Reinecke of a dismantling project he was performing in Goergia on the estate of The Honorable John Hay Whitney, Ambassador to The Court of Saint James. Mr. Reinecke told the Garden Club that they should contact Umberto Innocenti and Richard Webel, two of the most famous landscape architects in the U.S. to intercede on the Garden Club’s behalf. They did so, and were gifted by Mr. Whitney the Italian fountain and pool with balustrade, sundials, and other items dating back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I. The significance being it was Queen Elizabeth I who backed Sir Walter Raleigh’s funding of the ill-fated colony. Mr. Webel than took this gift and formed the notion of an "Elizabethan" themed garden. The Gardens formally opened on August 18, 1960, the 373rd birthday of Virginia Dare, the first child of English descent born in the New World.
Every season brings a new and spectacular surprise, with April perhaps the prettiest month of the year. Because of the sheer beauty of the Gardens, it has become a favorite for local weddings. To quote the official website:
Each season brings a fresh and exciting array of flowering plants, shrubs and trees. Masses of blooming azaleas, dogwoods, rhododendrons, herbs and bulbs can be experienced in the spring. Sweet scented roses, magnolias, crape myrtle, hydrangeas and bedding plants bring stunning color to the summer garden. Annuals, impatiens and chrysanthemums are abundant in the autumn and spectacular camellias and daphne bloom in late fall and winter. Also enjoy exquisite antique statuary, the world's largest bronze likeness of HRH Queen Elizabeth I and period buildings.
Garden highlights include:
The Elizabethan Gardens are open year round from 9:00 to 8:00 during the summer, 9:00 to 6:00 during the spring and fall, and 10:00 to 4:00 during the winter. Tickets range in price from free for those under 5 to $8 for adults.
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I would like to thank the executive director of the Elizabethan Gardens, Mr. Horace Whitfield, for granting me permission to use the two pictures on this page from the Elizabethan Gardens website.