Azalea Collection

Airlie Gardens
Wilmington, North Carolina

"The spell upon entering is more that of a forest glorified than of a man-made garden." - E.T.H. Shaffer, Carolina Gardens (1937)

Wealthy socialite Sarah Green Jones began planting the spaces now known as Airlie Gardens about 1901. By that time, Sarah and her husband, Pembroke Jones, had begun an enormous expansion of the waterfront inn Sarah purchased shortly before their wedding in 1884. The garden seemed a natural accompaniment. Airlie reached its planting zenith in the late 1920s, at which time the garden included over half a million azaleas. While only 67 acres remain of the 155 acre estate, 100,000 azaleas still adorn the property. Today, the garden is open to the public. Airlie’s greatest threat looms largest in the fall. Located adjacent to North Carolina’s southeastern coastline, the garden is subject to damage from rising saltwater and the blistering winds that accompany the coast’s occasional hurricane.

Photo courtesy Airlie Gardens
educational partners
Garden DesignGeorge Eastman House
Additional Sponsors

John A. Brooks, Inc. • The Brown Foundation • Charles Butt • The City of Charleston • Barb & George Cochran • Topher Delaney• Jungle Gardens, Inc. • Magnolia Plantation & Gardens • Marc Dutton Irrigation, Inc. • Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation • L. Cary Saurage II Fund • Jeff & Patsy Tarr • Seibert & Rice