Name of Garden:
The property known as Airlie was part of a 640-acre land grant from King George II to the Ogden brothers in 1735; by the 1800s much of the original acreage had been transferred to Joshua Grainger Wright.
It was not untill the arrival of Sarah Jones, wife of Pembroke Jones, that a formal garden was created. The Joneses were wealthy industrialists noted for their lavish entertaining. They used Airlie as a means to accommodate their guests and parties.
Sarah Jones began planting the property in 1901 and later in 1906 commissioned German landscape architect Rudolf Topel to transform the tract into a picturesque garden. Airlie reached its peak during the 1920s, at which time it was reported that over a half million azaleas and 5,000 camellias were in the garden; many of these plants still bloom and thrive in the garden. The 67-acres of today's Airlie are all that remain of the original 155-acre estate.
The Corbett Family purchased the Airlie property from the Joneses in 1948 and used the gardens as a primary residence. Local business owners with strong ties to the community, the Corbetts would open the garden to the public several seasons throughout the year, especially in the spring during azalea bloom. In 1999 the family sold the property to New Hanover County. Today, Airlie is a local treasure as one of the last undeveloped land tracts along Bradley Creek. The gardens are undergoing restoration and are now preserved for public use.
Airlie Gardens encompasses 67 acres of quintessential Southern gardens with 10 acres of freshwater lakes. Features include azaleas, camellias, statuary and the Historic Airlie Oak. This once privately owned garden was purchased for the public by New Hanover County in January, 1999. The gardens are located near Wrightsville Beach on Airlie Road.
300 Airlie Road,
Wilmington, NC 28403
Adult price is $5, children under five are free and for children ages 6-12 the price is $3.00.
Regular Season Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 15, 2006 to December 23, 2006
Holiday: Open all except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day
County Free Day: The second Saturday of each month, County residents are invited to come and enjoy the Gardens free of charge. Garden Tours will also be available beginning at 1:00 p.m. and again at 2:00 p.m. Please bring proof of county residency; i.e. driver's license.