New Hanover County Arboretum plans fall activities in new ways to slow the spread of COVID-19

Posted September 17, 2020 at 3:30 pm     Category: Arboretum & NCSU Extension Service
Arboretum Fall virtual events graphic

NEW HANOVR COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County residents are invited to take part in seasonal activities and programming with the New Hanover County Arboretum and Cooperative Extension. All events adhere to COVID-19 safety measures and offer fall fun in new ways.

Dorothy Gillespie Art Exhibition, now through March 2021

Enjoy a self-guided tour of a Dorothy Gillespie art exhibition on the grounds of the New Hanover County Arboretum. The exhibit features five displays of the activist’s artwork, with every color of the rainbow represented. More on Dorothy Gillespie at

Soil My Undies – Oh My! September 11 – October 31

The New Hanover County Cooperative Extension, in collaboration with Wilmington Compost Co., is taking the Soil My Undies challenge to analyze soil on the grounds of the New Hanover County Arboretum. The Soil My Undies challenge was established by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Oregon as a fun and silly way to explore the topic of soil health, and challenges farmers and agricultural enthusiasts to bury 100 percent cotton underwear in their fields to gauge the health of their soil. Guests to the gardens can visit the display near the Veggie Garden.

Hispanic Heritage Month Tour, September 15 – October 15

Visitors to the New Hanover County Arboretum can take a self-guided tour of plants native to Latin America. Pick up a scavenger hunt form when you arrive and drop the completed form in the dropbox at the front of the Administration Building for a chance to win a door prize. Find more activities for Hispanic Heritage Month at the Arboretum to

Self-Guided Native Plant Festival, September 19 – 25

The annual Native Plant Festival has been redesigned, so attendees can learn about and buy native plants and incorporate them into their gardens, while honoring safety guidelines surrounding COVID-19. This year’s festival will have both an online and outdoor component.

On Saturday, September 19, the festival will offer a day of virtual presentations by seven local horticultural experts, which can be enjoyed from home, on the event’s YouTube channel.

Additionally, through September 25, many of the nurseries that normally sell plants during the festival will instead invite the public to their farms and nurseries, to view and purchase native plants and to see where they’re grown. A list of participating nurseries and a map for a self-guided tour that takes you to area nurseries that sell native plants is available at

BeFriend a Tree Sale, September 20 – October 20

Sponsored by Friends of the Arboretum, the BeFriend a Tree Sale proceeds will go to support the gardens at the New Hanover Arboretum. This online event will offer trees, mostly native and flowering, ranging from three to 10 gallons. Friends of the Arboretum has secured some tree species, like PawPaw and Persimmon, that are not normally readily available locally. Trees and merchandise can be viewed now at, and the sale opens September 20.

Friends of the Arboretum members will receive a 10 percent discount and free delivery. The delivery fee is $35 for non-members. No local pick-up option is available. More at

4-H Pumpkin-Palooza Online Pumpkin Carving Contest, October 12 – 29.

With more than 1,400 attendees and more than 120 pumpkins, the inaugural 4-H Pumpkin-Palooza in 2019 exceeded all expectations in attendance and carved pumpkins. This year, because of COVID-19, the 2020 pumpkin-carving contest is going virtual.

Enter your carved pumpkin in the virtual contest and see the many other fun and spooky pumpkins in the 4-H Pumpkin-Palooza contest. For more information, go to

25th Annual Art in the Arboretum, November 6 – December 17

Local and regional artists have annually circled the November date for the annual Art in the Arboretum art show and sale for the jury-selected works on display and festival activities at the Arboretum. Rather than a live iteration of the event this year, the 25th anniversary of the largest coastal outdoor art show and sale in the state will be held online, from November 6 to December 17 at Shopping begins November 6.

All sales of artwork will be facilitated by the Friends of the New Hanover county Arboretum, with artists earning 70 percent of the sales price, and 30 percent supporting the gardens.

Art entries are open now. For more information about the show, how to enter or how to purchase, call Roben Jarrett at 910-798-7671.


About the Arboretum

The New Hanover County Arboretum located at 6202 Oleander Drive, is the botanical jewel of southeastern North Carolina, with seven acres of splendor, it is open, for free, to the public every day. Through its affiliation with North Carolina State University and that university’s Cooperative Extension outreach, Arboretum staffers offer a multitude of services, including soil testing and plant disease and pest triage.

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Communications and Outreach: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 195 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7461 • Fax 910-798-7277
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