News Flash

Arboretum & NCSU Extension Service

Posted on: May 15, 2023

How the Cape Fear Garden Club makes a major impact in New Hanover County

As I wander the grounds of the New Hanover County Arboretum (my beautiful outdoor work home), I am very cognizant and pleased to see the number of indicators of support for our gardens from local organizations and people over the years.

This seven-acre wonderland is not a result of a single person or group, but rather it is a garden built by lots of our supportive public over the past few decades. Our dedicated volunteer Extension Master Gardeners work in the gardens every week, with work ranging from pulling weeds to planting flowers. Our Friends of the Arboretum provide financial support for garden enhancements. And many local groups continue to participate in grant funding of our free, open-every-day public garden. 

azalea garden tour sign in garden

One local powerhouse “gardening-focused group” is the Cape Fear Garden Club. The Cape Fear Garden Club's Grant Disbursement Committee is ready to receive requests from the local New Hanover County nonprofit community. The proceeds from the annual spring Azalea Garden Tour ticket sales are given back to New Hanover County each fall as grants to nonprofits for education, beautification, and conservation.

Over the years, the proceeds from the Azalea Garden Tours have supported local public and non-profits with grants totaling over $1,000,000.  

If the grant applicant is a charitable, non-profit organization and the project site is located within New Hanover County, grant funds, if awarded, may be applied toward costs of plants, soil additions or amendments, and irrigation systems. Schools, museums, parks and more have been granted funds for beautification projects. Conservation projects have included features that illustrate best management practices for stormwater and native plant gardens. Educational initiatives include multiple grant awards that have gone to schools and organizations for the purpose of educating people about how to use plants for conservation, food, landscaping, and attracting wildlife. Applications must be postmarked between May 1st and June 15th, and the application is linked here:

Sign outside a greenhouse

The history of impact of these Cape Fear Garden Club grants is significant and too numerous to list; the future is bright if qualified applicants continue to submit worthy projects to grow and enhance garden spaces in our community. The Azalea Garden Tour has helped the Cape Fear Garden Club give back to New Hanover County's public and nonprofit entities since 1953. Let’s keep it growing. 

In addition to the garden grants, funds from the tour also help sustain the club's 36 Standing and Special Committees which support several youth garden clubs. The tour provides funds for community projects like Plant-An-Azalea Week or the annual Beauty Spot Awards for a neighborhood entrance, local business or private residence. 


The New Hanover County Arboretum has been supported by the Cape Fear Garden Club in many ways; we look forward to a long, growing relationship. The arboretum is located at 6206 Oleander Drive, Wilmington, and is free and open daily from 8 a.m.-5p.m. Lloyd Singleton is the cooperative extension director and can be reached at or 910-798-7660. 

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