Elizabethan Gardens Tour, Part One

Next time you are in the Outer Banks, North Carolina and you are looking for something to do other than going to the beach, consider visiting The Elizabethan Gardens.  The gardens will engage horticulture enthusiasts, as well as children and families that like to explore the outdoors.  Located outside of Manteo on Roanoke Island, the Elizabethan Gardens have been around for over fifty years.  The gardens were the dream child of three people who wanted to solidify the staying power of the outdoor play The Lost Colony (also located within the same park). The original goal was to use the gardens as an example of what an early American colonist's garden would have looked like if the original colony on the island had not mysteriously disappeared.  If you are not from the area and are unaware of the folklore/history surrounding The Lost Colony, the first English Settlement in America, you can read more about it here The Lost Colony.  

The design of the garden is such that you almost never stumble on another person while you meander through the shaded pathways.  I love this garden because of the secret garden type feel that it gives as you wander around, in fact, I almost chose this as our wedding site many years ago!.  This is a place where you feel completely and happily alone in a garden.  Not an easy feat for a public garden to succeed in doing.  Since the goal of the garden was to make it look like it has been here since colonial America, the feeling of the garden is much older than it's fifty years.

As you come up the walkway flanked by crepe myrtles, the gatehouse and rather impressive wall come into view.  

A sweeping border to the left of the gatehouse of orange canna lilies, grasses, impatiens and coleus are backed by a mixture of shrubs.

To the right of the gatehouse is a handsome plaque dedicating the garden to the men and women that disappeared in the first colony of British citizens.

A intricate iron gate that once belonged to the French embassy in Washington DC is located along the wall to the right of the plaque.  

Let's take a peek through the gate....Looks very formal inside with brick paths and clipped boxwood hedges.

Above the door to the gatehouse is the coat of arms of Elizabeth I.  The gatehouse/entrance is filled with donated antiques and paintings dating back to the 1500s.

After traveling through the gatehouse, you enter a formal courtyard.  The courtyard consists of perennials, annuals and some forty plus herbs all bordered by a manicured hedge of boxwood.  There is also a small area of statuaries to purchase.  I would have liked to stay in this area and wander more, however I was with a group of people with ages spanning three year olds to fifteen year olds who were anxious to journey down the secret pathways.

The rest of the ten acres in the garden are made up of a series of meandering pathways filled with shade loving plants.  Rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, live oaks, ferns, hostas, cast iron plants, and leopard plants surround you as you walk the grounds. If you live within the region, this is a place to get ideas for your own shade garden or yard.

A new addition since the last time I was here are the large urns filled with shade lovers.  All the urns have been donated by individuals and bear a plaque in front to show their dedication.

 Choosing to take a left turn we run into another courtyard housing a rose garden room. The roses were not looking too good, however the shade lovers in this area were beautiful.  I particularly liked the statue behind the tree with a large fern topping it's head.

This area was filled with white hydrangeas and a variety of leopard plants.

'Early Amethyst' Hydrangea

A mass display of elephant ears and ivy climbing the rose garden room wall.
Spectacular live oaks fill the garden making it hard for even an adult to not think about climbing those limbs!

An enormous statue of  Elizabeth I greets you as you travel back on the main path.

Let's take a right turn past Elizabeth I where we find a small set of stone steps with a water feature.

Continuing in this direction hanging baskets filled with every day annuals make a stunning impact amongst all the greenery.

 One of the many surprises along this path is this gorgeous view of the Roanoke Sound.  It's hard to find a more peaceful spot than being in a beautiful garden overlooking the vastness of water that stretches to the horizon.

Another surprise greets us here.  A 16th century style gazebo overlooks the Roanoke and Currituck Sounds.  The gazebo was constructed using period tools and period techniques.  Not easy in this century I'm sure to find someone that can contruct a 16th century thatched roof! One could sit here all day in the quiet peacefulness overlooking the waterways.

Moving along, we come out on a rather large open space.  This area is sometimes used for weddings.  We have been here in the past when the white wooden chairs are set up in rows waiting for their seats to be filled.

The long, sweeping borders in this area are filled with hydrangeas, croscimia and impatiens.

The focal point of the border are the mass of cast iron plants and impatiens leading to a large urn with the Roanoke Sound as the backdrop.  This is where the bride and groom stand as family and friends surround them.

What's around the next turn?  You will have to wait until part two to find out!

Thank you to Carol at May Dreams Garden for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day today!  


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