20 Uncovered Facts About The Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island


Amidst the storied whispers of Roanoke Island, where history and mystery blend in an enchanting dance, resides a splendid haven of peace and beauty - The Elizabethan Gardens.

This floral masterpiece, dedicated to the memory of the first English colonists who attempted to carve out a new life in the New World, is an enduring testament to the human spirit and the timeless allure of nature.

Queen Elizabeth Statue at the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, North Carolina

{photo credit: shutterstock/Jason Schronce}

As we venture down its winding paths, let's pause to appreciate twenty fascinating facts about The Elizabethan Gardens.

  1. Foundation: The Elizabethan Gardens were established in 1951 by The Garden Club of North Carolina, a testament to the Elizabethan settlers who tried to establish a foothold in the New World.
  2. Dedication: The gardens are a living memorial to the lost colonists of Roanoke, a tribute to their courage and pioneering spirit.
  3. Location: The Elizabethan Gardens are located on Roanoke Island, within the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. This place is renowned for the mysterious disappearance of the English settlers in 1587.
  4. Size: This botanical marvel spans over 10.5 acres, featuring various plants, flowers, shrubs, and trees.
  5. Queen Elizabeth I Statue: The gardens are home to a stunning statue of Queen Elizabeth I, the reigning monarch during the era of the Roanoke colony.
  6. Designer: The Elizabethan Gardens were designed by M. Umberto Innocenti and Richard Webel. Their design imbued the gardens by blending 16th-century classic elements and the local landscape.
  7. Garden Styles: The Elizabethan Gardens embody elements of various garden styles. They feature Italian Renaissance garden elements, Elizabethan knot garden designs, and a typical English rose garden.
  8. The Sunken Garden: One of the garden's highlights is the Sunken Garden, a secluded spot surrounded by magnolia trees and featuring a lovely pool filled with water lilies and koi.
  9. Botanical Diversity: The gardens showcase various plant species. The gardens brim with botanical beauty - from seasonal annuals and perennials to camellias, azaleas, crape myrtles, hydrangeas, and more.
  10. Ancient Live Oak: The gardens boast a majestic live oak over 400 years old, bearing silent witness to centuries of history.
  11. The Gazebo: The charming wooden gazebo offers a serene spot to sit and soak in the beauty of the surroundings.
  12. Shakespearean Herb Garden: A particular section of the gardens is dedicated to herbs mentioned in Shakespeare's works, a delightful nod to the Elizabethan era's literary richness.
  13. Wildlife: The gardens serve as a habitat for wildlife, from butterflies and bees to birds and squirrels, making them a naturalist's delight.
  14. Gift Shop: The Elizabethan Gardens also house a gift shop, offering a variety of garden-related items, books, local art, and more.
  15. Seasonal Displays: The gardens are known for their stunning seasonal displays, from spring's riot of colors to the twinkling lights of the annual WinterLights event during the holiday season.
  16. Educational Programs: The gardens host various educational programs, including guided tours, workshops, and special events, offering a deep dive into horticulture.
  17. The Gatehouse: The Elizabethan-style Gatehouse, adorned with a slate roof, leaded glass, and an antique weather vane, makes for a fitting entryway into this magical realm.
  18. Weddings: The enchanting ambiance of the Elizabethan Gardens makes it a popular venue for weddings, with the Sunken Garden and the Queen's Rose Garden being favorite spots.
  19. The Fanciful Play Area: The gardens also feature a play area called "The Fanciful Garden," which houses a collection of whimsical bronze statues delighting the little ones.
  20. Community Involvement: The gardens play an integral role in the local community, hosting various events, including art classes, yoga sessions, plant sales, and more.

As we conclude our exploration of the Elizabethan Gardens, we are left with awe for the beauty and serenity this place embodies. It is more than a garden; it is a tribute to the human spirit, a reminder of the historical ties that bind us, and a celebration of nature's enduring appeal.

As the scent of flowers lingers in the air and the rustling leaves whisper tales of yore, one can't help but feel a part of the grand tapestry of time woven together with threads of history and horticulture. And isn't that the true magic of The Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island?

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