Joslin Gardens

Bill being in Blacksburg this past weekend meant that Ashley and I were on our own for a girl’s weekend!  Years ago, a girl’s weekend would’ve been much different than what it is today, but nevertheless we had a fun weekend.

img_1037First we visited the Joslin Gardens in Raleigh.  The gardens were part of a private residence that Mr. & Mrs. Joslin donated to the city and established the City of Oaks Foundation.  The gardens sit on a 4+ acre lot at 2431 West Lake Dr.  Not knowing what to expect once we arrived, I carried Ashley in the baby bjorn, which proved to be the right choice.  The paths throughout the property were very clear, but narrow.  There is a small stream running through the rolling hills on the property, so we had several bridges and steps to walk on.

img_1038We started the self-guided tour by heading north along the trail through the pine woodland area.  There were several helpful maps highlighting the suggested tours throughout the gardens.  I was amazed at how many plants and shrubs were identified.  We slowly made our way over the rolling hills, across bridges, around the streams and eventually up to the formal gardens next to the house.  The formal gardens were my favorite, maybe because they had the most flowers in bloom, but also because it seemed very whimsical.  The pergolas were covered in vines with new rose buds, the gorgeous irises were in full bloom, and the vegetable garden was in the middle of preparing for a busy summer.

It was pretty amazing to witness all the flowers, plants, and shrubs this couple had cultivated over the years.  It truly is a secret garden in the middle of an enchanting city.

Carrying Ashley up and over the gardens exhausted me, so we headed down to the Historic Oakwood area for an early lunch. Ever since I can remember first spotting the restaurant, I’ve been wanting to try Side Street Restaurant.  It’s an adorable neighborhood restaurant with a great selection of sandwiches and desserts.  Ashley was an angel and devoured her first grilled cheese sandwich.  It was very much the perfect mother-daughter lunch spot!

A lot of what Ashley and I did on Saturday morning reminded me so much of my grandma, Mimi.  Maybe it was the quiet creek flowing through the gardens of the Joslin residence; Mimi was infamous in her neighborhood for having a gorgeous water feature and surrounding it with her neighbors.  Or maybe it was the gorgeous spring weather; Mimi’s birthday was April 1st and until a few years ago, she made an annual trip with my aunt to visit us during this time of the year. Or maybe it was the neighborhood cafe with its white-linen tablecloths and regular customers that Ashley and me had lunch at; Mimi loved getting to know her servers and would’ve loved Side Street’s selection of sandwiches.

For more information about the inspiring work Mr. & Mrs. Joslin have done for the City of Raleigh read about their 2011 induction into the Raleigh Hall of Fame.

Thumbs up: quiet girlie weekends, peacefulness of the gardens,

Thumbs down: wished the gardens were open at the peak of the Camelia blooms

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