by Cathy Halloran, EMGV
My husband and I were in need of a break from our usual, daily Covid-routine of exercise, gardening and deciding on dinner. In pre-Covid days, we would take the Durham-Washington DC Amtrak to visit friends in D.C. One stop we always found curious was Wilson, NC. It didn’t look like a very vibrant town, yet it was an Amtrak stop. So, in late June, we packed a picnic and headed East/Southeast to Wilson.
We suspect Wilson, in its glory, was a prosperous tobacco town. Its downtown is now quiet and sedate. However, on the edge of town is a jewel called the Wilson Botanical Gardens. It surrounds the site of the Wilson Agricultural Center and was started in 2003 with grants to develop a community garden. The gardens are maintained by the Wilson County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers. The gardens were designed to show the diversity of plant materials that can be used in the home landscape, and to educate and entertain visitors.
The garden delivered its intent. There are sections for every interest, from native plants to perennial borders, to trees, ornamental grasses, pollinator attractors, and a children’s secret garden.
The area we found most interesting and educational was how they incorporated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) into the garden. Each STEM sign had a bar code to access more detailed information once one leaves the garden.
The Science section showcased and explained a rain garden and carnivorous plants.
Solar energy and a weather station were used to demonstrate Technology, plus they added an old-fashion human sundial and explained how it can tell time.
A windmill and hydroponic garden were used to demonstrate Engineering. The windmill, when powered by wind, circulates the water in a holding basin where they grow plants.
The hardest area was Mathematics where the Fibonacci Spiral was explained and the use of only three measurements to calculate the height of a tree.
The last section we enjoyed was the Culinary and Medicinal Herb Garden. Each plant was marked with the usual botanical information, then added its medicinal qualities.
If you need an outing where you are surrounded by beautiful plants and trees, and want to learn something and have fun, we highly recommend the Wilson Botanical Gardens. They have benches tucked in shady areas to enjoy a picnic. The garden is open 365 days a year and restrooms are accessible 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. The garden is located at 1806 SW Goldboro Street, Wilson, NC. Masks and social distancing are required.
A map of the garden: