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Master Plan

Centerpiece of the JCC Arboretum
Designed by JMCCLURE Designs, Inc.

Southern gardens … the very words conjure images of warm, fluid days, rambling flowers, the shade of porches, scents of roses and old-fashioned blossoms, vivid colors, the sound of birds, the hum of bees and flit of butterflies ….

With the support of the Johnston County Visitor’s Bureau, JCC Arboretum undertook a year of study to investigate the next phase of the Arboretum. We mailed out surveys, interviewed residents, chatted with visitors, worked through a Strategic Plan with the Arboretum Advisory Committee, and afterwards, chose the centerpiece of the Arboretum: a “Southern Garden.”

We employed an anthropology student to conduct a literature search for us to document the ‘roots’ of Southern gardens. This summary formed the basis of formal bids sent to area architects and landscape designers to take the information and design a garden based on historical research and area surveys. To that end, a design was chosen and we are in the installation phase of this exciting addition to the JCC Arboretum.

What ‘is’ a Southern Garden?

A southern garden is actually a fusion of the various cultures that have lived, settled, worked and played in the south. It’s a blending, an amalgamation of the contributions of its settlers, the choices made by them of what to keep and what to clear on the landscape, what to emphasize and what to ignore, the preferences and predilections of settlers, immigrants and ancestors of this region -- all tempered and influenced by climate and weather, soil and water.

The Southern Garden Design as approved by the Arboretum Advisory Board and JCC Board of Trustees was designed and awarded to Jeanne McClure of JMCClure Designs. Jeanne and her company take a multidisciplinary and ecological approach to design. One special feature of her company is their creative and intricate use of themes, particularly if those themes are research-based, to create one-of-a-kind, unique, ecologically and horticulturally correct, garden space.

Following a career in Multimedia Design, Jeanne enrolled at NCSU to study Horticulture and Landscape Design. Her interest in Landscape Architecture and Natural Resources, coupled with her background, influence her landscape designs so that she is able to capture the use of mixed media on paper while creating unique garden spaces that are not simply aesthetic, but also show 'good land stewardship.' In Jeanne's words, "Research is a big part of the design process as well understanding the client's wants and needs. Being able to have a harmonizing understanding of the environment in which the design will be implemented is crucial to our design philosophy."

Jeanne, along with the Arboretum staff, worked together to synthesize the research we conducted on southern gardens and cultural history to create a unique garden centerpiece that embraces the goals of the college, the Landscape Gardening Program, our agrarian roots and those unique aspects that make our gardens ‘Southern.’


The JCC Southern Garden

Aspects of this garden can be summarized:

  • The Tree Alee – French and Spanish Formality
  • Themed Gardens are placed into four distinct quadrants that are shaped (on the ground) like the symbol of the state of North Carolina: A dogwood blossom
  • It incorporates our Southern history and roots of our agricultural crops and gardening traditions
  • It incorporates the contributions to our Southern heritage: Native American, European, African
  • One quadrant emphasizes the plants from the Southern gardens of those residing in Johnston County along with their stories and histories, and thus not only is a public relations opportunity, but a ‘contribution’ from the community with their own plants and stories. This is the Pass Along Garden with influences from the English and German. We are asking all gardeners in our area, if they wish, to contribute a plant from their own gardens to help us ‘grow’ this portion of the Southern Garden.
  • A second quadrant focuses on the formal gardens of our Southern heritage, thus extending the patio area to accommodate outdoor functions in a refined garden setting. Influences here are from the French and Spanish, Greece and Italy.
  • The third quadrant focuses on drought-tolerant perennial plants and is basically completed. This quadrant emphasizes the climate and weather changes we are experiencing.
  • The fourth quadrant focuses on ethnobotanical plantings (how people use plants), a focus different from any of the other public gardens in our region and encourages education in culture, global education, history, botany, landscaping, wildlife, ecology, economics, etc.
  • Plants chosen for the quadrants will be based on historical and literature references, availability, appropriateness for our zone, climate, soil, weather and appropriateness for proper maintenance and aesthetic appeal.

To date, we have the perennial gardens just about complete. We have graded the entire area to improve drainage, and we have begun building the beds in the formal garden. It is a most exciting time for all of us.

If you would like to contribute to this project with your time, money or plants, please let us hear from you. We hope to begin installing plants in the formal beds this fall.

We will also begin an annual ‘Southern Symposium’ so look for that with our lecture series offerings as we develop this aspect of the Southern Garden as well.

We truly believe that once completed, this garden will be a major attraction for Johnston County and North Carolina. It will become a garden for and by the community.

Won’t you join us?

Contact us: (919) 209-2052 /

  1. Arboretum building
  2. Entry and exit drives
  3. Entry garden
  4. Courtyard, Kitchen garden, Healing garden, Storage
  5. Terrace
  6. Mall within elm allée
  7. Children's garden
  8. Deciduous shrub garden
  9. Perennial garden
  10. Conifer and dry site gardens
  11. Old South garden
  12. Storm drainage demonstration
  13. Pond with bridge
  14. Gathering place
  15. Garden reserve
  16. Woodpecker foraging
Arboretum Master Plan, part I

Arboretum Master Plan, part II
  1. Visual access to main campus
  2. Crape Myrtle garden
  3. Ornamental grass and water garden
  4. Japanese maple garden
  5. Magnolia garden
  6. Native shrubs and camellias
  7. Small flowering trees
  8. Turf grasses
  9. Large tree promenade
  10. Rose garden
  11. Mixed American border garden
  12. Greenhouse area
  13. Demonstration yard
  14. Shade garden
  15. Azaleas and rhododendrons
  16. Parking


Landscape Architects:



    • Dan C. L. Sears, ASLA , CSI

    • Mark Hall, ASLA

    • Kevin B. Kahler, ASLA

  • Wesley M. Coble, AIA
    Architect for the Arboretum Building

"In order to live off a garden, you practically have to live in it."

Frank McKinney Hubbard

PO Box 2350, Smithfield, NC 27577
(919) 209-2052 / (919) 209-2517
Fax: (919) 209-2557

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