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"Collecting, Conserving, Researching, and Sharing plants for a better world"
When Tony Avent was young, he wandered the woods of Raleigh, NC, observing plants and making selections for his early garden. He began to share this passion with the world, first through garden writing, then overseeing the landscape at the NC State Fairgrounds for 16 years.
In 1986, Tony, and his now late wife, Michelle, opened Plant Delights Nursery. Juniper Level Botanic Garden (JLBG) was built to surround the nursery, first as a trial garden, and later as an ex-situ conservation and propagation garden.
Over the years, JLBG evolved into one of the most significant ex-situ plant collections in the world, and in doing so has hosted and worked with many of the worlds' most brilliant horticultural minds.
In addition to plants, JLBG has been a source of wonder, inspiration, and information to gardeners worldwide. Information from JLBG has been instrumental in breaking down some of the greatest myths of gardening literature and in trialing new plants from around the world, many of which would go on to change the horticultural palette in the U.S. As of 2021, over 1,100 new plants to horticulture have been introduced by PDN/JLBG.
Thirty-five years after its inception (2021), the Avent's have approached typical retirement age. In preparation, Tony and Anita Avent executed legal documents with NCSU and the JC Raulston Arboretum in 2016 to gift their entire 28 acre estate to NC State's JC Raulston Arboretum (JCRA). In accepting this gift, the financial advisors at NC State require Juniper Level Botanic Garden to full fund a $17 million-dollar operational endowment at NC State before this merger can be consummated, unless Tony becomes incapacitated prior to that happening.
JLBG's mission, which focuses on ex-situ plant conservation (currently 27,000 plant taxa), research, education, breeding, propagation, and plant distribution, has been entirely funded and supported by a portion of revenues from Plant Delights Nursery, Inc. The current operational funding level for JLBG is $500,000 annualy. This does not include any overhead, capital expenses, or salary needed for a Director of Operations to replace Tony.
The Avent's well-thought-out plans will ensure a measured transfer of research and plant collections, sustainable gardening methods and staff expertise, enabling NCSU to continue Tony's life work unabated.
We must have your financial help and support as these two global horticultural giants, JLBG and JCRA, merge to create a one-of-a-kind resource for plant research, plant genetics, plant preservation, plant education and appreciation. JLBG's research staff is actively involved in a number of programs including plant breeding, plant taxonomy, propagation research, plant exploration, and ex-situ conservation. The garden contains several still-unpublished new plant species, which will be new to science. JCRA and JLBG combined would most likely hold the greatest collection of plant genetics in the world, which is critical in the face of climate change.
JLBG is currently creating a garden membership support program that will closely mirror that of the JC Raulston Arboretum. This will be but one initial step toward building the operational endowment.
We seek the philanthropic investment of those who share Tony's passion for plants. We must build a multi-million-dollar endowment that will generate operational income to preserve, maintain, and build upon Juniper Level Botanic Garden's plant research, breeding, and garden operations.
The operational endowment will provide the income needed to ensuer that the Juniper Level Botanic Garden at JC Raulston Arboretum will reach its full potential. The endowment will provide for Tony's great work to be continued in partnership with NC State's JC Raulston Arboretum. Our goal of funding a $17 million-dollar endowment is achievable with the suppport of those who share our vision.
By Supporting the operational endowment, you ensure that this world-class resource remains for future generations. Support will ensure the future care of the Avents' living legacy.
Until the endowment is fully funded or Tony Avent becomes incapacitated, few other changes will be visible. It would be ideal if the endowment could be fully funded while Tony is still able to assist witht the transition to NC State and a new management team. Should Tony become incapacitated prior to the operational endowment being fully funded, operations of Juniper Level Botanic Garden and Plant Delights Nursery would be subject to being temporarily closed or scaled back significantly.
Once the operational endowment reaches its goal, the following is planned:
1. NC State's JCRA will hire a full time Director of Operations for JLBG.
2. JLBG will switch from an open house visitation model to being open as a full-time botanic garden.
3. Plant Delights Nursery will remain a division of JLBG, but will switch to a model that only ships plants to JLBG menbers. Non-members will still be able to purchase plants on-site when JLBG is open. Since JLBG's ex-situ plant conservation mission also involves plant distribution, our goal for Plant Delights to remain in perpetuity must be a sustainable component of JLBG.
Future Visionary Capital Changes:
For JLBG to reach its' full potential, after the operational endowment is funded, several capital changes are needed and will become the next focus:
1. Contruction of a visitor center where the current sales area and shipping facilities currently exists.
2. Relocation of the current sales area and shipping facilities to the area along the exit drive, currently used for stock growing greenhouses.
3. Relocate the stock growing greenhouses to the new, yet-to-be-acquired highway right-of-way property to the east of JLBG.
4. Rework the traffic flow to accommodate the above changes.
Fund raising efforts for Juniper Level Botanic Garden operate under the auspices of The Endowment Fund of NC State University, a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax id 56-6000756. You will receive an official receipt for your donation.
For additional information, or if you have questions regarding funding, gifting, and the endowment fund for JLBG, please contact Alycia Thornton, Development Director at NC State University at Alycia_Thornton@NCSU.edu
Checks can be made out to:
NC State University and write "JLBG Donation" on the memo line.
NC Ag Foundation
NCSU Campus Box 7645
Raleigh, NC 27695-7645
Please join Tony and Anita to help us protect and preserve these gardens for our children, their children, and many generations to come.
Anita, Tony, and the JLBG/PDN Staff