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Roses & sunflowers: summer blooms in Raleigh, N.C.

Hey, Raleigh. Summer looks good on you. 

These two patches of flowers in North Carolina’s capital are a great break from the everyday scenery of interstate travel and city buzz.

The Sunflower Field at Dorothea Dix Park

Dorothea Dix Park has a lot of cool things going on. They have events like SunFest, yoga in the park and a bug safari. I don’t really know what a bug safari is, and I don’t really want to find out. So let’s stick with the sunflowers. SunFest, a festival with arts, crafts, food trucks and more, is actually hosted in the flower field. To find out more about this event, click here

While the sunflowers are a fun attraction for those willing to beat the heat and risk a bee sting (not kidding), they actually serve a greater purpose. I’m no sunflower expert, but apparently they can be used to create biodiesel, which can be made into fuel for tractors and such. So they’re pretty with a purpose. 

But what’s really fascinating about Dorothea Dix Park is the history. Dorothea Dix was a champion of better treatment for the mentally ill in the 1800s. She started out as a school teacher, but after having some health issues, she hightailed it to England. (Because who wouldn’t? I hear scones fix everything.) There she gained a new perspective on how to treat the mentally ill and took a job at a prison where she documented the treatment of the insane. She later became a nurse and was influential in bringing about mental illness hospitals in both Europe and America. 

Now sunflowers sit on the site of the old Dorothea Dix Hospital grounds. The 150-year-old hospital left behind remains now inhabited by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, which in my opinion gives it a creepy kind of feel.

This didn’t help when I got lost in the park trying to find my way out. But I have a track record of getting lost… two hours out of the way of my final destination. That’s for another blog post. 

So kudos to you Dorothea. You deserve all the sunflowers (& biodiesel).

The Raleigh Rose Garden

Tucked behind the Raleigh Little Theatre lies a delicate gem. Showing off all year round, the Raleigh Rose Garden is open seven days a week to the public and available for private events. 

Perhaps it’s because I’m a romantic at heart (ha!), but I think this is one of the dreamiest spots in all of Raleigh. But it also makes me want to throw on a cocktail dress, act all highfalutin and argue over politics at a garden party. Raleigh has that effect on people, I guess.

The garden is filled with rows and rows of all sorts of, well, roses. They also have several benches surrounding the garden perfect for relaxing while you catch up on some poetry. I feel like that’s the kind of thing you do in rose gardens. 

Does it sound so good you want to go there now? Take a virtual tour of the garden here, but trust me, it’s WAY prettier in person. And go ahead and mark your calendar to attend Art in the Garden, an event full of art and food trucks. 

To learn more about the history of the Raleigh Little Theatre and Raleigh Rose Garden, click here

Do you have any favorite outdoor spots in the Triangle? Comment and let me know!



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