Since the start of Pinehurst Arboretum people have rallied around its protection and growth as a natural space. Community is what keeps it alive and thriving. They take care of the area by cleaning and planting, they walk throughout the natural landscape keeping the space a part of the community. 

Just a few weeks ago a volunteer group, led by my mother, started a cleanup of the Native Pollinator Garden, turning it from winter, with old dried out growth, to spring with bright new green grasses. Community came together to work on something that helps the area stay beautiful and useful for both humans and nature. I can only imagine that the next step is for the community to continue the growth of the newest section of Pinehurst Arboretum, whether from enjoying it or planting new flowers and bushes.

Volunteer Group Posing in front of Debris from Native Pollinator Garden Clean up

Even in the COVID-19 pandemic the natural spaces have been used to convene together. People ride their bikes, play with children and jog through the trails. They gather in these spaces to be together outdoors in unsettling times. One day I even saw a group of senior ladies hosting their book club at the Pavilion. Outdoors is no longer just a space for outdoor activities it is a space for all that come to seek out its beauty. 

A new community event called the Flutterby Festival started in 2019. It was a festival to teach about pollination, butterflies and how they contribute to nature. Unfortunately the Flutterby Festival was not possible during 2020, but it has been said that it will be held this year in September. Bringing the community together with an official Pinehurst Arboretum event for the first time in over a year. At this event I have been asked to speak about Pinehurst Arboretum and I plan to use it as an opportunity to show how the natural space has benefited us as humans, along with the animals.

Myself at 2019’s Flutterby Festival

Over the years there have been lots of more community events, other festivals, concerts, art exhibitions, hikes with friends and those makeup for great memories that you can cherish. I even had my Girl Scout Ambassador bridging ceremony in Pinehurst Arboretum. But nothing is more satisfying than just being part of the community. Helping design a new section of Pinehurst Arboretum, helping fundraise for upkeep or even helping with the upkeep yourself and other people. It makes us a community to care about this natural environment and just spending time in that space is what brings the community closer.

Girl Scout Troop 942’s Bridging Ceremony

Being outdoors is more crucial than ever since it is often the only space majority of people feel comfortable since the COVID-19 pandemic. Natural spaces are becoming gathering areas for all activities and Pinehurst Arboretum provides that space. Along with natural beauty, the fresh air and ability to social distance is comforting for many. These outdoor spaces are the best way that we can commune with each other at the moment. But it also provides a feel into nature and lets people learn to love the space they are in as a community.

Source: sandhillspridenc Instagram, Sandhills Pride after a Hike in Pinehurst Arboretum


Winter is turning into Spring like death turns into life. The new hope and rebirth of the season brings life into the trees and flowers. It is a wonderful excitement to see barren bushes go from leafless to blossoming in a matter of days. 

Pinehurst Arboretum is no stranger to a transformation of the seasons. Having opened in 2003 it has seen a lot. Not only has it changed seasons for over a decade but it has also seen changes of Pinehurst Arboretum’s offerings. From the new Native Pollinator Garden, to the construction of the Pavilion, to all of the growth that the plants have gone through, changing is something that Pinehurst Arboretum is used to.

Spring has brought all sorts of new changes. Birds are migrating back to the north, bees and butterflies are flying through the trees and the weather brings warm hope for the new year. Every year I look forward to the changes that awaits spring, in all its beauty.

Transformations can be slow at times that makes it all the more exciting to wait for the beauty. Pinehurst Arboretum’s Magnolia Garden took weeks to transform into a flowering wonder. Bit by bit you can see the buds develop then start to break free from the hold of the cocoon then open into a gorgeous sweet smelling blossom. Once one starts they all do and soon the Southern Magnolia tree is filled with blossoms that cover the trees branches in delightful petals.

Southern Magnolia Blossom Opening
Fully Opened Southern Magnolia Blossoms

But transformation can be more about the changing seasons, it has formed itself into the creek at Pinehurst Arboretum. One visit to the creek and I saw something unexpected, algae floating in the water, that covered everything except a few sandbanks. It was a rather unusual sight, algae didn’t grow before in this creek and I was disappointed because you couldn’t see any of the plates and pottery that the creek holds. However the algae was a new transformation that while unusual it made the creek look like a sea of floating grass, waving along with the slow ripple of the creek, it was quite extraordinary. Yet the algae did not last as soon as it appeared it disappeared within a week and it hasn’t returned since.

Algae in Pinehurst Arboretum’s Creek

Another transformation at the creek happened at the same time was the shifting of rocks around the creek. While the creek has unnatural shifts because of human and animal interference, this was a natural shift. The transformation in question was the development of a waterfall. Rocks at the end of the creek shifted ever so slightly to change the usual pattern of water flow into a waterfall. The waterfall created the most beautiful picturesque scene with the babbling of the water hitting the bottom it was a transformation into peacefulness.

Waterfall in Pinehurst Arboretum’s Creek

The last transformation I have seen is a more traditional one. Right before the Woodland Garden there is a patch of daffodils and in a short amount of time they have gone from bulbs, to miniature leaves to blossoming beauty. It is the traditional spring that we all see every year. Flowers blossoming is the mark of change into a new season. Those blossoms will be gone in a matter of days but they still show the transformation into a new.

Daffodils in the Woodland Garden
Blooming Daffodils in the Woodland Garden

Destruction and Protection

Nature is slowly being taken away from us. By our own hands we have destroyed the earth with such things like suburbs, shopping centers, and skyscrapers. We have been frivolous with our earth, treating it as it does not matter. But Pinehurst Arboretum has sent out to restore the earth, yet it can only do so much.

Pinehurst Arboretum is surrounded by development. First the Village of Pinehurst City Hall was built, but afterwards development was halted for fear of such destruction of earth. Now after more than a decade of protection, destruction has once again taken hold.

Houses were the first to arrive, not directly on Arboretum property, but close enough to be considered pollution. One such house, a new build, has been dubbed, by my mother, as the “McMansion” for its tacky and expansive style compared to the quaint cottages that previously surrounded the area. Along with houses is the new apartment building named “The Greens at Arboretum. It is a large three story building that is an eye sore to the community. Instead of being immersed in nature when at Pinehurst Arboretum, you stare at the top floor of The Greens. Worst part though is the runoff from local sewers are transported to Pinehurst Arboretum.

With all of this pollution I decided to do my own experiment, not in sight or smell, but in sound. Inspired by Gordon Hempton from “Silence Like Scouring Sand” I observed the sound of Pinehurst Arboretum. Specifically whether or not the majority of sound is human made or made by nature.

For my experiment I went to three different locations, called Sites, in Pinehurst Arboretum. I wrote down every noise, human or natural, I heard within a five minute time span. The sites are far enough apart to get different sounds depending on the location of each site. The sites experimented with are #1 Joyce’s Meadow, #2 The Creek and #3 Longleaf Pine Savanna.

Site #1, Joyce’s Meadow experienced the most sound but unfortunately was almost all human made. In the five minute time span from 4:33 to 4:38 there was only one sound at this entire site that was natural, a bird singing. Human sounds were abundant at Joyce’s Meadow, including dogs barking, a remote controlled car, kids riding on bikes, music playing from a phone, and highway traffic. I included dogs barking as human noises because they accompanied humans in Pinehurst Arboretum.

Site #2, the Creek did have less human sounds but still almost no natural sounds. From 4:45 to 4:50 I observed the creek and the only natural sound was the wind whistling in the trees. Other sounds included a rattling stroller, the sound of bikes going over a wooden bridge and gravel, kids yelling and again highway traffic.

Site #3, Longleaf Pine Savanna did not have an increase of natural sounds, but the site is further away from human inhabited areas so it feels less like it has human intrusion. Yet, it had human sounds mostly from far away on the highway, cars and loud motorcycles can be heard even when the highway is far from the Longleaf Pine Savanna. All of these sounds were observed from 5:03 to 5:08 and the entire time the cars on the highway were background noise.

All of these observations are important because it shows that in Pinehurst Arboretum it is impossible to have complete silence and be completely immersed in nature. Even if there is no human noise within the confines of Pinehurst Arboretum, the highway nearby has constant traffic so noise is always near the Arboretum. It detracts from being able to hear nature because every other sound is what you focus on as opposed to a bird that is singing. 

When going to a natural space, you can’t control other people’s noise but you can control your own. And when going into a natural space like Pinehurst Arboretum try to experience nature making as little sound as possible to see what nature would really be like without human interference.

Native Natural History

The Sandhills and Piedmont regions of North Carolina have rich biodiversity that should be recognized. The natural beauty is something that you do not see every day, let alone in one place. But Pinehurst Arboretum is home to many natural native plants in its small thirty-five acres. 

Map of the Sandhills Region in North Carolina

The native plants in Pinehurst Arboretum were especially chosen because they were natural to the space being developed for use. Some plants and trees such as Southern Magnolias, were already on the property of the Arboretum when designed. Others that were planted, grew into their natural space, but all plants are native to the region in which Pinehurst Arboretum resides. 

The divided sections of Pinehurst Arboretum, that I mentioned earlier, all have specific native plants that grow in the certain section. The Magnolia Garden obviously has Magnolias, but there are a variety of Magnolia trees, not just the Southern Magnolia. The Flowering Tree Garden, true to its name, has flowering trees of all varieties, dogwoods, witch hazel, and peaches, all live here. The Longleaf Pine Savanna was renewed after a fire. It is home to an abundance of longleaf pines as well as many native types of grass including, switchgrass and wire grass. While the fire destroyed the original longleaf pines, every three to five years there is a controlled burn to help with debris and promote growth in the natural environment. If you look closely at some of the longleaf pine trunks you can make out burn marks from years past. 

Pinehurst Arboretum’s Longleaf Pine Savanna

All of the native plants were chosen for a reason. When designing Pinehurst Arboretum, Larry Best, founder of the award-winning design firm LandDesign, used the natural space and researched the Sandhills and Piedmont regions. This allowed him to develop and design Pinehurst Arboretum with a focus on the natural environment that was already in the natural space being used as Pinehurst Arboretum. The majority of the trees in the Magnolia Garden were already present when designing the Arboretum. With the Southern Magnolia trees already there they used the native natural plants as a sign to create an area specifically for Magnolias and other trees and plants that were already on the land. Instead of designing Pinehurst Arboretum to be highly groomed, Larry Best designed it to be of use to the already existing natural space and added on only what was a native plant. He created Pinehurst Arboretum to be natural and to use native plants.

Pinehurst Arboretum’s Magnolia Garden

There is even a space of native plants that are dedicated to helping wildlife. The Native Pollinator Garden is a space that is certified as a National Wildlife Habitat because of its use for animals and insects. The native plants provide shelter and food for butterflies, bees, and other insects. And with the Garden being all native plants, it helps the insects because the native plants are what butterflies and bees find in an uncontrolled natural environment.

Nature in Pinehurst Arboretum, while controlled in some areas, has been driven by the decision to include native plants. Making it a natural area for all to come and enjoy, full of native plants that provide benefits to animals and humans alike.

Feeling A Part/Apart

Walking through Pinehurst Arboretum has always felt special. Every season comes with change and everything feels unique each time. You never know what you will experience. Yet the feeling of the Arboretum, while I took a closer look, has been divided into two, being a part and feeling apart. 

I’ll tell you a story. Pinehurst Arboretum was once a landfill, filled to the brim with plates, glass ware, pottery as well as more assortments of discarded items lost in time and dirt. Yet these items have become a part of the Arboretum. They make up land while stacked between dirt, mud and sand. They are essential to the structure of the creek as much of the items have fallen into the water and in a way become stones. While they hold the integral structure of the creek, compacted with the dirt, they haven’t changed in any way. And while they are a part they also feel apart. All the pottery and glass have been in the Arboretum for decades but they stand out on their own. Apart is what they feel like when they are separated from the earth, from the nature they have been in. When this happens items are not really a part of a whole. But with them crushed into earth they are a part, they feel a part. And that is what matters.

Vine Growing Through Broken Glass Bottle

When I went to Pinehurst Arboretum I felt the same as the plates, pottery and glass. I felt a part of the land and yet I was not, instead I was apart. I was there in Pinehurst Arboretum, I was a part of the whole natural experience but I was only viewing it from the outside in. How can I become one with nature if I am always an outsider? How can I be a part while feeling apart?

Nature is supposed to be immersive. After all humans once came from nature, we used to live with the land, used to be one with nature. But now we have domesticated ourselves. We no longer rely on nature, so we feel apart. 

Childhood Favorite Space, Point Pavilion overlooking Joyce’s Meadow

Pinehurst Arboretum is nature where I am immersing myself in for the upcoming weeks. While I may not feel a part of nature now, I hope to feel a part of nature in the end. To feel close to the earth that gives humans life. To feel like I belong in the space and am not just an outsider or an invader. Immersion in nature is essential to our livelihood, yet humans have moved so far away from natural thinking and feeling. We forget our past connections to nature and what nature has done for us. 

With this feeling of being apart I want to feel as if I am a part of Pinehurst Arboretum as a whole. If I can become a part of Pinehurst Arboretum, then I will have truly connected with the natural space that was given to me, that surrounds me. Helping me to see what nature is fully capable of and the true beauty of nature will be Pinehurst Arboretum.

The Creek, my favorite place in Pinehurst Arboretum

Pinehurst Arboretum

With over a century of history, Pinehurst and its community has changed through the decades. One of the ever changing spaces is Pinehurst Arboretum.

What once started as a landfill from Pinehurst’s early days in the early 1900s to as recently as the 1970s, has changed, developed and transformed into a natural space for the entire community’s pleasure.

And while I do not have family history tied to this space as so many other spaces do, I feel a personal connection to this land.  From an early age I was exposed to this developing space and helped with the many projects that made the Arboretum what it is today. All because my mother was on the Village Heritage Foundation Board of Directors, which developed the  Pinehurst Arboretum.

Map of Pinehurst Arboretum

Pinehurst Arboretum was started in 2003 after concerns that human growth in the village would take over natural spaces. However, Pinehurst Arboretum wasn’t always a perfect natural space. Once an overgrown unusable landfill with remnants of a burned longleaf pine forest, has been designed into a space where humans and nature can interact with each other and where humans can grow an appreciation for nature. Melding human-made spaces, revitalized forests and natural woods into one. Featuring native grasses, flowers and trees, Pinehurst Arboretum is a unique space with different sections that each boast different parts of the Sandhills.

Joyce’s Meadow, the Pergola Garden, the Magnolia Garden, the Flowering Tree Garden, the Longleaf Pine Savanna, the Woodland Garden, the Native Pollinator Garden, and the Pavilion are all part of the Pinehurst Arboretum. Put together, they are a large natural space, apart they feel like their own worlds, yet are a part of something greater, something that would be a mix of natural and human, that the community has come to love.

While I will be covering the individual sections, I want to highlight one section in particular in my first entry. One of my personal favorites is Joyce’s Meadow, a wide grass space, surrounded by trees and bushes. Joyce’s Meadow, named after the founder Joyce Franke, hosts many events throughout the years, including concerts and weddings, but it is mostly the space of picnics and family gatherings. Wide and open to the sky above, I have spent countless hours here flying kites with my family and playing pickup games of lacrosse with my sister. It is a joy to come here and see the community bond over the use of this particular space.

Joyce’s Meadow

Before the COVID-19 pandemic activities such as art exhibitions, concerts, weddings and festivals have been held at Pinehurst Arboretum. Attending such events not only brought the community together but also allowed and invited guests to explore the natural world they are in. Weddings became a mix of human and natural. Art exhibitions were enhanced by a natural setting to display art. Concerts were held under the stars as music filled the natural space. 

Everything about Pinehurst Arboretum has astounded me… its past, its present, its future. Now the natural world is a part of my village.