• 79°

Roanoke Island Festival Park named Business Garden of the Season

By Christine Dorsey

If you ever question the beauty of Roanoke Island, and I can’t imagine why you would, take a walk around Festival Park in Manteo, Roanoke Island Garden Club’s Business Garden of the Season for winter 2019. Even when most gardens slumber in the chill of February, Festival Park blooms with berries and blossoms and verdant shades of green.

A tour with executive director of the park Kimberly Sawyer and groundskeeper Otis Sykes is a special treat. Sykes, a self-taught gardener and plant lover, came to the park over twenty years ago from The Elizabethan Gardens. He can tell you the name of most, if not all, of the vegetation on the grounds, along with when it was planted and who, if anyone, donated it.

Festival Park is about twenty-five acres surrounded by the Roanoke Sound, reached by driving, pedaling or walking across the Cora Mae Basnight Bridge. Once on the island, you feel as if you are in a natural wonderland. Sawyer refers to Festival Park as Manteo’s “Central Park.” There are American holly, heavy with red berries, and pyracantha, equally festooned with orange berries. A water area, kept natural, with weeping willows and umbrella plants, with irises in three colors (we have to wait till spring to see them in bloom) settles around a walking bridge.

Sweet bay trees and yew plants and soft pink flowered camellias line the boardwalk. Roses clinging to their late blooms await their winter trim. Not in bloom now, but with their vegetation adding multiple shades of green, are azaleas and oleander. Continue on the path and there are tall sasanqua or yuletide camellias with red petals and joyous yellow centers. Guarding the entranceway to the pavilion grounds is a burgundy loropetalum covered with tiny purple flowers. Inside the gate, besides the breathtaking views of the sound, are fatsia japonica with their white pom pom style blooms, magnolias and a bed of what seems like hundreds of daffodil sprouts peeking through mulch. Leading down to the sound is a tall hedge of Russian olive that smells heavenly in the fall. The grassy area is dotted with oaks, both live and deciduous, maples with small bundles of mistletoe nestled in a branch or two, loblolly pines and bald cypress.

The island is so vast, the plants so varied and beautiful, it’s hard to do it justice in an article.  So do yourself a favor and take a walk or ride to Festival Park, a “jewel” of Roanoke Island.

READ ABOUT MORE LOCAL NEWS AND EVENTS HERE.

RECENT HEADLINES:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is Theatre of Dare’s first Shakespearean production

Somerset Place presents ‘Made from Off the Land’ exhibit

Cape Hatteras United Methodist Men receive special recognition

News

Several speak out against mask requirements at Dare County Schools

News

Federal appeals court refuses to reinstate North Carolina abortion ban

Crime

North Carolina man accused of firing at police substation charged in deaths of family members

News

North Carolina tax revenue soars, $6.5 billion windfall predicted by mid-2023

Currituck

Currituck County wreck results in injuries

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to 18 months in prison for firearm charge

Crime

North Carolina man already jailed for other offense charged in fatal crash

Crime

Man with guns in car on campus of UNC-Chapel Hill arrested

Crime

Virginia man arrested for drug charges after Kill Devil Hills traffic stop

Lifestyles

Outer Banks Community Foundation prepares for 2021 hurricane season, seeks donations

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to over 17 years in prison for cocaine distribution

News

Bill expanding access to North Carolina government worker information clears Senate

News

‘Poolside Pests’ program encourages pool owners to look for, report nonnative insects

News

Kitty Hawk moves closer to new police, fire/EMS substation

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to 30 years in prison for producing child pornography

Hyde

Mattamuskeet Early College High School’s Class of 2021

Lifestyles

Manteo student raising puppy for Leader Dogs for the Blind

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to 10 years in prison for firearm charge

News

Weekly gas price update for North Carolina

News

Piers of the Outer Banks: Rodanthe Pier

Lifestyles

Juneteenth celebration set at Cookhouse Museum

News

Hearing set for proposed Manteo zoning map

News

Water flows again in Avon; boil water advisory in effect

Lifestyles

Dare Day postponed until next year