If you are looking for the perfect backdrop for your family photos, then you really don’t have to look any further than Airlie Gardens. It is by far my favorite place to shoot in Wilmington. Spanning over 60 acres and nestled next to Bradley Creek and the Intracoastal Waterway, Airlie provides you with seasonal blooms, live oaks, and waterfront views. It’s large expanse allows you the feeling that you have the entire place to yourself, even on it’s busiest days. Let’s take a walk through….
Airlie Oak Lawn
The 500 year old Southern Live Oak stands tall in the lawn. Draped with Spanish moss and surrounded by bright pink azaleas in the Spring, it’s one of my favorite portrait locations on the grounds. The lawn, providing enough space for summer concerts and wedding ceremonies and receptions, allows plenty of space for your littles to run around and explore.
Often referred to as the Bridal Walk, the grassy aisle that leads you to the Jasmine covered pergola, is a more formal garden. In the Spring this aisle is filled with brightly colored tulips on either side. There’s also plenty of shade to provide a reprieve from hot sun on those warm summer mornings we experience. The ‘Bridal Walk’ leads you to the Jasmine covered pergola where you will find a calming fountain and the Airlie Lake at the end. Keep a look out for the two swans that swim here.
Centennial Plaza & the Butterfly House
Jasmine covered columns and a beautiful fountain give you a calm, peaceful feeling as you walk through this tranquil garden. The Butterfly House, open seasonally, is an open air house located in the Tranquility Gardens and is filled with butterflies native to North Carolina and a variety of seasonally blooming plants. Ending sessions here, allows a breather for everyone as children stop and stare at the beautiful butterflies fluttering from one bloom to another.
This garden is, in my opinion often overlooked, as it’s the farthest from the entrance. In other words, its a bit of a walk. However, in the spring, filled with wild flowers, white and pink azaleas, and flowering trees, it’s one of the most beautiful spots in the gardens.
Airlie is a non-profit organization who’s mission is to preserve the gardens as an outstanding, historic public garden and provide cultural and environmental programs to serve and educate its visitors. For this reason, they do charge a portrait fee of $100 for all 1 hour portrait sessions. The fee is paid directly to the Airlie. If this fits into your budget it is always well worth it as you practically have the gardens to yourself on most mornings.