After post-Florence cleanup, Airlie Gardens to reopen Nov. 1

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More than 300 trees fell at the New Hanover County attraction during and after the recent hurricane

WILMINGTON — Airlie Gardens will reopen to the public Nov. 1 after the New Hanover County-run attraction underwent an intense cleanup after Hurricane Florence.

Tara Duckworth, director of the county parks and gardens department, said tree crews and volunteers have worked every day since the storm to clear more than 300 downed trees and hanging branches from the gardens.

The lingering damage is mostly contained the the gardens themselves, where camellias and azaleas took the brunt of the fallen trees, she said. The lawns also suffered damage, not from the storm, but trucks and equipment handling the cleanup process.

Duckworth said the gardens usually have winter/spring projects to handle, but this year it will add a few more to the list to spruce up the gardens after Florence.

“Next spring, we are planning to do a tree canopy, and begin rebuilding our camellias and azaleas,” Duckworth said. “We will be putting the rye grass in then as well, so it will be green and lush. By spring, we will be ready for the brides and the visitors.”

Duckworth said staff is looking at the restoration as a positive, as it will allow them to introduce some new, more traditional Southern garden elements into the attraction.

The gardens still have a big holiday season ahead. “Enchanted Airli”e will go on as planned, starting Nov. 23 and open select days through Dec. 22.

The first night is already sold out, but tickets are on sale for other nights. Visit for tickets and a complete schedule.

For residents who want to check out the rehabilitated Airlie Gardens, the monthly free day for county residents is Nov. 4.

Reporter Hunter Ingram can be reached at 910-343-2327 or