Airlie Gardens was created in 1886 as a private garden for the Pembroke Jones family by Mrs. Jones. The name 'Airlie' was derived from the Jones' family home in Scotland. It was designed as a lush, flowing, naturalistic Southern garden, with thousands of azaleas, camellias, magnolias, palms, and wisteria. In 1999, it was purchased by New Hanover County. Sadly, more than 300 trees were felled by Hurricane Florence in 2018.
Located on the grounds of the gardens are the Mount Lebanon Chapel and Cemetery. The chapel, constructed by Thomas H. Wright around 1835, is the oldest surviving church structure in New Hanover County.
Airlie’s historic property encompasses more than 67 acres of gardens, seasonal blooms, mighty live oaks, walking trails and historic structures. The self-guided walking experience allows visitors to explore more than a dozen gardens; including the Pergola, Minnie Evans Bottle Chapel & a seasonal Butterfly House. The 500-year old Airlie Oak Tree is a Southern Live Oak, draped with Spanish moss.
Airlie Gardens hosts an annual themed art exhibition.
Airlie Gardens is a participating member of the American Horticultural Society and offers reciprocal admission for other gardens, arboreta, and conservatories.