Airlie Gardens and the Bottle Chapel, Wilmington, North Carolina

Before leaving the next day to meet my friends, I made one last stop at Airlie Gardens. I’m not a formal garden person (though I do love vegetable gardens and also really like botanical gardens) and I certainly would not normally pay to go see one but Airlie is home to a sculpture called Bottle Chapel that I just had to see. Made almost entirely from reused glass bottles, the Bottle Chapel was created as a tribute to folk artist Minnie Evans who served as gatekeeper for the gardens for many years. While I do love the idea of reusing materials, what captivated me when I first came across it during my search for the garden in Wilmington with the Venus flytraps (which I did not see due mostly to my decision to do nothing on my only full day in Wilmington) was the mosaic aesthetic. I love love love mosaics, particularly Roman ones, and I also love love love colorful art. Thus, I was in love love love with this work of art from the first picture of it I saw. It’s possible to spend an hour just admiring all the small details – which I probably did. I now present you with a lots of pictures since I didn’t really want to leave too much out:

Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden with Bottle Chapel, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden with Bottle Chapel, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Bottle Chapel from front, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Bottle Chapel from front, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Another view of the front, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Another view of the front, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Tree sculpture inside Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Tree sculpture inside Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Bottle Chapel from side showing face, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Bottle Chapel from side showing face, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Another face, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Another face, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Mosaic benches and small shrine, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Mosaic benches and small shrine, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Detail of small shrine, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Detail of small shrine, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

View of the bottles inside, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

View of the bottles inside, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Shell fragments and bottles embedded in wall, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Shell fragments and bottles embedded in wall, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Broken pottery and bottles embedded in wall, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Broken pottery and bottles embedded in wall, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Details, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Details, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

More details, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

More details, Bottle Chapel, Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

The gardens themselves actually really impressed me. Laid out over quite a bit of acreage, they feel less like a formal garden and more like a gorgeous place to walk. I admittedly took my time, but it took about two hours to see everything; there are multiple gardens within the landscape of Airlie, each with a different feel and construction, and, of course, different vegetation. One of the things I enjoyed most was the incorporation of sculpture into the landscape and garden beds. It was creative, playful, and really pretty. Another really cool thing was the Pergola garden, which mimics a traditional Italian garden, complete with a lake. Last but not least of my favorites at Airlie was the butterfly garden. I was not expecting that at all and was excited to be able to sit inside the butterfly house while they flew about and landed near me.

Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Oaks and Spanish moss, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Oaks and Spanish moss, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

400-year old oak, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

400-year old oak, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Sculpture amidst the palms, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Sculpture amidst the palms, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Oak with Spanish moss overhanging a pond, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Oak with Spanish moss overhanging a pond, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Turtles sunning on a log, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Turtles sunning on a log, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Pergola Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Pergola Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Under the pergola, Pergola Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Under the pergola, Pergola Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Giant Swallowtail, Butterfly Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Giant Swallowtail, Butterfly Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Orange Supphur (I think), Butterfly Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Orange Supphur (I think), Butterfly Garden, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina