Sign Stating Monkey GrassFor most visitors, Cape Fear Museum Park is their first experience of the museum’s interpretive approach to history and science. It complements the exhibits inside while taking advantage of being an outdoor, living environment. The Park is a playful space, but not a traditional playground. It uses the landscape as a teaching tool that encourages inquiry throughout. The landscape was designed with a low maintenance (xeriscaping) approach and smart storm-water management. These elements are highlighted and used as teaching tools on the site.

As a former parking lot, except for several live oaks and shrubs along Eighth Street, much of the site was demolished. Views into the site were preserved for safety reasons. Existing transit (bus) stop on Market Street was maintained and a new bus stop for school and group buses was created on Eighth Street. A portion of the existing pavilion wall was removed, allowing a walkway through the structure, giving the project site greater connectivity to Eighth Street. Pedestrian connections were also made to Market and Meadow streets and to museum parking. Bicycle parking is also provided.

Through the installation of the rain garden, water quality leaving the site was improved by reducing the quantities of oils, suspended solids and other substances reaching the storm water inlet and piping. The rain garden also increases infiltration and helps cleanse the water reaching the ground water table. No traditional irrigation system was installed in the park. By introducing native species, the park has created some habitat and food sources that were not present before. Within a few weeks of plants being installed, we hosted our first site visitors: monarch butterflies. Butterflies enjoy eating the swamp milkweed and caterpillars attach their chrysalis on the Virginia Spiderwort.

Interpretive signage illustrates the natural and cultural history of the Lower Cape Fear region.  This new park space creates an outdoor learning environment that serves as an extension of the Museum educational initiatives and provides a free resource for the community.

Plants Featured in Museum Park


  • Tag Alder / Alnus serrulata
  • Yaupon Holly / Ilex vomitoria
  • White Crape Myrtle Multi-Trunk / Lagerstroemia x ‘Natchez’
  • Black Gum (Tupelo) / Nyssa sylvatica
  • Longleaf Pine / Pinus palustris
  • Turkey Oak / Quercus laevis
  • Southern Live Oak / Quercus virginiana
  • Pond Cypress / Taxodium ascendens
  • Autumn Gold Bald Cypress / Taxodium distichum ‘Autumn Gold’


  • American Beautyberry / Callicarpa americana
  • Rose Pink Camellia / Camellia sasanqua ‘Kanjiro’
  • Dwarf Fothergilla / Fothergilla gardenii
  • Ever Red Loropetalum / Loropetalum chinense rubrum ‘Ever Red’
  • Autumn Embers Encore Azalea / Rhododendron x ‘Autumn Embers’
  • Highbush Blueberry / Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Sunshine Blue’
  • Creeping Blueberry / Vaccinium crassifolium ‘Wells Delight’
  • Purple Coneflower / Echinacea purpurea
  • Carolina Jessamine / Gelsemium sempervirens
  • Lantana / Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’
  • Black-Eyed Susan / Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii ‘Goldstrum’

Ground Covers:

  • American Beachgrass / Ammophila breviligulata
  • Wiregrass / Aristida stricta
  • Swamp Milkweed / Asclepias incarnata
  • Blanket Flower / Gaillardia pulchella ‘Firewheel’
  • Soft Rush / Juncus effuses
  • Path Rush / Juncus tenuis
  • Lily Turf / Liriope muscari
  • Ground Pine / Lycopodium obscurum
  • Mondo Grass / Ophiopogon japonicus
  • Garden Phlox / Phlox paniculata
  • Little Bluestem Grass / Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Prairie Blues’
  • Salt Meadow Cord Grass / Spartina patens
  • Virginia Spiderwort / Tradescantia virginiana