Cupola House Gardens

The Colonial Revival Gardens, which surround the Cupola House enhance the house and provide a place of quiet beauty in Edenton’s business district. Donald Parker, a Colonial Williamsburg landscape architect, initially designed the Gardens. His design was based roughly on the second C. J. Sautier 1769 Edenton map. The fencing, arbor and walks were completed in 1975. In 1990, after many different plant materials were unsuccessfully tried, frustrated garden volunteers redesigned the north garden. The new herb beds took their shape from the lower panels of the Cupola House doors, which was also a known 16th century garden pattern. The garden volunteers make every effort to grow plants that could reasonably have been grown here before 1800.

The Cupola House Gardens feature parterres, orchard, arbor, and herbs befitting this historically significant 1758 home.

cupola house

Cupola’s front garden in Spring

cupola house

Cupola House historically inspired Herb Garden

The gardens are featured in Heritage Garden’s of North Carolina and the Garden Conservancy.

Volunteers make a difference in the Cupola House gardens and Frances Inglis, a very special volunteer, leads them. The Cupola House “weeders” meet every Wednesday morning, under the guidance of Frances, to deadhead, prune, plant, and generally maintain the north and south gardens. This group of volunteers is one of the Cupola House’s most valuable assets. Their commitment provides a wonderful oasis for the citizens of Edenton and its many visitors.

Frances Inglis Plaque

Frances Inglis Plaque

In 2013, the Cupola House Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to name the Garden “The Frances Drane Inglis Garden” to honor Frances Inglis for her thirty years of dedicated leadership in the garden, and twenty-five years spearheading the group of volunteers who gather every Wednesday morning to weed and tend the gardens at the Cupola House.

The commemorative plaque hangs on the front of the arbor in the Pleasure Garden.

A supporter of Cupola House activities since the 1950s, Frances Inglis has been the spearhead for establishing the gardens, beginning in 1976. Working with Gertrude Rosevear, who had original vision for the gardens, the ladies began by setting out day lilies along with many types of boxwood. By the mid 1980s, however; so many boxwoods had died that the original design was changed to what we see today, grassy area with a center garden and border flower beds. Visitors may pick up a garden brochure, authored by Frances, that explains the garden plan and lists flowers and herbs found in the south and north Gardens.

In addition to serving as a past Cupola House Association Trustee, Frances has been a mentor of the many “weeder” volunteers and director of all garden activity. Her knowledge of southern gardens and native plants as well as of resources for these plants has been instrumental in the success of our gardens.

Her familiar chuckle can be heard across the gardens as the weeders ponder over a weed(?) or a plant. Frances has the answer to making the Cupola House gardens beautiful. We are certain you will agree as you view the magnificent pictorial record made possible by Mary Kay Coyle, a real expert “weeder” and photographer.

You may enjoy the gardens on your own daily 9 am to 4:30 pm. The house is open through the Edenton Visitor Center, where tickets and guides are available.

Please help us continue to maintain and beautify our garden by contributing to the garden or joining as a member of our Cupola House Association.

Click here to view more garden pictures.

Click here to see our Plant Database


Read about early architectural changes we just discovered.

View a photo gallery of the Cupola House gardens.

View a beautiful UNC-TV documentary on Frances Inglis and the Cupola House.

View a WRAL-TV news report on the Cupola House Restoration.

View a UNC-TV “North Carolina Weekend” video about the Cupola House