Recently my fellow dirt nerd, Sandy O., and I visited the North Carolina Arboretum. It was well worth the trip! We were both a little gaga over the layout and gardens. She was very patient with me as I snapped photos like a fool, and while I would love to share all of the pics I took, you wouldn’t have the patience! So I have tried to whittle it down to a handful of the highlights. As you peruse this post, keep in mind that a “handful” is a relative term!
We started at the cafe! I was starving and knew I wouldn’t last long without nourishment. The cafe is located in the Education Center. The food was tasty and the setting wasn’t too shabby either.
The Entrance Plaza features large containers with seasonal plantings surrounded by three water features representing pools, cascades and waterfalls of Southern Appalachian streams.
The Bonsai Exhibition Garden
The Bonsai Exhibition Garden was amazing. I expected to see a few specimens. I was not prepared for the number of specimens housed at the arboretum. The collection is indeed extensive and is displayed in a wonderfully designed exhibit. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of army was needed to maintain such a collection.
The Art Work
The North Carolina Arboretum maintains a rather impressive art collection scattered throughout the gardens and in the buildings. If plants are not your thing, then the art pieces will hold your attention.
The Quilt Garden
The Quilt Garden, planted seasonally, is best viewed from the stone overlook. But even at ground level, you can see it is a beautiful floral representation of a traditional quilt.
The Heritage Garden
The Heritage Garden features remnants of old homestead sites. The garden includes a water feature, stone foundations and chimney, and plants used in the region’s medicinal herb and craft industries.
The Baker Garden
The Baker Garden features beautiful plant pairings as well as a green roof.
The Baker Exhibit Center
We finished the day at the Baker Exhibit Center/Visitor Center. By the time we arrived, however, it was mostly closed for the day. We were able to snag some maps and brochures which we should have done at the beginning of the day.
A large rain garden is located in front of the Baker Exhibit Center. It catches the runoff from the roadways.
There are so many wonderful plantings as you can imagine. However, it was the grasses that really caught my attention. Perhaps it was because the seed heads were in their full glory.
If you go, give yourself plenty of time. There are many gardens, several of which we did not explore, and there is a full trail system as well. Stop at the Visitor Center first…a mistake we made…to pick up maps and brochures. The “Art Walk” guide is especially helpful for locating all of the pieces throughout the arboretum. You will also find brochures for plant supply sources and birds.
The North Carolina Arboretum is such an extraordinary gift to the people of this region. Its history is fascinating in and of itself, but there is so much to learn and experience there. I will be making multiple trips to see the various exhibits (both permanent and traveling) and to take advantage of the guided trail hikes.The North Carolina Arboretum 100 Fredrick Law Olmsted Way Asheville, NC www.ncarboretum.org It is recommended that you follow the maps and not use your GPS.