A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Find gardens in your region. Western      Central      Eastern     Asheville Botanical Gardens From sunny and dry to shaded and wet, the Asheville Botanical Garden features a

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Find gardens in your region. Western      Central      Eastern     Asheville Botanical Gardens From sunny and dry to shaded and wet, the Asheville Botanical Garden features a

29 Beautiful Public Gardens to Explore this Spring

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Asheville Botanical Gardens

From sunny and dry to shaded and wet, the Asheville Botanical Garden features a range of habitats that foster the growth of more than 600 species of Southern Appalachian flora — more than 70 of which are considered rare or endangered. Although every season has its charms, visitors are especially drawn to the gardens during mid-April, when thousands of blooming wildflowers such as trilliums and spring beauties create a dazzling display of color.

151 W.T. Weaver Boulevard
Asheville, 28804-3414
(828) 252-5190

Biltmore’s Conservatory was completed in 1895 and is a year-round tropical oasis. photograph by Charles Harris

Biltmore Estate Gardens

There are many attractions amid the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate, but the property’s gardens, designed by one of America’s foremost landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmsted, tend to captivate visitors’ attention almost immediately.

1 Lodge Street
Asheville, 28803
(800) 411-3812

The Campus Arboretum of Haywood Community College

Local residents are drawn to this college’s varied and exceptional landscape for its productive greenhouses, working dahlia, orchard, and rhododendron gardens, and a mill pond.

185 Freedlander Drive
Clyde, 28721
(828) 627-2821

Cherokee Botanical Garden and Nature Trail

A walk along the Cherokee Botanical Garden’s half-mile nature trail, which winds through mossy rocks and trickling waters, reveals many of the flora of the Smoky Mountains. The garden represents 150 plant species that are identified by their botanical and common names.

Route 441
Cherokee, 28719

Craggy Gardens

Take a pit stop at Milepost 364.4 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 24 miles northeast of Asheville, to see Craggy Gardens. During early summertime, blooming rhododendron thickets line the one-and-a-half mile hiking trail to Craggy Pinnacle, which offers panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

364 Blue Ridge Parkway
Asheville, 28711
(828) 298-0398

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden’s Orchid Conservatory is a five-story glass house filled with tropical plants.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

This outdoor oasis — deemed Carolina’s Garden for all seasons — encompasses 380 acres on the banks of Lake Wylie. It is cherished by nature lovers for its seasonal and perennial gardens, 3.2 miles of walking trails, and five-story conservatory filled to the brim with orchids and tropical plants.

6500 South New Hope Road
Belmont, 28012
(704) 825-4490

Daniel Boone Native Gardens

This peaceful sanctuary within a bustling college town was founded in the early 1960s through a joint effort by garden clubs in Boone and the Garden Club of North Carolina. The clubs wanted to create a refuge for native North Carolina plants to be conserved and studied. Today, the garden’s more than 200 species of plant varieties bloom throughout the seasons.

651 Horn in the West Drive
Boone, 28607
(828) 264-1299

Highlands Biological Station Botanical Garden

Nearly 500 species of ferns, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees flourish throughout the Highlands Botanical Garden, a site for nature enthusiasts to explore plant life by trails and boardwalks that wind through the garden’s natural forests, wetlands, and old-growth plant communities.

265 North Sixth Street
Highlands, 28741
(828) 526-0188

Photo Essay: An Abundace of Azaleas

In the spring, look for honeysuckle, cherry blossoms, and butterflies at the North Carolina Arboretum. photograph by Tim Robison

The North Carolina Arboretum

Located just south of Asheville, the North Carolina Arboretum’s 434 acres of forested coves and spectacular gardens makes this landscape one of the state’s most impressive natural settings. Visitors can follow winding paths that connect bonsai tree exhibits and collections of native North American forest flowers such as bloodroots and fire pinks.

100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way
Asheville, 28806
(828) 665-2492

Merle Watson Garden at Wilkes Community College

Though Wilkes Community College’s campus is home to a number of gardens, the Eddy Merle Watson Garden of the Senses stands out as a landscape that is, perhaps, best appreciated with eyes closed. The garden, which is designed for enjoyment by the visually impaired, includes Braille-labelled plant species plants that are rich in fragrance and texture, along with a semi-relief wall sculpture depicting animals and objects beginning with each letter of the alphabet.

1328 South Collegiate Drive
Wilkesboro, 28697
(336) 838-6491



The Bog Garden at Benjamin Park

Want to explore the wetlands without leaving Greensboro’s city limits? Look no further than Bog Garden. The sounds of Serenity Falls greet visitors as they make their way along an elevated boardwalk that traverses 7 acres of swamp-like terrain populated by a variety of trees, ferns, bamboo, and wildflowers, along with local birds and wildlife.

1011 Hobbs Road
Greensboro, 27410
(336) 373-5888

Cape Fear Botanical Garden

Located just two miles from downtown Fayetteville, between the Cape Fear River and Cross Creek, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden is a hub for special occasions such as weddings and business functions, educational activities for all ages, and of course, beautiful gardens packed with flourishing flowers and ornamental plants.

536 North Eastern Boulevard
Fayetteville, 28301
(910) 486-0221

Gateway Gardens

It’s hard to miss Gateway Gardens, which is strategically located to provide a gorgeous entryway into the city of Greensboro. This recent addition to the city’s expanding collection of green spaces is a six-acre assortment of unique gardens, including the Rain Garden, Walled Pond, Michel Family Children’s Garden, and Greensboro Heritage Garden.

2924 East Gate City Boulevard
Greensboro, 27401
(336) 373-2567

Greensboro Arboretum

From its R.R. Allen Family Butterfly Garden and Fountain to its Beeson Rhododendron Garden, the Greensboro Arboretum is a 17-acre natural gallery showcasing 1,400 distinct varieties of plants.

401 Ashland Drive
Greensboro, 27403
(336) 373-4334

North Carolina Botanical Garden

The North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill takes visitors on a journey across our state. This garden has plant species from the coastal plains to the mountains and almost everywhere in between. The 1,100-acre site contains a rich collection of native plants, from rare Piedmont flowers to extraordinary Venus flytraps.

100 Old Mason Farm Road
Chapel Hill, 27517
(919) 962-0522

Reynolda Gardens-Wake Forest

The Reynolda Gardens — once the estate of tobacco tycoon R.J. Reynolds — is now a 134-acre estate filled with working greenhouses, woodland trails, and rolling meadows. Like the city of Winston-Salem — steeped in rich history and geared toward 21st-century innovation — these gardens artfully blend past with the present: Historic plants grow alongside new introductions, while the best modern horticultural practices are utilized throughout the garden.

100 Reynolda Village
Winston-Salem, 27106
(336) 758-5593

Sandhills Horticultural Gardens

This carefully designed landscape offers a glimpse inside the distinctive natural environment of the North Carolina Sandhills and features 12 major gardens, including the Ebersole Holly Garden — the largest accessible holly collection on the East Coast.

3395 Airport Road
Pinehurst, 28374
(910) 695-3882

Admire the azaleas at Sarah P. Duke Gardens. photograph by Charles Harris

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Visitors that flock to Sarah P. Duke Gardens, situated in the heart of Duke University, often find themselves spending hours exploring the garden’s 55 acres. Five miles of walkways connect the garden’s four distinct areas — the Historic Gardens, the H.L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, the W.L. Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, and Doris Duke Center Gardens. Combined, the areas boast more than 200 colorful plant varieties.

420 Anderson Street
Durham, 27708
(919) 684-3698

Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden

Founded in 1976 to honor America’s 200th anniversary, Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden features seven-and-a-half acres of nature’s handiwork in the form of 50 annual beds. Annuals such as pansies, begonias, and lantanas bring life to the landscape throughout the year.

1105 Hobbs Road
Greensboro, 27410
(336) 373-2199

Wing Haven Gardens

Located in a quiet neighborhood just minutes from Uptown, Wing Haven Gardens not only provides visitors an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, but a chance to admire Southern horticulture and local wildlife. Visitors also have the opportunity to observe the living laboratory of world-renowned garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence.

Elizabeth Lawrence House & Garden
348 Ridgewood Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28209

Seed Wildlife & Children’s Garden
260 Ridgewood Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28209

Wing Haven Garden & Bird Sanctuary
248 Ridgewood Avenue
Charlotte, 28209
(704) 331-0664

Explore the hidden pathways at the WRAL Azalea Garden. photograph by Charles Harris

WRAL Azalea Garden

A television studio may not be the first place that folks think of for flower gazing, but behind the WRAL news station in Raleigh, a one-and-a-half-acre azalea garden brings tranquility and natural beauty to the heart of our capital city.

2619 Western Boulevard
Raleigh, 27606
(919) 665-7157



Airlie Gardens

The roots of this historic garden can be traced back to 1884, when Pembroke Jones, cofounder of the Carolina Rice Mills Company, and his wife, Sarah Green, bought a parcel of land on the Wilmington waterfront along with other members of the community. Today, that land is the scenic landscape known as Airlie Gardens. The garden’s 67 acres feature walking trails that are filled with seasonal blooms and trees, which are home to more than 200 species of birds.

300 Airlie Road
Wilmington, 28403
(910) 798-7700

Bellamy Mansion Museum Gardens

Tucked behind the historic Bellamy Mansion, which was built between 1859 and 1861, is an herb garden that reflects Victorian-era gardening practices. A walk through the garden reveals a variety of herbs — thyme, sage, and parsley, among others — which were commonly used during the 1800s for a variety of purposes, including insect repellants, medicines, cleaning, and of course, cooking.

503 Market Street
Wilmington, 28401
(910) 251-3700

Burgwin-Wright House Gardens

The Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens were built in 1770 and today remain the only Colonial-era structure in Wilmington that can be visited by the public. Designed by two of Colonial Williamsburg’s acclaimed landscape architects — Alden Hopkins and Donald H. Parker — the gardens consist of seven distinct areas that range from the orchard, which is dotted with pomegranate and fig trees, to the terrace gardens, which bursts with Italian cypress and beds of Lenten roses.

224 Market Street
Wilmington, 28401
(910) 762-0570

Cupola House Gardens

Visit the Colonial Revival Gardens of the Cupola House, a National Historic Landmark that dates back to 1758, to browse a collection of plants that represent horticultural practices typical of early American life.

408 South Broad Street
Edenton, 27932
(252) 482-2637

elizabethan gardens

Take a stroll through the Elizabethan Gardens have been a Roanoke Island treasure for more than 70 years. photograph by Emily Chaplin and Chris Council

Elizabethan Gardens

The Elizabethan Gardens contain 10 acres of seasonal plantings and a lasting tribute to the first English colonists to set foot in the New World: A bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth I, the garden’s namesake, and a white marble statue Virginia Dare, the first English to be born in a New England colony, are the garden’s signature figures.

1411 National Park Drive
Manteo, 27954
(252) 473-3234

New Hanover County Arboretum

From its herb garden, which attracts wandering butterflies and zippy hummingbirds, to its Japanese Garden, accented by a tea house and winding stream, the New Hanover County Arboretum has plenty to offer for garden lovers and horticulture enthusiasts.

6206 Oleander Drive
Wilmington, 28403
(910) 798-7660

Outer Banks Arboretum and Teaching Garden

The Outer Banks Arboretum and Teaching Garden not only provides its visitors a place of relaxation and visual splendor, but it also doubles as a testing ground for the investigation and display of planting practices that are most suitable for the Outer Banks’ microclimates. Despite the challenging conditions presented by beach dunes, wetlands, and maritime forests, many salt and pest-resistant plants — a number of which are on display in the garden — thrive in these environments.

300 Mustian Street
Kill Devil Hills, 27948
(252) 473-4290

Weave your way through Latham Garden at Tryon Palace Gardens. photograph by Tryon Palace

Tryon Palace Gardens

Tryon Palace, the location of North Carolina’s first state capitol, is distinguished by Victorian-era landscaping — a nod to the formal gardening style of 18th-century Britain. Its gardens and landscapes encompass 16 acres, which contain traditional arrangements of marigolds and celosia alongside clipped hedges and intricately designed paths.

529 South Front Street
New Bern, 28562
1 (800) 767-1560

This story was published on Mar 16, 2021

Zach Skillings

Zach was a spring 2021 editorial intern at Our State.