Stroll through the NC Arboretum quilt garden. Photo by Joan Halbig.
Asheville and the Western North Carolina area are rich in an abundant variety of flowers, plants, trees, bushes and ground cover unique to the area. Many are commonly found elsewhere. Residents and visitors can visit two public gardens: the North Carolina Arboretum and the Botanical Gardens. Both are easily accessible by vehicle and provide a pleasant place to explore the environment. For those interested in seeing this natural beauty firsthand, and learning more about native and non-native species that flourish in the Western North Carolina mountains - a visit to either or both places is highly recommended.
There are many different ways to see the North Carolina Arboretum. Stroll, hike, bike or use technology to lead the way. Everyone will have a different preference for ways to explore this 434-acre public garden. The NC Arboretum is located on Route 191, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, at mile marker 393. Visit the NC Arboretum website for directions.
Enjoy the Bonsai Garden exhibit in the NC Aboretum. Photo courtesy of NC Arboretum.
April 1 to October 31: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. with entrance gates closing at 8 p.m.
November 1 to March 31: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. with entrance gates closing at 6 p.m.
Cost: A parking fee of $14 is charged per vehicle.
Self-guided tours: The Nature Garden Trail is ¾ mile and connects the Baker Exhibit and the Education Center. Enjoy the nature's displays of color and learn more about plants, animals and the environment by reading the descriptive signage.
Guided tours: From April through November, visitors can opt to take a free Guided Trail Walk on Tuesday or Thursday at 1 p.m. There is also a free Guided Garden Walk on Fridays at 10 a.m. These tours are a great opportunity to see other woodland trails and learn more about plants, wildflowers, trees, wildlife and the history of the land usage.
Cell phone (or MP3) Tours: For those who like to use technology to enhance learning, the cell phone tour offers a great deal of information. Visitors who opt to see the NC Arboretum this way may do so at their own pace, connecting to the information via a phone call and/or a download to their smart phone or MP3 player. There are 10 stops for the cell phone tour in the main garden area and all are marked with a sign that says, "Dial and Discover."
Geocaching: With a handheld device that has Global Positioning Software (GPS), visitors can participate in geocaching, a popular new digital 'treasure hunt.' The Arboretum has 10 different geocache sites on the property. Simply request the Geocaching Packet from the staff at the front desk of the Baker Center to begin.
Hiking & Biking Trails: The NC Arboretum has 10 miles of hiking and biking trails for the public to enjoy. These natural, wooded areas border the Bent Creek Experimental Forest. Plan a trip on any of these trails in advance. Visit this page and download a trail map.
The Botanical Gardens at Asheville showcase plants native to the WNC region.
Asheville's Botanical Gardens are an intimate, secluded outdoor environment within the City of Asheville where visitors can see and learn more about the native plants of the Southern Appalachians. The native plant collection includes over 600 species, and over 50 of these are not very common, rare or even endangered.
Visit this page for directions to Botanical Gardens at Asheville.
A half-mile loop trail takes visitors throughout the gardens, which are handicap accessible. See an authentic cabin and springhouse along the way. Take a break in the gazebo or rest on any of the benches provided.
The Botanical Gardens are a sanctuary from the workaday world. Visitors are encouraged to listen to the sound of the wind and the gurgling stream on property while they take in their surroundings. Radios, pets and sports equipment need to be left behind. The Botanical Gardens are a place to unwind, unplug and experience the serenity of the natural world.
The Botanical Gardens are open to the public during daylight hours. Admission is free and donations are encouraged.
Take a well-worn path through the Botanical Gardens at Asheville to see natural displays that change with the seasons.
These two months are ideal for viewing phenomenal floral displays. In addition to many other types of flowers, the Trillium blooms cover the slopes of the mountainside, creating a stunning show of color and natural beauty.
Visitors will see many other types of floral blooms covering the Botanical Gardens from summer through fall. This may include: Blazing Star, Green-headed Coneflower, Goldenrod and Joe-pye Weed, among many other varieties.
For a complete list of blossoms that can be seen during any month of the year, visit the Botanical Gardens website.
Book a cabin in Asheville, close to these public gardens. Cabins are equipped with everything needed and are situated in a woodland garden.