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Best Botanical Gardens

July 19, 2011 8:05 AM

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Historical southern horticulture, as well as exotic blooms and other wildlife, can be found in many places throughout Charlotte. In the city of Charlotte itself, rose gardens, bird sanctuaries and woodland trails, provide a peaceful oasis from the busy, noisy city life of a growing metropolis. Southerners, historically tobacco and cotton farmers, also have a green thumb for the genteel, delicate flowers of brick-walled gardens and greenhouses. Visit the gardens below for a glimpse of these beautiful treasures that enhance the beauty of Charlotte and promote the environmental stewardship of the many nature lovers that call Charlotte home.

University of North Carolina-Charlotte Campus Botanical Gardens

orchid1 Best Botanical Gardens

Photo by Charles Nesbit/Getty Images

The University of North Carolina-Charlotte has the largest and most unique botanical gardens to be found inside Charlotte’s city limits. Located on the east side of the UNCC campus, the diversity of species and cultivars of plants found in more than 10-acres of botanical beauty stimulates both the intellect and the aesthetic in all of us. In the McMillian Greenhouse, which serves as headquarters for the grounds, orchids, desert plants, carnivorous plants, and tropical wonders that can only be grown in a greenhouse can be found. If you’re looking for a long stroll and a true taste of North Carolina indigenous flowers, check out the 7-acre Van Landingham Glen where grows native wildflowers, trees and rhododendrons. Then head on over to experience the intimate, artful Susie Harwood garden whose 3-acres includes a Winter Garden, Asian Garden, Water Garden and amazing rockwork interspersed in the beautiful blooms. The McMillian Greenhouse is open all year round, Monday thru Saturday, 10am-3pm and Sundays, 1pm-4pm. Susie Hardwood Garden and Van Landingham Glen are open 7 days a week, all year round, in daylight hours. For more information, please visit www.gardens.uncc.edu or call (704) 687-0720. For any questions regarding plant sales, guided group tours, workshops or course offerings, please email pmgross@uncc.edu. Admission is free. Please see website for directions and parking information.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

dsbg Best Botanical Gardens

Photo courtesy of http://www.dsbg.org

Located just minutes from Charlotte in Belmont, NC, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a magnificent display of Southern horticulture at its best. Named one of the nation’s 20 Great Gardens in HGTV’s popular book, “Flower Gardening”, the garden sits on 380 acres along the banks of Lake Wylie. Among the 10 acres of manicured, themed gardens are a variety of plants that represent flowers past and present. The gardens include the year-round Four Seasons garden, a tropically-themed Canal Garden, four distinct Perennial Gardens, a nostalgic Cottage Garden, a fragrant Conifer Garden, a spring and fall Azalea Garden, and stately West Gardens. Interspersed among the gardens are twelve delightful fountains and a Woodland Trail. The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is great for getting home-gardening ideas, especially the Perennial Gardens. Also, the Orchid Conservatory opened in 2008 as part of Daniel Stowe’s 50-year plan, which includes a Visitors Center with a stained-glass dome. Whether you’re a nature-lover, in to landscape design in natural settings, photography, bird-watching, or just a horticultural enthusiast, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens has something for you! Guided group tours are available for either the General Gardens Tour or the Woodland Trail Tour by calling (704)829-1252. The grounds are open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors 60 and up,$6 for children ages 4-12 and children under 4 are free. Reduced admission is available for group tours, but you must call to reserve a spot. Please visit www.dsbg.org for more information, to make a reservation or get directions.

Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary

winghaven Best Botanical Gardens

Photo by Russell Illig/Getty Images

Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary is one of the oldest gardens in Charlotte, since Elizabeth Clarkson and her husband Edwin began cultivating a natural habitat for birds and other wildlife in 1927. An emphasis on plantings for birds provide cover, nesting sites, food and water that reflect the spirit and beauty of Wing Haven and its creators. The gardens are enclosed on all sides by brick walls and encompass almost three acres in the heart of Charlotte. Lovely vistas, formal gardens and woodland areas allow visitors to marvel not only at the gardens, but the frequent sightings of birds and small wildlife scampering throughout the property. Elizabeth Clarkson was an early environmentalist and protested the spraying of DDT, an insecticide, by blocking fogging trucks in the early part of the twentieth century. Her interest turned to orinthology in 1930 when she developed undulant fever and was often bedridden. She kept extensive journals about the birds and habitat of the Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary and her journals are available online at www.winghavengardens.com and at the house itself located at 248 Ridgewood Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28209. The Clarksons gave the gardens to the Wing Haven Foundation in 1970 and the Board of Directors preserve the spirit of Elizabeth Clarkson through cultivating sanctuary in nature, environmental stewardship and honoring the legacy of southern horticulture. Hours are Tuesdays, 3pm-5pm; Wednesdays, 10am-12pm and Saturdays, 10am-5pm. Admission is $6 for adults which includes entrance to both gardens and children under 18 are admitted free. Please see website at www.winghavengardens.com for more details and directions.

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