Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The North Carolina Arboretum

Surrounded by the natural beauty of western North Carolina, the North Carolina Arboretum presents a unique combination of attractions to visitors. Biological diversity, green education, arts and crafts, landscape design and woodland strolls are celebrated in the shadow of Mt. Pisgah. The gateway is situated at the confluence of the French Broad River and Bent Creek close by The Blue Ridge Parkway.

The drive to the Baker Exhibit Center is as lovely as The Parkway, winding along the verdant creek side. The Exhibit Center features changing art and craft displays, a gift shop and lovely views of the outdoors. Immediately behind it, the Heritage Garden evokes an Appalachian farmstead and garden. A workshop is furnished to provide students hands-on experiences in old-time crafts such as dye-making from native herbs. Reminders to recycle are everywhere.

Appropriately, the Quilt Garden is adjacent. Seasonal annuals are planted in patterns characteristic of the Appalachian region. Twenty-four planting beds are divided by slate and gravel pathways, affording visitors comfortable strolls among the bright colors. An observation deck above it provides a fantastic overview of the area.

The Stream Garden reminds of the geological wonders that created the Southern Highlands. A stylized stream is planted with a harmonious combination of non-native and native species.

Sculpture is tastefully integrated in the landscape throughout the Arboretum. And though few of us can create or afford works of art for our own garden, there is a lot of inspiration for all of us to be creative, as with this container garden.

A promenade leads from the Stream Garden to the Bonsai Garden. Bonsai, an Oriental horticultural art form, may seem out-of-place in what seems like a homespun setting, but visitors will find examples with a distinctly Southern Appalachian flavor. As they say at the Arboretum, "The quality of the collection and its presentation has attracted national attention, while the promotion of bonsai as being an expression of an individual’s experience of nature, without attaching to it the trappings of any particular foreign culture, is a distinguishing innovation." That's what makes it work in this context.

The Plants of Promise Garden, next to the Education Center, features new selections, old favorites and native flora that show promise for residential landscape applications. It's sort of a trial garden to test plants for the region and similar environments.

Two collections should be well-worth your efforts to view in season: the Ericaceous Collection and National Native Azalea Collection. From them, enthusiasts needing more exercise can find comfortable trails beneath the sylvan canopy. Bent Creek Trail, Rocky Cove Road, Owl Ridge Trail and Hard Times Road form a comfortable loop for hikers.

Unfortunately for you and me, my camera batteries died after a few photographs. Replacements were not available in the gift shop, so I didn't capture as many images as I wanted. But you get the picture.

For complete information, directions, and schedules of events, check out the North Carolina Arboretum web site. I'm certain that one visit will entice you to return often.

Return to goGardenNow.com.

1 comment:

John Blanton said...

I wrote a whole post myself on the Arboretum! I love it