The North Carolina Botanical Garden is a wonderful place to visit on your own or with your family. Admission is free to the N.C. Botanical Garden, located just off Fordham Boulevard, between Old Mason Farm Road and Manning Drive. The garden offers something for nature and art lovers alike, lifelong learners and anyone interested in a quiet place to explore the natural splendor of this part of the state. The garden is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.Tuesday - Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. It is closed Mondays and University holidays. Admission is free. For more information, call 919-962-0522 or email [email protected].
The botanical garden is a much more natural space than you may expect. The winding trails of the display gardens wander through plants native to different habitats within the state, from the coastal plains to the mountains, and the plants are carefully labeled with both their Latin and common names. A circular courtyard has displays of some of North Carolina's rarer species, like the carnivorous Venus flytrap. And more than 200 varieties of sweet-smelling rosemary grow in the Herb Society of America's National Rosemary Collection.
Since the garden is part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, its mission is to educate visitors both young and old. School groups frequently make field trips to the garden to learn about the plant life there. The garden is also home to research on plant life and conservation. Experts teach classes on such wide-ranging topics as drawing from nature, pollination and medicinal plants in the state-of-the-art Education Center. There is a fee to attend these classes, and garden members receive a discount.
Hiking and nature trails
Wear your hiking (or at least comfortable) shoes to explore the miles of hiking trails covering the 88-acre site. Using interpretive brochures and a trail map available at the entrance to the trail, you can easily take a self-guided hike on the clearly marked and color-coded trails. The less demanding Streamside Trail takes you over the quietly flowing Meeting of the Waters Creek, while the Oak and Hickory Trail is a twisting path through towering trees that winds to the top of a steep hill.
Outdoor sculptures created by local artists add even more color and interest to the garden's paths. Turning a corner, you may suddenly see a giraffe formed with copper-colored squares, gigantic metal lilies in full bloom, a bench with a design of fish or any of the dozens of other sculptures on display there. Artists compete annually in the Sculpture in the Garden contest, installing their entries throughout the garden.
The garden hosts events such as spring and fall plant sales, talks by authors and gardening experts, summer camps, the Sculpture in the Garden show and horticultural therapy programs. You can also rent the garden's facilities for meetings, parties or other celebrations.
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