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Plant Travels: UNC-C Botanical Gardens

Plant Travels: UNC-C Botanical Gardens

Susie Harwood Garden

This three-acre garden is richly planted with ornamental plants, particularly imported species from China and Japan. Many of these are traditional Southern favorites, including camellia and azalea. The garden also features a hydrangea loop, Dogwood Knoll, a dwarf conifer collection, a butterfly garden, and the Palm Dell. The exquisite landscaping includes a large central pond, several bridges, and a gazebo, interspersed with benches along the pathways (they recommend about an hour to tour this section of the garden).

Be sure to continue to the Asian Garden at the far end (or the beginning, if you can find the East Entrance).

Mellichamp Natives Terrace

Located within the Susie Harwood Garden, this area that “welcomes native plants home” is not to be missed. Designed as a demonstration garden to showcase the beauty, versatility, and ecological role of native plants, this is not a “weedy” wildflower patch. Large brick-edged terraces and stone walkways link well-designed planting beds filled with colorful blooms, grasses, and evergreens like dwarf wax myrtle. The hardscape and thoughtful plant placement proves that native plants have a place in any type of landscape, even formal gardens.

Van Landingham Glen: A garden of native plants of the Carolinas

The map states “The Glen was created in a preserved natural forest of oak-hickory-maple, the oldest trees are about 200 years old, most are younger than 100.” Although you can still hear sounds of modern life if you listen hard, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the forest hush surrounds you as you enter. A quaint cabin, seemingly a relic from the early settlers of the region, stands just a few steps inside the Glen. A placard tells its true age, dating it to the early 1970s, when it served as a professor’s study.

From the cabin, crossing paths give you the option to wander narrow forest paths or take the Grand Loop. Either way, you’ll encounter a variety of native flora, including rhododendron, big leaf magnolia, hardwoods, flowering understory trees, pines, hemlock, ferns, and spring wildflowers. You’ll also find a bog garden, coastal plain area, and small meadow.

As you wander more than a mile of trails over the seven acre Glen, you’ll gain a true sense of the variety and richness of the Carolinas’ native plants.

Overall, the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens beautifully fulfill their mission of “Sharing the World of Plants With People.” 

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