Living Here Guide

Charlotte’s gardens are symbols of pride, culture

The newest attraction at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in nearby Belmont is Lost Hollow, a children’s garden. Its centerpiece, Moon Keep, above, resembles the fortified structure of castles from the Middle Ages.
The newest attraction at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in nearby Belmont is Lost Hollow, a children’s garden. Its centerpiece, Moon Keep, above, resembles the fortified structure of castles from the Middle Ages.

Gardens are part of the South’s history, pride and culture. So leaders at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden expected excitement from the community at the opening of Lost Hollow: The Kimbrell Children’s Garden. It’s the newest attraction at the Charlotte region’s premier public garden.

Still, ticket sales at the garden have been better than expected – up monthly by an average 75 percent – since Lost Hollow opened in October 2014, said Jim Hoffman, a spokesman for the Garden. That’s the strength of a family attraction and an investment of about $4 million for Lost Hollow’s 3-acre first phase.

“Moms pushing strollers (were not a phenomenon we had known,” Hoffman said.

Lost Hollow is the biggest attraction to open at the garden since a $10 million glass-and-steel Orchid Conservatory first welcomed visitors in 2008.

Attractions at Lost Hollow are centered around Moon Keep, which resembles the fortified structure on castles from the Middle Ages. Other attractions include Fireplace Cave and a 12-foot aviary, which once housed birds in the garden of the late Daniel Stowe, a textile executive who set aside 400 acres for the botanical garden.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden: 6500 S. New Hope Road, Belmont; www.dsbg.org or 704-825-4490.

Other Charlotte-area gardens:

McGill Rose Garden

940 N. Davidson St., www.mcgillrosegarden.com or 704-333-6497.

Visitors can see more than 900 plants, including about 200 varieties of roses, at this eclectic, gated city park. Henry McGill bought the property, a coal yard along the railroad line, in 1950. His wife, Helen, planted roses over the next three decades, working around the Seaboard Coastline rail car that remains today.

UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens

9090 Craver Road, https://gardens.uncc.edu or 704-687-8622.

The three-acre Susie Harwood Garden provides a year-round horticulture show. The features include an Asian Garden, rocks in many sizes and a pond with waterfalls. There’s also a 7-acre woodland garden called Van Landingham Glen. It’s filled with native plants of the Carolinas and one of the Southeast’s most varied collections of shade-loving rhododendrons.

Step inside the McMillan Greenhouse to see carnivorous and tropical plants, a dinosaur sculpture and the ever-popular orchid collection.

Wing Haven

248 Ridgewood Ave., http://winghavengardens.com or 704-331-0664.

Two gardens comprise the place known as Wing Haven. Elizabeth and Edwin Clarkson developed the first, a formal garden for songbirds, in 1927. The Clarksons preserved their gardens in 1970 by giving them to the Wing Haven Foundation. Brick walls surround the plants, which decorate almost three acres in Charlotte’s Myers Park neighborhood.

A neighbor – writer and garden designer Elizabeth Lawrence – started a much different project outside her home in 1948. Lawrence wanted a living laboratory where she could study plants and practice garden design. A pool is a focal point. Paths along the property make borders for the plant beds. Wing Haven took over the Lawrence property in 2008.

Though modest in size, the two gardens are well-known throughout the Southeast.

Demonstration gardens

Two gardens created by Mecklenburg County’s N.C. Cooperative Extension master gardeners illustrate best practices for growers and plants that thrive in our region. Each has different offerings:

▪ The garden at Freedom Park, 2435 Cumberland Ave., is ornamental, filled with lush landscape plants.

▪ The demonstration garden at Independence Park, 1418 Armory Drive, includes beds for vegetables and others for flowers.

Karen, who covers local news for the Observer, is a former Mecklenburg County master gardener.

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