Living Here Guide

Gardens are the region’s jewels

The lush, green landscapes and thick tree canopies are as much a part of the region’s identity as its banks and other industries.

Gardens are simply more organized expressions of our esteem for the natural world and urge to provide wildlife habitats. Visit one of the area’s best when you want to see nature in bloom:

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

This is one of the premier garden experiences in the region. Located on a 380-acre spread that reaches to the shores of Lake Wylie, the garden has more than 11 features so far, with much of the land still undeveloped.

The imposing Visitor Pavilion is available for weddings and other special occasions. The Canal Garden – the length of a football field with a fountain at each end – is probably among the area’s most photographed water features in a garden setting.

The Four Seasons Garden illustrates that nature is adept at decorating the landscape with fascinating plant specimens all year. The Cottage Garden celebrates heirloom plants that were traditions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

An 8,000-square-foot glass house called the Orchid Conservatory is a home for tropical plants and a display of changing exhibits.

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(9201 University City Blvd. Greenhouse hours are posted at http://gardens.uncc.edu.)

The 3-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 3 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 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 N.C. Cooperative Extension master gardeners teach visitors best practices and show them plants that thrive in our region. 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. www.mastergardenersmecklenburg.org.

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