University City

Native plants highlight new UNCC garden

The Mellichamp Native Terrace Garden, A new one-fifth-acre display garden within the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, honors the legacy of Larry Mellichamp, who recently retired after 35 years of working with students and the Charlotte community in his role as director of the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens.
The Mellichamp Native Terrace Garden, A new one-fifth-acre display garden within the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, honors the legacy of Larry Mellichamp, who recently retired after 35 years of working with students and the Charlotte community in his role as director of the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. UNCC

A new display garden filled hundreds of Southeastern native plants is taking root within the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens.

The garden, a first of its kind in the Southeast according to designers, highlights native flora and fauna in a home-landscaping style. The botanical gardens will host a ribbon-cutting event for the garden from 4-6 p.m. May 31.

The Mellichamp Native Terrace Garden honors the legacy of Larry Mellichamp, who recently retired after 35 years of working with students and the Charlotte community in his role as director of the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens.

Native plants are experiencing a surge of public interest but are underused by the horticulture industry, said Mellichamp, and this garden will help share knowledge and ideas about how to use them. Another goal of the garden will be to instill in gardeners a concept that the home landscape can contribute to the sustainability of native flora and fauna and to the health of the local environment.

The terrace garden is part of a 3-acre, semi-formal garden with plants from around the globe. The native terrace features hundreds of different kinds of ferns, grasses, flowers and the like.

The design for the one-fifth-acre garden includes wooden and stone terraces, gravel paths and a stormwater-fed stream bed. Hundreds of kinds of plants will be used for ground cover, flower borders, privacy hedges, foundation plantings, native lawn substitutes and a mini-meadow.

“As far as we can tell, this is the first garden at a public institution that shows homeowners how to use native, Southeastern plants in their home landscape to solve everyday homeowner problems,” Mellichamp said.

Edward Davis, horticultural supervisor for the botanical gardens, said a lot of collaboration with local designers went into the planning of the garden.

“The best design we liked combined several different styles so it would appeal to the broader public,” he said. “The big message we wanted to send is, ‘it doesn’t matter what garden style you use, you can still incorporate native plants.’”

Johnson: 704-358-5089

Want to go?

The UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens’ ribbon-cutting for the new Mellichamp Native Terrace Garden will be held 4-6 p.m. May 31 at UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. For details, go to https://gardens.uncc.edu/.

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