- 300 Carowinds Boulevard - Charlotte
- North Carolina 28273 - United States
From North Carolina’s mountains through its rich heartland to the state’s coast, there are many common threads. But one that stands out is North Carolina’s fertile landscape. From pre-Colonial days, the people of the state have tended to the land, pulling not only sustenance, but beauty from the soil.
Today, North Carolina gardens are popular spots for travelers. In fact, a person could plan a trip just visiting gardens and spend a delightful week or two in North Carolina.
From famed formal gardens to more modest works of cultivation, North Carolina’s gardens beckon the traveler to stop and take a closer look at Nature’s work.
Here are brief introductions to the state’s Signature Gardens:
Biltmore Estate - America’s largest private home, George Vanderbilt’s incomparable chateau, boasts stunning grounds to match. Millions of flowers wind throughout a series of gardens and terraces, all masterfully planned by Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed New York’s Central Park.
North Carolina Botanical Garden and Coker Arboretum - Enjoyable and informative, the Botanical Garden is dedicated to conservation, education, research and public service. Created by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, its nearly 600 acres feature the state’s native plants. You’ll be fascinated as you move between the Coastal Plain, Piedmont and Mountain habitat gardens. And you’ll want to view the shade garden, fern collection, native perennial borders with rare plants, and aquatic collection.
Old Salem - Thanks to the meticulous recordkeeping of this area’s Moravian settlers, today’s gardens at Old Salem are impressively authentic. In fact, these are the best-documented, restored community gardens in America. The town of Old Salem itself was established in 1766, and its gardens were a source of both sustenance and pleasure to the inhabitants. Today, many gardens have been re-created on their original sites and are planted with the same varieties of vegetables, ornamentals and herbs noted in historic records.
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens - Gracing the West Campus of Duke University are 55 acres of elegant landscaped and woodland gardens given by Mary Duke Biddle in honor of her mother. Central to their design are romantic Italianate Terraces, the only public design of the pioneering American landscape architect Ellen B. Shipman (1869-1950). You’ll appreciate the charm of a wisteria-covered Pergola, the irregular Fishpond and beds featuring changing floral displays throughout the year.
Elizabethan Gardens - At the site of the New World’s first English Colony, a most elegant, stylized garden honors those who vanished without a trace on Roanoke Island. Designed and executed by two of America’s foremost landscape architects, Umberto Innocenti and Richard Webel, the garden’s artful formality befits the grandest English tradition.
Orton Plantation Gardens - On the bank of the Cape Fear River, these gardens adjoin the site of rice fields that once sustained a powerful plantation. Today, peaceful gardens surround the gracious home, which remains a private residence. Visitors may stroll the grounds and enjoy nearly 20 acres of meticulous plantings and natural areas where colorful displays of flowers are rivaled by the beauty of the magnificent old trees.
Tryon Palace Historic Sites and Gardens - The royal governor’s residence and first permanent capitol of North Carolina stood only about 30 years before being destroyed by fire in 1798. Fortunately, the rebuilt palace and its breathtaking gardens have met a better fate. Here, formal Colonial Revival Gardens were designed by Morley Jeffers Williams, an expert in 18th-century landscapes, to reflect the period’s refinement. The Latham Garden is designed in the style of a cutwork parterre with scrollwork hedges defining beds and creating an ornate pattern. Nearby, you can enter the private, open-knot Green Garden. And the Kellenberger Garden illustrates how ornamentals were grown for their decorative qualities while a lovely kitchen garden displays vegetables and herbs.
Visitors to North Carolina’s mountains are rediscovering traditional artisans and art alike, and today they are taking home a slice of the state’s mountain history. Descendents of original North Carolinians still practice their art in the mountain ranges of the state’s western corridor. And each year they welcome thousands of travelers bent on experiencing not only mountain splendor, but also North Carolina’s "living" history.
Native Americans and European immigrants both loved the seclusion of North Carolina’s mountains. But with this isolation came the necessity to create a utilitarian form of arts and crafts. Natives and pioneers built their own homes, crafted furniture, dolls and toys, carved musical instruments, molded pottery and weaved baskets.
These artisans have become a unique asset to the state because travelers can visit with them, get to know them, and watch them do what their ancestors have done for hundreds of years. Just as the traditional museum becomes a living museum, the artisan is a living treasure. And people are discovering these North Carolina treasures.
Asheville’s Grove Park Inn and Biltmore Estate are two examples of such artisan treasures. The two buildings’ construction and architecture work attracted several artistic immigrants to NC; many of whom decided to stay long after the projects were completed. What is the driving force behind preserving these North Carolina treasures?
In many instances, it’s the same force that drove those early artisans – the necessity of livelihood. These folks have created guilds, cooperatives, crafts trails and schools to teach and therefore preserve these skills. Popular destinations include The Folk Arts Center, located just outside Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway and home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, features a wide variety of crafts and offers unique programs designed to bring artisan and patron together.
The Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, is the result of 60 Cherokee craftsmen who organized a co-op in 1946 to help sell their handicrafts. Today it offers works from 300 artists and is one of the nation’s most respected sources for quality Native American crafts.
The John C. Campbell Folk School, in Brasstown, was founded in 1919 on the model of Danish-style folk schools, and continues the craft traditions developed by William Morris and John Ruskin in the mid-1800s. The Craft Shop offers the work of over 200 mountain craftspeople and the Folk School offers over 300 courses in many crafts.
Penland School of Crafts, one of the most respected craft schools in the country, offers intensive instruction in over a dozen different media, including book arts, glass, clay, metal, wood, photography and textiles. Visitors can view finished work, as well as tour the campus.
The Appalachian Heritage Museum, in Blowing Rock, is a living museum, where full-time docents demonstrate skills year-round. It is located in the 1903 home of the founders of Appalachian State University.