This beautiful arboretum and botanical garden is a rare find; a must-see attraction that is also free to visit. It's home to hiking and cycling trails, a bonsai collection, holly and stream gardens, and a set of dawn redwood trees believed to be the tallest in the South. Get a sense of the atmosphere in the video below:
The idea for an arboretum in the Asheville area goes back to 1898. Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect behind the famous Biltmore Estate gardens, wished to create an arboretum on the property but never had the chance. Finally, in 1986, the University of North Carolina opened an arboretum in an attempt to make Olmsted’s vision a reality.
There are a number of unique and artistic gardens at the arboretum. Among them is the Blue Ridge Quilt Garden which aims to reflect quilt designs in the Blue Ride Mountains. The National Native Azalea Repository is a streamside garden representing nearly all azalea species native to the United States.
Several big events take place at the arboretum throughout the year. Perhaps the biggest is “Winter Lights.” Distinguished as “Asheville’s brightest holiday tradition,” the arboretum is decked out with elaborate Christmas light displays, a model train exhibit, free crafts, and more! A similar event called “Summer Lights” takes place over the summer, with seasonally appropriate displays and activities.
The arboretum is open daily, including holidays. It's closed during the day on Christmas Day but opens in the evening for its famous Winter Lights holiday light show. Although there is no admission charge to visit the arboretum, you'll have to pay to park your car. Special events such as Winter Lights may also require you to purchase a ticket. Tap the link below for up to date hours, parking fees, and event tickets.
Cover image: "North Carolina Arboretum 10-25-2014 4" by David Ellis is licensed under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).