Monday, September 22, 2008

North Carolina Botanic Garden (Chapel Hill, NC)

The North Carolina Botanical Garden, located off of Route 15-501 in Chapel Hill, NC is one of those rare places that can be visited and revisited time and again. The Garden offers a number of hiking trails, as well as a variety of gardens, which can be both spectacular and educational.

One garden, located behind the visitor center (the Totten center) is devoted to plant families. Here you can learn the key characteristics of major plant families, exploring plants from North Carolina and beyond. If you're interested in native plants, the garden has a beautiful ecosystem display, showcasing plants from North Carolina's rare long-leaf pine communities, wetlands and deciduous forest. Also, the garden sells a decent selection of native plants year round. This time of year, you can find beautiful Baptisia (wild indigo) varieties for sale. Particularly useful to people new to North Carolina, is the "what's in bloom" display, located at the entrance of the garden. Here you can find out which native plants are currently in bloom, the display seems to rotate weekly.

Baptisia spp. (Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois)

Finally, for those of you interested in seriously developing your artistic skils or learning about the ecology of North Carolina's native plant, check out the gardens two certificate programs. Classes run year round and are well worth the effort.

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