Conventional wisdom advises that habits are ingrained after 21 days of repetition. If that theory holds true, then the eat~play~shop local habit requires time and effort to develop. Each month I’ll share “21 Days” of some event, place or organization in the Triangle, enabling (and I mean that in the most positive sense possible) your inner Localista to come out and join us. This month it’s all about the great outdoors in the Triangle – parks, trails and green spaces under blue skies. So brush up on your trail etiquette, lace up those shoes, slather on the sunscreen and join us for some fresh air and fun times.
As a part of UNC Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Botanical Garden aims to educate about native plant conservation in the Southeastern United States. While the garden is comprised of more than 1,000 acres, ten acres of display gardens and an education center are easily accessed via the main visitor site, located off of Old Mason Farm Road in Chapel Hill.
The display gardens found on the main site interpret the plants and vegetation of North Carolina and includes perennial borders, native water gardens, a carnivorous plant garden, a garden of flowering plant families, a coastal plain habitat, an herb garden and many other specialized gardens. The winding paths convey visitors from garden to garden where one is transported from one grouping of plants with a tropical theme to an Appalachian forest floor thick with ferns. Adding to the lush landscapes are sculpture and architectural features interspersed throughout. Each year the gardens host a Sculpture in the Garden exhibition and this year’s event will kick off in late September.
The platinum level LEED certified Education Center at the heart of the gardens houses classrooms, auditorium, an exhibit hall with a botanical art and illustration gallery, a plant sale area and gift shop. Be certain to stop inside the center for more information about the garden, including how to become a member.
Once you’ve wound your way through the gardens (or perhaps before) you can take a hike on the nearby Piedmont Nature Trails. The two mile trail includes a couple of different loops through a the forest landscape and complements your visit to the NC Botanical Gardens nicely.