UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens Help Bring Aesthetic Beauty to the Queen City
Located on the east side of UNC Charlotte’s campus, the Queen City’s main public 4-year institution. The UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens complex is comprised of 10 acres of outdoor gardens, and consists of 3 main areas – the McMillan Greenhouse, the 3-acre Susie Harwood Garden and the 7-acre Van Landingham Glen, all located together. Each garden offers something unique. All exist to promote the knowledge and appreciation of plants for educational, environmental and aesthetic purposes for university students, and Charlotte, NC visitors, alike.
A Biology professor cultivated the gardens in the mid 1960s, with financial support from members of the Queen City community. The original intent was for them to be a living classroom for field-based Biology courses. Over the years, they grew to become a horticultural resource for the general public.
Each garden contains a wide variety of plants. The McMillan Greenhouse contains exotic species year-round, including carnivorous plants, desert plants, orchids, spice and fruit plants, tropical ferns, vines, flowers and shrubs. The Susie Harwood Garden also contains year-round species, including camellias, azaleas, water plants, Japanese maples, winter-blooming plants, late-blooming perennials, spring bulbs and flowering plants, a mosaic patio and an Asian garden. The Van Landingham Glen’s best blooms include rhododendrons and wildflowers, which occur in early to mid-spring. The Glen has a woodsy atmosphere, home to many native plants, which may also be appreciated year-round.
The Charlotte, NC university botanical gardens are open to the public, so visitors from outside campus are welcome. Admission is free, and the university accepts and encourages donations, as well. The garden hosts visitors from all over the U.S. and the world. It is also home to several plant societies and a local garden club. While the gardens do not currently facilitate large events, weddings or receptions, it has hosted several small gatherings or ceremonies, on occasion.
Classes at the university use the gardens for a variety of purposes. For example, several Plant Biology courses are taught in the greenhouse classroom, to facilitate the hands-on exploration of plant life. Art classes and writing classes use the outdoor gardens for inspiration. Photographers in the Queen City may also draw inspiration from the beautiful plant life.
The gardens host a variety of events, from workshops for kids who are interested in learning about plants, to short courses in plant study for university students. Anyone who enjoys visiting the gardens and greenhouse can become more involved in several ways. Become a "Friend of the Gardens" through a paid yearly membership and receive special benefits including discounts on plant purchases and workshops, a monthly e-newsletter, and use of the facilities for meetings or events. You can also volunteer as a Sunday afternoon host, welcoming visitors to the greenhouse on Sunday afternoons, or you may volunteer to work with one of the gardens’ horticulturists each week. In addition, you may become a member of the Advisory Council of the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, which meets 2-3 times per year, to help the city of Charlotte, NC carry out the gardens’ Mission.