Spring is one of the best times to visit botanical gardens in NC — once the snowy winter fun ends and the temperature begins to rise, streets are lined with blooming trees. Families who are eager to spend time outdoors and to breathe in the fresh spring air love visiting NC gardens. From coastal Carolina treasures to the ever-popular Duke Gardens to gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountain blossoms, there’s sure to be a botanical garden in NC for you!
Please note that the hours and availability of these botanical gardens in NC may vary due to COVID-19. Please call or check the websites for updated information.
Airlie Gardens has a long, rich history dating back to 1884. At this time, Sarah and Pembroke Jones purchased the property and turned it into a beautiful garden. Pembroke named the garden “Airlie” after his family home in Scotland. Sarah Jones developed lakes and curving garden pathways lined with trees. She was dedicated to the land and even brought in a renowned horticulturalist from Georgia for azaleas and camellias as well as a German landscaper to help design and maintain the gardens.
In 1999, the county purchased the 67-acre garden. With constant upkeep, the spectacular gardens are thriving and open to public visitors today. Guided tours are available and children can participate in Airlie’s Environmental Education Program.
As spring approaches, the gardens come alive with over 60,000 tulips and over 75,000 azaleas. Each April, Wilmington hosts the Azalea Festival in honor of these blooming beauties. The festival includes an art fair, concerts, garden tours, and the “Queen’s Luncheon”.
Arborcrest Gardens covers more than 25 acres of beautifully maintained gardens. In addition to the stunning florals, visitors can enjoy the vegetable and fruit gardens. In the springtime, Arborcrest Gardens showcases a plethora of bright and colorful bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Alongside these bulbs, you’ll find flowering trees such as crabapples and magnolias as well as an incredible display of rhododendrons.
This garden is nestled just inside the city limits of Boone at an elevation of 3,366 feet. Arborcrest is dedicated to researching and evaluating plant growth in the local climate.
Biltmore Gardens — Arguably The Most Beautiful Botanical Gardens In NC!
The grounds of Biltmore offer acres of both formal and informal gardens. In the early spring, blooms include forsythia, magnolia, flowering cherries, dogwoods, and Darwin hybrid tulip varieties. Late spring blooms include poppies, snapdragons, azaleas, and pansies. The rose garden is a magnificent site with over 250 rose varieties.
Horticultural experts at the Biltmore work tirelessly to honor the original vision for the gardens. Famed landscaper Frederick Law Olmsted laid out beautiful plans for breathtaking scenery on the Biltmore grounds. He even created the country’s first managed forest.
While visiting Biltmore Gardens, be sure to check out the 20+ miles of trails. Scenic pathways will take you along the French Broad River, through enchanting forests, or across serene meadows.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
With over 110 acres of picturesque gardens, the mission of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is to “instill a love of nature and its beauty”. It certainly achieves that goal! The garden is stunning year round, but should not be missed in springtime.
This one is perfect for the little ones as Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden includes a children’s garden within the Visitor Pavilion. Other popular exhibits include the Dry Piedmont Prairie, dazzling water fountains, and a conservatory with tropical plants and orchids on display.
The Visitor Pavilion is a sight to see of its own. The 13,500-square-foot pavilion is covered by a spectacular 100 year old stained glass dome.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
A 55-acre public Sarah P. Duke Gardens located on the grounds of Duke University, Sarah P. Duke Gardens is an award-winning attraction. The gardens were named one of the top 10 gardens in the South by Southern Living Magazine. They’ve also been recognized by tripadvisor as one of the top 10 public gardens in the US.
This breathtaking garden is open from 8:00 am until dusk 365 days a year. A visit in the spring will reveal thousands of incredible blooms. The grounds are divided into four unique gardens. Each garden has it’s own distinct feel and highlights popular plants from different regions or time periods.
In addition to offering self-guided tours, the gardens have many events throughout the year. Members are offered family-friendly programs and challenges to learn together. Sarah P. Duke Gardens offers spring break and summer camps for young ones who want to learn more about plants.
The Bog Garden at Benjamin Park
This stunning garden has been developed around the natural beauty of wetlands. The Bog Garden at Benjamin Park features an elevated boardwalk through 7 acres of swampy area. The garden is open year-round and offers the chance to view more than 8,000 varieties of plants including bamboo, wildflowers, and shrubs. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see birds and other wildlife while meandering through the garden.
The recent addition of “Serenity Falls” offers a calming, recirculating waterfall that will delight all members of the family.
North Carolina Botanical Garden
Chapel Hill, NC
As a conservation garden, the North Carolina Botanical Garden is focused on conserving plants, learning to understand them, and creating a more sustainable relationship between humans and plants. The garden is maintained and operated by UNC.
The stunning attraction features a sculpture garden, an art gallery, a historic cabin, and rotating educational exhibits. With 1,100+ acres of garden, there’s guaranteed to be a new bloom to fall in love with. North Carolina Botanical Garden focuses on showcasing plants native to the region. In the spring, you’re sure to find masses of tiny seasonal blooms.
More NC Gardens to Visit this Spring
The temperature and climate in North Carolina creates an ideal home for beautiful blooms. With exemplary conditions, it’s no wonder the state is home to so many impeccable gardens. You won’t want to miss out on these beautiful outdoor NC attractions.
UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens
New Bern, NC