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5 Beautiful North Carolina Gardens You Must Visit in Spring

Before you know it, spring will be sprung and that means sunny days, chirping birds, and blooming flowers. There’s a feeling of newness and refreshment in the air and what better place to experience it than at a beautiful botanical garden. The state of North Carolina has several exquisite gardens that are open to the public for strolling, sitting, and enjoying nature, from the coastal region, through Piedmont, all the way to the west coast. So, why visit just one? When you make a tour of it and visit all of the most beautiful gardens in North Carolina.

Airlie Gardens, Wilmington Airlie Gardens
Credit: Airlie Gardens by Airlie Gardens

Airlie Gardens, Wilmington

Airlie Gardens, a 67-acre public garden located in Wilmington, is not only one of the premier gardens in the region, but also in the entire South. First created as a private garden for the Pembroke-Jones family in 1886, it was later purchased by the Corbett family in the 1940s, who would open it occasionally to the public, especially in the spring for viewing of the blooming azaleas. After being devastated by natural disasters and vandalism, New Hanover County purchased the land in 1998 and established it as a historic public garden. Now, visitors from all over the country come to see the beautiful flowers, large oak trees, winding paths, and contemporary sculptures that appear throughout the garden. During the summer season (from May to October), you’ll also want to check out the Tranquility Garden, which is home to the Gardens’ 2,700 square foot butterfly house. There, you can see hundreds of butterflies flying freely within the open-air building and if you come on a Tuesday afternoon from June to August, you may just get to witness some of them being released into nature.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, Belmont Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens
Credit: Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens by Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens

Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, Belmont

Located on lakefront property in the town of Belmont, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens spreads across a massive 380 acres and includes a dozen large, professionally-manicured gardens, water fountains, nature trails, and a conservatory that is dedicated to orchids and tropical plants. It is also the only glasshouse in the Carolinas that measures 8,000 square feet and is under five stories tall. Also on site are the Garden Store – a quaint gift shop with a variety of goods including home décor, books, bath products, jewelry, pottery, and art, and the Wine Nook – where you can purchase a glass or a bottle of wine to enjoy during your visit to the gardens.

North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill North Carolina Botanical Garden
Credit: North Carolina Botanical Garden by North Carolina Botanical Garden

North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill

The aptly-named North Carolina Botanical Garden is operated by and located on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Originally started in 1903 by Professor William Coker, the garden has grown substantially throughout the years and now covers over 700 acres. About 2,500 different species of native Carolina plants are represented in the garden’s fourteen collections. In fact, it has become one of the largest native plant botanical gardens in the Southeastern U.S. Among the many things to check out here is the Carnivorous Plant Collection, the Horticulture Therapy Demonstration Garden which was designed for people with limited mobility, the Mountain Habitat Garden which includes plants that are typically grown in the Appalachian Mountains, and the Native Water Gardens that displays aquatic plants that are native to the Southeast.

Reynolda Gardens, Winston-Salem Reynolda Gardens
Credit: Reynolda Gardens by Reynolda Gardens

Reynolda Gardens, Winston-Salem

The Reynolda Gardens, located in Winston-Salem, were originally part of a massive estate owned by tobacco king, R.J. Reynolds, and his wife in the early 1900’s. After both had passed, their daughter, Mary Reynolds Babcock, donated the property to Wake Forest College and established the Reynolda Gardens. Since then, the gardens have been reconstructed and restored to their original design, and now consist of 125 acres of woodlands and wetlands, as well as four acres of formal gardens that feature themed gardens, rose gardens, fountains, pergolas, vegetables, fruit trees, and a greenhouse. The gardens are also adjacent to the former Reynolds’ home, which is now the Reynolda House Museum of American Art.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Credit: Sarah P. Duke Gardens by Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham

Named for one of the benefactors of Duke University, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham are located on the campus of the famous school and consist of over 50 acres of both landscaped and wooded areas. The property features several gardens including the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants – a six and a half-acre garden with over 900 species of native NC plants, the Doris Duke Center Gardens – a relaxing and beautiful area with white flowers, a peaceful pond, and a discovery garden, and the Historic Gardens that feature a fish pool and a pergola. For a bit of international flair, make sure to also check out the Asiatic Arboretum, which features a collection of flowering plants from Southeast Asia, as well as Asian garden accents like stepping stone paths, arched bridges, and large water features.

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