NC Arboretum showcases trees, plants and landscaping

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 25, 2015

By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post

ASHEVILLE — The fall colors in the North Carolina mountains are at their peak. If you’ve traveling to the area this fall, be sure to plan a visit to the North Carolina Arboretum.

My son, Andrew, and I happened to visit the gardens recently on our way up to the Mount Pisgah area. The admission is just $12 per vehicle, so we decided to stop for a couple of hours. We did go on to Graveyard Fields nearby. But with the recent rains and resulting muddy trails, we didn’t get very far on our hike — which, truth to tell, was fine with me.

So the arboretum was definitely the best stop of the day. What a fantastic place to spend a few hours or an entire afternoon.

The arboretum is situated on some 434 acres with 65 acres of cultivated gardens and 10 miles of hiking and biking trails. It has 10 gardens, displaying a wide variety of trees and plants. Our favorite was the Bonsai Exhibition Garden, which showcases a rotating exhibit of bonsai plants, all with a flavor of Southern Appalachia.

There’s also the Quilt Garden, which follows the design of a traditional quilt, in flowers. This fall, the garden is ablaze with red and gold chrysanthemums, surrounded by the silvery leaves of Dusty Miller plants.

Of course, the arboretum is a gardener’s dream. The Heritage Garden includes plants used in the region’s medicinal herb and craft industries. The Plants of Promise Garden includes landscape plants appropriate for the region, and shows ways to use stone in the garden.

Additionally, the plants and trees here are all labeled, so that the home gardener can get specific plant names for his or her own garden.

Along with the gardens, there are nearly a dozen trails, varying from .3 miles to 1.3 miles in length, from easy to difficult.

And for art lovers, the garden has an outstanding collection of indoor and outdoor art.

All in all, a great place to visit this fall.

Upcoming events include The Winter Lights exhibit, Nov. 20-Jan. 2, and a watercolor exhibit on the western North Carolina mountains by James Scott Morrison, May 28-Sept. 5, 2016.

The N.C. Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Olmsted Way in Asheville. The Baker Exhibit Center/Education Center and Bonsai Exhibition Garden are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The gardens are open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily until Oct. 31, and 8 a.m.-7 p.m. daily from Nov. 1 to March 31. For more information about the N.C. Arboretum, call 828-665-2492 or

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.