Plants, Sculpture Mingle at NC Botanic Gardens

These Happy Gardeners welcome visitors to the North Carolina Botanical Gardens at Chapel Hill.

happy-gardeners-blogEven though I’m back from my travels to North Carolina, I wanted to share a bit more of my trip because I visited so many wonderful public and private gardens and saw so many plants I’d never seenĀ before.

We had but a short time at the North Carolina Botanical Gardens, part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

I only caught a glimpse of the the gardens’ new environmentally-sustainable visitor education center as the bus pulled into the parking lot.

It was then a mad dash to the gardens to see as much as possible in 40 minutes flat.

I’m afraid I didn’t get too far into the official collection of North Carolina native plants, because I was enjoying the herb garden too much.

The Herb Garden included large beds of culinary and medicinal herbs that were used to treat a number of common ailments, like chest diseases, infectious diseases, rheumatism and other external complaints.

While the rest of the tour group forged on to other gardens, I lingered and read about the medieval Doctorine of Signatures.

People followed the theory that the appearance of a plant was related to its medicinal properties, like yellow dandelion flowers were the best cure for jaundice.

ati-blogThere were also plantings of the herbs used by southeastern Indians for food and medicine. A replica of a life-size Ati showed how members of the Occaneechi tribe used cedar saplings, rawhide and straw thatch to build their cozy huts.

hearts-a-bustin-blog1One of North Carolina’s striking forest plants also caught my attention and caused me to linger longer.

I might not have noticed Euonymus americanus any other time of the year, but in late September it shows why it earned its Heart’s-a-bustin‘ nickname.

Poison plants were featured in a nearby garden and included Autumn crocus (Colchium autumnale) and Hybrid Rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense, ‘Anah Kruschke’). The poison plant garden was designed to help people see the differences between these harmful plants and their friendlier counterparts in the landscape.

shakori-spirit-blogThere were many beautiful sculptures placed throughout the garden, but “Shakori Spirit” by Forrest C. Greenslade, of Pittsboro, N.C., spoke to me.

The artist created this sculpture from concrete, steel and cedar.

The Shakori tribe was a small community of native Americans that lived in North Carolina in the 17th Century and I do believe I felt their presence in the forest that day.

The time at the botanic gardens was entirely too short. I missed seeing the native plants of the shore, piedmont and mountains; the horticultural therapy garden and the garden of flowering plant families.

I’m especially disappointed that I missed the collection of native southeastern carnivorous plants. I hear they’re especially “attractive” in the fall.

I plan to post more about other gardens from my North Carolina travels, so I hope you’ll check back throughout the week.

Please follow me on Twitter @WesternGardener.


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I’ll definitely check back, Jodi – that Heart’s-a-bustin’ is beautiful. I hope to see more pictures of your adventures. Outside of the different gardens you visited, what was in bloom through the city?

This is a funny question, because it seems like everything was in bloom! But most of it I couldn’t see from the windows of the buses that shuttled us around.

Rhododendrons and azaleas and petunias, oh my!

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