Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Webpage: Nature Center/Arboretum
General Description: The North Carolina Arboretum is 434 acres of natural forests for hiking and biking combined with 65 acres of formal gardens. The gardens are beautifully manicured with native and exotic plants in a variety of settings. The Arboretum also has a permanent bonsai exhibit from around the world and currently statuary scattered throughout the gardens made our of leggos. From a full size bison with calf to a 5 foot tall bumblebee, these leggo statues have to be seen to be believed. The 10 miles of hiking trails are all easy walks through the native forest of North Carolina with nice streams and interpretative signs highlighting the native plants.
1) We found the gardens to be beautiful and we enjoyed finding out what the different plants were and where they came from. I would have preferred more native plants, but the combinations of colors and textures they could create from this variety was impressive.
2) The highlight of the gardens for me was the leggo statues. They made colorful additions to the gardens. I wonder how long it would take to create them, especially with all the colors of leggos that would be required? In any case, it was fun getting close to the statues to see the detail you can create from thousands of small leggo pieces.
3) The weekend we visited, the Arboretum was hosting Bonsai workshop. While we did not attend any of the presentations, we enjoyed looking at all the bonsai plants on sale along with the “tools of the trade”. This was an opportunity to see bonsai displays that were still works in progress. The permanent bonsai exhibit in the gardens was also impressive and provided a good contrast to the long-term effort needed to create them.
4) We took a long hike through the native forest that was very worthwhile. Most of the visitors to the Arboretum are there for the formal gardens, so the hike through the forest was very pleasant. Unfortunately, we were a little early for the fall colors, but the forests were starting to show their colors which added to the experience.
5) I would recommend a visit to the Arboretum for anyone interested in nature, whether formal manicured gardens or the natural forest.