Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Natural Partnership

A Community Partnership with The North Carolina Arboretum honors the natural beauty and heritage of the region and provides an array of creative opportunities to further your business or organization’s civic profile, marketing exposure and audience potential.

Opportunities include:

  • Indoor and Outdoor Changing Exhibits;
  • Educational Programs for Adults and Youth;
  • Tour, Trails and Garden Walks;
  • Wayfinding and Interpretation;
  • Member and Volunteer Programs;
  • Special Events Weekends;
  • Media and Publications; and
  • In-kind Support.

Our current Community Partners are engaged in creative and diverse ways. Their support spans many programs and levels of giving. Join us as a Visionary, Leader, Advocate, Supporter or Friend. Contact Winnie V. Hough, Community Partner Manager, or Clara A. Curtis, or call 828.665.2492 for more information.

Thanks to the support from our Community Partners, staff, volunteers, and members, many seeds have been sown across the Arboretum’s campus. Come visit us today and enjoy the wonders that result!

We are grateful for a deeply rooted community.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Why Wait? Play Outside With Us Today!

Situated in one most botanically diverse and beautiful natural settings in America, exploring The North Carolina Arboretum’s 434-acre campus is more than just a weekend activity; it’s an experience that renews the senses and infuses the mind and body with a connection to nature that lasts a lifetime.

From hiking and biking trails and garden exploration to engaging interactive programs and exhibits, the Arboretum offers rejuvenating activities for all ages and abilities.

Remember Nature?
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you have fond memories of playing outdoors as a child. Maybe you loved to ride your bicycle, swim, play in the woods, skateboard, meet friends for games at local parks and playgrounds, or just hang out in your tree fort. Can you imagine childhood memories without nature?

For the average American born in the last 20 years, childhood without nature is not only possible, it’s the norm. Studies show that children today typically spend only four to seven minutes in unstructured outdoor play. Instead of playing outdoors, the average child spends more than seven hours in front of an electronic screen.1

Nature’s positive effects on health have been well documented, and the Arboretum’s K-12 Academic Programs offer classes rooted in outdoor learning opportunities – providing some youths with their first childhood memories of nature. These memories are fond and long-lasting, and many youths come back every year for camps and field trips. Some youths even request to have their birthday parties at the Arboretum so they can share what they learned with friends and family.

Nature’s Path to Health
Stress-reduction, improved mood, and increased physical health are all results of nature’s positive impact on well-being that have been proven time and again in research studies. Visitors of all ages to The North Carolina Arboretum get to know nature and its benefits through diverse recreational activities.

As more Americans focus on healthy living and healthy aging, The North Carolina Arboretum has experienced increased visitation and program participation. From tai chi classes, hiking and biking, and nature walks to engaging exhibits, garden strolls, and art installations, the Arboretum cultivates personal connections between people and nature. Ample opportunities to recreate and connect with nature at the Arboretum are waiting:

• Refresh and grow in mind with engaging programs, exhibits and events
• Attend to physical health by exploring more than 10 miles of hiking and biking trails
• Renew your senses and explore more than 65 acres of cultivated gardens
• Connect with nature through wildlife watching and Discovery Day Packs
• Expand your relationship to nature’s art by exploring the Arboretum’s Art Walk

The North Carolina Arboretum is YOUR natural treasure. So why wait? Come play outdoors with us today!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Birds of a Feather: We're a Great Spot for Birding!

You’ve probably seen bright and whimsical birds if you’ve ever been hiking or biking at The North Carolina Arboretum, strolling through the gardens, or watching nature from the rocking chairs near the Savory Thyme CafĂ©.

But did you know that we’re an official birding site of the North Carolina Birding Trail?

We’re host to countless and diverse bird species, which is what helped us become part of the Birding Trail. People from across the country – some even from across the globe – visit the Arboretum's 434 acres to catch a glimpse of the birds that visit our campus.

This spring the male goldfinches have their bright yellow color back, and have been a prominent feature at the bird feeders.

On a short stroll through the core gardens you’re likely to see Northern Mockingbirds perched high atop trees, Brown Thrashers and Eastern Towhees rooting for insects below shrubs and amongst flowers, and the occasional Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow and Chipping Sparrow singing loudly.

Along our trails many of our woodland warblers have returned, according to K-12 Academic Coordinator Jonathan Marchal. So far he’s heard Hooded Warblers, Ovenbirds and Northern Parula.

The NC Birding Trail provides a database of sightings and ways to submit your own sightings, which can be an exciting and relaxing recreational activity. Through its work, the Birding Trail connects birders and bird watching sites like the Arboretum with communities, businesses and other local historical and educational organizations.

Bird watching is an engaging activity during every season at the Arboretum! In fact, photographer Michael Oppenheim captured this image in late fall – can you guess what kind of bird it is?

Send your guess by July 8 to and enter a chance to win a free Day Pass from The North Carolina Arboretum!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Be "Green" with Ease: The Gardener's Green Shed Shows You How!

There’s a lot of talk about living “green” and creating “sustainable” systems, but who has the time or resources to actually make these principles part of everyday life?

The newest demonstration area at The North Carolina Arboretum shows just how easy it is to make small changes that have a big impact. Located just outside of the Baker Exhibit Center, the Gardener’s Green Shed is designed to show how an existing shed or small building can be retrofitted with energy-efficient technology that can make outdoor activities easier, less expensive, and fun-filled.

The shed is equipped with two rain barrels that collect water from one side of the roof and have the capacity to store more than 100 gallons of rain water – great for watering ornamental container gardens. Rain water from the opposite side of the roof collects in a 365-gallon cistern that holds enough water to fill seven bathtubs.

A solar panel on the top of the shed provides sufficient energy to keep a large battery charged as well as power a light and a 12-volt outlet inside, which is enough to charge portable tools, lanterns, or even a laptop computer. No overhead or underground wiring is needed.

Visitors – especially children (and children at heart) – admire the shed’s down-home portable water feature. A large wheelbarrow is filled with water and submerged water plants. A small solar panel mounted to the handle runs a marine-grade pump that sends a jet of water up into the air. As long as the sun shines on the panel the fountain of water spurts out, causing giggles and laughter. Stand in front of the solar panel and block the sun – the fountain stops, a very real demonstration of the power of the sun.

The ideas that the shed represents are communicated in three different ways: by demonstrating how the technology works at the shed itself, through print brochures available for pick-up at the shed this summer, and through videos on the Arboretum’s Web site and its nonprofit YouTube channel. These two- to four-minute videos feature Arboretum staff showing off the Green Shed’s features.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Green Weddings Encourage Life-long Environmental Stewardship

He who plants a tree,--
He plants love,
Tents of coolness spreading out above
Wayfarers he may not live to see.
Gifts that grow are best;
Hands that bless are blest;
Plant! life does the rest!
Heaven and earth help him who plants a tree,
And his work its own reward shall be.

~ From “Plant a Tree,” by Lucy Larcom

A wedding is one of the most treasured moments in a person’s life. Last summer The North Carolina Arboretum launched a new Green Wedding Program, offering elegantly designed green buildings and sustainable landscapes as sites for ceremonies and receptions.

Events & Facilities Coordinator Cindy Blankenship manages the Green Wedding Program and sees it as a natural addition to the Arboretum’s rich 25-year history.

And she should know. Cindy has been with The North Carolina Arboretum since the beginning. Before the 434-acre site was developed, she was hired on as the first office assistant – even before the Arboretum hired on its first and current executive director, George Briggs.

In order to meet its mission to cultivate connections between people and plants, the Green Wedding Program requires couples to follow guidelines for using organically grown and natural products as part of their wedding and pledge to reduce consumable products as part of their activities.

Adam Grauer and Erin Mahaffey-Grauer were the first to participate in the program, and their July 18, 2009 wedding still influences environmental decisions they make every day.

To honor the Arboretum’s guidelines, Erin and Adam’s favors for their guests were tree seedlings which contained lines from Lucy Larcom’s poem, ‘Plant a Tree’.

Erin and Adam’s wedding ceremony also centered on ideas of recycling. “We incorporated sea glass into decorations and as a way to think about processes of life and personal relationships – the ways in which personal relations shape the contours of persons and how each and every person at our ceremony had led us to that very moment. It brought a sense of interconnection to the ceremony.”

“The green requirements at the Arboretum definitely carried over into aspects of our daily lives,” Erin said. One of the lasting changes the couple has made is to consider using live plants as opposed to cut flowers for their tables.

“Since our wedding and vows at the arboretum, our commitment to each other has found resonance with metaphors of nature, growth, and nurturance,” Erin said.

With more than 40 weddings booked since the program launched less than a year ago, Blankenship said she believes the credit for program’s popularity belongs to staff, gardens, building design and nature itself.

Erin and Adam agree.

“We chose the Arboretum because we wanted an outdoor wedding ceremony and an indoor reception that could hold at least 100 people comfortably,” Erin said. “The Arboretum is gorgeous with tons of beautiful plants and walkways. We had a cocktail hour in the gardens and our ceremony in the Greek-like amphitheater – perfectly suited to a ceremony outdoors.”

When choosing the Arboretum for their wedding ceremony, Erin and Adam also responded to the venue’s high ceilings, fireplace, wood beams, and ample windows which give it the feel of being outdoors while still providing a comfortable place for dinner and dancing.

“I am proud of all the hard work staff members have put into making the Arboretum what it is today and then having couples choose us as the site for their most important day – it warms my heart to see people in love as well as their love for nature,” Cindy said.

For more information, call Cindy Blankenship at 828.665.2492, ext. 216 or e-mail, or Katie Edwards at 828.665.2492
or e-mail

Monday, February 8, 2010

Discovery is a Healthy Habit

“Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health.”

~ Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

As The North Carolina Arboretum celebrates 25 years as a natural treasure that helps people cultivate connections with plants, it also celebrates another important milestone: a new chapter in its premier Discovery Camp program with the launch of the Counselor-in-Training Program.

Prominent research shows that outdoor activity may enrich health by reducing stress, encouraging weight loss, and improving learning and social-emotional skills. For five years youths in grade K-8 have experienced the benefits of learning in a natural setting first-hand.

The popular Discovery Camp series is still going strong and many camps sell out in early spring. The new Counselor-in-Training program will expand the Arboretum’s camp experience by offering students in ninth- through twelfth-grade an opportunity to explore what it would be like to pursue an environmental-based career.

Developed by K-12 Academic Programs and Teacher Training Coordinator Jonathan Marchal, the program seeks to expand the camp experience beyond middle school by offering students a chance to be mentored and, in turn, mentor themselves.

“The hope is that we can continue to include those campers who have ‘outgrown’ our camps in our summer programs by training them to do what we do,” Marchal said.

The Counselor-in-Training program will introduce teens to skills such as working outdoors, teaching children, caring for reptiles and amphibians, and learning about the methods and techniques used in field ecology.

“It’s a good way to explore environmental education as a career path – plus it’s a great way to spend a week or more of your summer vacation outside!” said Marchal.

Candidates must write and submit a letter of intent as well as a letter of reference from a teacher, community leader, or other adult not related to the candidate. A brief interview will be required before the candidate can participate. Letters and references must be received by May 1, 2010, sent to Jonathan Marchal, The North Carolina Arboretum, 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806-9315.


Thanks to our sponsors, Earth Fare, The Healthy Supermarket, for providing healthy snacks everyday for our campers and healthy meals for our canoeing and camping trips. Thanks also to Diamond Brand Outdoors for supplying equipment such as GPS units, staff uniforms, and more!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The NC Arboretum Launches New Web Site

Welcome to one of the most beautiful places on earth! You’ve entered the Web and social media portal of The North Carolina Arboretum, located in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest of the Pisgah National Forest. We’re pleased you’re here.

Whether you are a prospective visitor to our mountains, a student, a business person, regional resident, or member, you will find this avenue to Arboretum information designed to serve your curiosity, interests and needs. We hope that we can provide exemplary service to you, whether here or through a personal visit to the Arboretum.

As an affiliate of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system, the Arboretum offers an array of programs ranging from kid’s camps and formal education classes to major plant shows and 435 acres of exhibits, landscape features and natural areas. It’s a great place to simply reconnect with nature, spend time outdoors, and celebrate the views, water and majesty of our natural world in the Southern Appalachians.

We’re also focused on sustainable economic development pursuits that capitalize on our unique regional assets – extraordinary biodiversity and the national repository of weather data. The Arboretum is home to the Bent Creek Institute, a young organization that focuses on natural biotechnology and integrative medicine – bringing scientific validation to our mountain folk remedies and responding to a burgeoning market for high quality research in nutraseuticals and botanical medicines.

The Arboretum joins with many community and other partners in making Asheville a national center for climate change information and business development. Our interest, of course, at the Arboretum is the impact of climate change on our plants and ecology.

It’s all here – from enjoying nature to building business; from sunning to science. In a wide variety of ways, The North Carolina Arboretum is growing the future.

George Briggs

Executive Director