Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Beginning With Roots

History Comes to Life

The North Carolina Arboretum began in 1986, but our roots go back to the late 1800s and a dream by the “Father of Landscape Architecture,” Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted was an internationally recognized landscape architect who brought his unique vision to life throughout the world. He died in 1898 after completing his last major project at the Biltmore Estate but before he could see his dream of establishing an arboretum on estate property realized.

His dream became the foundation for The North Carolina Arboretum. In the early 1980s The Western North Carolina Development Association supported the establishment of an arboretum to serve the mountain area, and The North Carolina Arboretum was established in 1984.

In 1986 The NC General Assembly established The Arboretum’s governance structure as an affiliated facility of the 16-campus University of North Carolina system. A site selection committee approved The Arboretum’s current location in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest of the Pisgah National Forest – comprised of land once owned by the Biltmore Estate. Olmsted’s dream was realized within a century of his passing and on the very land he dreamed about.

Since that time The NC Arboretum has enjoyed its popularity, growth, and expanded audience as evidenced by the more than 240,000 guests who explore our gardens, trails, and exhibits each year.

What can people do and see at The NC Arboretum?
The NC Arboretum invites guests to discover and enjoy the natural world, and:

  • Visit The Baker Exhibit Center, where we welcome guests and host high-quality traveling exhibits year-round;
  • Discover natural beauty through 65 acres of cultivated gardens, including one of the finest bonsai collections in Southeastern United States;
  • Explore 10 miles of forested hiking and biking trails;
  • Take a guided or self-guided garden tour, a self-guided Art Walk of garden sculpture, or enjoy a free Nature Discovery Day Pack for children;
  • Glide through nature via Segway on a guided tour;
  • Enjoy frequent plant shows and art exhibits throughout the year;
  • Take an adult or youth program or class with our expert educators;
  • Enjoy homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts at the Savory Thyme CafĂ©;
  • Find keepsakes and unique gifts for your loved ones or yourself at our gift shops;
  • Return often; every season is beautiful!

For more information, visit

Next Up

This entry serves as the beginning of an exciting year on the horizon for The NC Arboretum. Key staff will begin to contribute to this blog, providing fun and engaging insights and resource information about The NC Arboretum experience. Stay tuned in early 2009!