The Charlotte region is home to several very different public gardens, each with its own feel and focus. What they all have in common is that they provide a peaceful, relaxing experience and a way to connect with nature.
Several are free, and none are very expensive.
Several of them had been closed to the public but all are open now.
Whether you’re interested in getting ideas for your own garden, or you have children who need to get out of the house, or you just want to get some fresh air, these gardens are the perfect outing.
Read on to learn the basics about each of these seven gardens. The photos and videos that we include will give you a good idea of what each one is like, but there’s no substitute for visiting yourself.
260 Ridgewood Avenue
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Seniors age 65+ only on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Cost: $10. Children 10 and under are admitted for free
Current Status: Open, but you need to make a reservation online
Wing Haven includes the Elizabeth Lawrence House & Garden, Wing Haven Garden & Bird Sanctuary, and SEED Wildlife Garden & Children’s Garden.
Wing Haven Garden & Bird Sanctuary was created by Elizabeth and Edwin O. Clarkson starting in 1927. They designed the gardens, three acres in total, with birds in mind. There are formal areas, an herb garden, woodlands, and plantings that serve as cover, nesting sites and food for birds.
Throughout Wing Haven you’ll find many arbors, fountains and pools, and small statues. Be on the lookout for Saint Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners.
The Children’s Garden at Wing Haven provides a space for children to learn and explore. It’s an outdoor classroom, as well as a wildlife den, a green tunnel, a storytelling circle, and more.
Just 10 houses down is the Elizabeth Lawrence House and Garden, which was bought by Wing Haven several years ago. When you buy a ticket to Wing Haven, it grant you admission to this garden as well.
Elizabeth Lawrence, an internationally known garden writer, created her garden as a “living laboratory,” where she researched, learned and wrote. This garden, just over a third of an acre, demonstrates just what can be accomplished in a small area.
400 Hermitage Road
Hours: Daylight hours, but call to make sure there’s not a wedding or other event on the grounds.
Cost: Free to visit grounds
Current status: Grounds are open to visitors.
Duke Mansion was built in 1915 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Mansion is operated as a nonprofit, with all proceeds used to preserve and protect the property, which contains 20 guest rooms and hosts weddings and other events.
Often Duke Mansion hosts cocktails events, where guests can enjoy drinks and socializing throughout the gardens.
Enjoy some pictures from the gardens, all of which are free to the public and can be accessed from the parking lot:
UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens
UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens
9090 Craver Road
Hours: Open every day during daylight hours
Parking: On weekends, you may park in any space on campus that’s not marked as reserved, for free. On weekdays, there are several spots in Lot 16A next to McMillan Greenhouse for greenhouse and garden visitors. If the greenhouse is open, just sign the sign-in sheet inside the greenhouse with your license plate number. If these spots are full, addition, paid parking is available at East Deck 1 and the Union Deck. Consult the Campus Map.
Current status: Open, but the McMillan Greenhouse is closed
The UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens are a hidden gem in Charlotte. If you have an interest in botany you’ll want to spend hours exploring every square inch of the gardens. The plants are all labeled.
But you don’t have to be interested in plants to enjoy the peace and beauty of the Gardens.
There are two main areas to explore.
The Susie Harwood Garden features native and non-native plants that grow well in the Piedmont. If you’re planning to do landscaping of your own, you’ll be inspired by the plants, gardening styles and landscaping here.
Susie Harwood Garden also features a pagoda, bridges, creeks, waterfalls, a pond, an Asian Garden, and more.
The Van Landingham Glen is a woodland section of the gardens. It features a collection of rhododendrons and native plants of the Carolinas. You’ll find wildflowers, ferns, native trees and shrubs.
The plants of the Glen are catalogued on the UNCC website. So, feel free to explore the website and then use the map to look for the plants in the Glen.
McGill Rose Garden
McGill Rose Garden
940 N Davidson Street
Hours: Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. The garden may be closed to the public for a private events, so please look at the event calendar before arriving.
Current Status: Open. Restrooms not available.
Parking: Free parking
We hesitate to overuse the phrase “hidden gem,” but McGill Rose Garden truly is one. This compact garden is tucked away on North Davidson Street between 12th and 13th Street, right outside of Uptown Charlotte and close to NoDa.
You’ll see hundreds of varieties of roses, as well as many other plants. You can wander the paths, relax on benches or at tables, and discover sculptures by Charlotte artist Tom Risser throughout the garden.
The best time of year to visit is May and October. The roses bloom first in May and again in October. The garden holds an annual open house on Mother’s Day to celebrate the anniversary of the garden.
But there’s no bad day to visit.
The garden is available for private events like weddings, parties and photo sessions. It also hosts seasonal community events like a Christmas Light walkthrough and an Easter Egg Hunt.
One of the enchanting things about McGill Rose Garden is that it’s so close to the hustle and bustle of the city, but a world apart. You can hear bird song against the backdrop of trucks rumbling by, and somehow the combination is perfect.
Avant Fuel & Ice Company was once on this property, and the owner’s wife, Helen McGill started planting rose bushes along the fences. She ended up planting over 500 rose bushes. On Mother’s Day, 1962, the garden opened to the public.
In 1975 the business closed and the property was sold to the City of Charlotte, and it became a public park.
There is also a wine bar on the property that allows garden access to its patrons during its opening hours. (Check McGill’s website for hours.)
An old railroad track even goes through the property!
725 Crest Street
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Hours: Open daily, dawn to dusk
Current Status: Open
This 11-acre oasis in the heart of Rock Hill started as the backyard garden of David and Hazel Bigger in 1928. Today it is a lush and varied garden that features dogwoods, azaleas, wisteria, camellias, hardwood trees and much more.
Glencairn Garden offers treats for the ears and not just the eyes, with moving water throughout.
The Veterans Garden honors the men and women of the Armed Forces, including service men and women who are POW/MIA.
The Children’s Garden is a gated area that includes a Butterfly Garden, a Sun Dial Garden, and more. Next to the Children’s Garden is a Victory Garden, where, if you’re lucky, you’ll find something to take home in the Harvest Basket.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 South New Hope Road
Hours: Public hours are on Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Adults: $14.95; Seniors (60+): $12.95; Child (2-12): $7.95; Child under 2: Free; EBT card holders: $1
Current Status: The Garden is opening to the public on August 22nd, on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Only a limited number of tickets will be sold, starting each Monday for that weekend.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is the largest garden in the Charlotte area, with 110 acres to explore, including the Four Seasons garden, the Canal Garden, Lost Hollow (an area for children), an Orchid Conservatory and more.
The Garden hosts several seasonal events, including Holiday Lights, the Lost Hollow Music Fest, Fairy Fest, and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day events.
Check back soon for more pictures.
3427 N. Tryon Street
Hours: Call for times
Cost: $5 for a tour of the grounds; $12 for a tour of the house
Current Status: Tours of the grounds and the house are open, but you need to call and make an appointment.
One interesting point of interest is the Four-Square Kitchen Garden. It’s purposefully near the kitchen and features four corners of plantings: medicinal, for aroma, for decoration, and for food.
The house at Rosedale was completed in 1815 by Archibald Frew, a tax collector and postmaster for the town of Charlotte.
The last people to live in the house were Mary Louise and Alice Davidson, sisters who sold the home and land to the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina in 1985.
Restoration took about six years, and in 1993 Historic Rosedale opened to the community. You can learn about the generations of people who lived in the estate, including enslaved people, on tours of the home.
Historic Rosedale is on about 9 acres, and includes the restored historic house, recreated blacksmith shop, and, of course, the gardens.
The grounds of Historic Rosedale feature formal gardens, and a huge variety of trees, shrubs and plants.
Treasure Trees are a highlight of Historic Rosedale. 74 trees in Mecklenburg County are designated as “Treasure Trees” for their old age and historical significance. Five of the trees in Historic Rosedale are designated as Treasure Trees.
As you explore the grounds, you can use the Tree Guide or a self guided brochure to help you find all the treasures.
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