The Highlands Botanical Garden was established in 1962 as a refuge and demonstration garden for the diverse flora of the southern Appalachians and its unique communities. Nearly 500 species of mosses, ferns, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees flourish in natural forest, wetlands and old-growth plant communities connected by a series of trails and boardwalks. Several unique demonstration gardens display collections of Native Azaleas, Plants of the Cherokee, Mosses and Liverworts, Wildflower Meadow, Butterfly-pollinated and Rock Outcrop species. The Botanical Garden is free and open to the public year-round from sunrise to sunset. Support comes from Highlands Biological Foundation membership, donations, and Highlands Biological Station. The trail network in the Botanical Garden is part of the Highlands Plateau Greenway and the North Carolina Birding Trail.
Highlands Botanical Garden is open year-round, dawn to dusk, free of charge. Come enjoy the wildflowers along our woodland trails, lake, and creek, have a picnic lunch, take one of our tours or workshops, or consider volunteering. Pick up a copy of our book Highlands Botanical Garden: A Naturalist’s Guide to make the most of your visits and get to know native plants more intimately: the back story to their names and discovery, pollinators and other partners, medicinal and craft uses, and more!
To order your copy of the Naturalist’s Guide go to:
Programming & Community Outreach
Botanical Garden Tours
Scheduled tours are held each Monday during the summer at 10:30am until about 11:30am from May 29 until August 7. Each week is devoted to one of the topics below. Meet in front of the Nature Center (930 Horse Cove Road).
Learn to identify and remove non-native invasive species from your garden and the surrounding forest.
Pollinators and the Plants that Need and Feed Them
Explore the Garden with an eye for native wildflowers and their pollinators. Family friendly and fun.
Carnivores of the Bog Garden
Learn the eating habits and trapping methods of southern Appalachian carnivorous plants, where you can find them, and why they are important. Very kid friendly.
Learn which plants are toxic and what parts of the plant can harm you, then round out your knowledge with the history and folklore behind these plants.
Five Senses in the Garden
We all know that a garden can be pleasing to the eye, but what about our other senses? Explore the garden using the full gamut of your sensory receptors. How can you incorporate texture, scent and the sounds of rustling leaves into your garden and experience the natural world in a new, expansive way.
- While you are not required to R.S.V.P. to these walks, we encourage you to let us know in advance if you are coming.
- Interpretive guided tours for private groups are also available throughout the year and can be arranged by appointment. They are free of charge, but donations are always appreciated.
- Talks on various botanical topics are also available to local garden clubs and other adult organizations.
- To schedule either a tour or a talk, contact our Horticulturist at (828) 526-0188 or the Nature Center at (828) 526-2623.
Our volunteer program includes diverse opportunities spanning a wide array of interests and abilities. To learn more about volunteering at the Highlands Biological Station, call Hillrie Quin at (828) 526-2385 or e-mail hillriemquin(at)gmail.com
Native Plant Propagation & Rescue
The Highlands Botanical Garden is a collaborator with the Land Stewards of the Highlands Plateau, the conservation arm of the Laurel Garden Club. The mission of the Land Stewards is to promote responsible land stewardship and preservation of native plant species through education and community service. We are currently in the process of developing new facilities for the propagation of native plants from local sources, as well as participating in rescues of native plants from local development. Other local collaborators include the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust and Chattooga Gardens, Ltd.
What’s in Bloom? | Frequently Asked Questions | flowering times | herbarium collection | species lists: bird checklist | tree checklist | garden trail maps: Trail Map | Cherokee Garden Brochure | Bartram Trail Map
The Botanical Garden serves as a living museum of labeled plant specimens.