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 proceeds from the annual Native Plant Symposium held each year in September.
The trail network in the Botanical Garden is part of the Highlands Plateau Greenway and the North Carolina Birding Trail.
Relevant links can be found at the bottom of the page.
Call (828) 526-2602
Programming & Community Outreach
Botanical Garden Tours
Scheduled tours are held each Monday May 27th-Aug. 26th at 10:30 am. Each week is devoted to one of the topics below. Meet in the amphitheatre behind the Nature Center (930 Horse Cove Road).
What’s in a Name? (May 27, July 1, Aug. 5)
Tour the garden and learn how certain plants got their names. From names based on morphological characteristics to the people that named them, this tour will cover it all. It’s also kid friendly.
Wildflowers and Their Pollinators (June 3, July 8, Aug. 12)
Explore the garden with an eye for native wildflowers and their pollinators. We will discuss flower characteristics and what attracts pollinators to the plants. This is family friendly and fun Botany 101.
Historically Significant Plants (June 10, July 15, Aug. 19)
The Botanical Garden is filled with notable plants of the southern Appalachians. We will learn about the importance of some of these plants in an historical context. Which plants are important for their uses and which became famous for their discoverers? This tour is more suitable for an older audience.
Carnivorous Plants (June 17, July 22, Aug. 26)
Are you fascinated by the thought of meat-eating plants? Learn the eating habits and trapping methods of southern Appalachian carnivorous plants, where you can find them, and why they are important in their habitats. This tour is very kid friendly.
Deadly Plants and Folklore (June 24, July 29)
Enjoy a tour of the garden focused on the deadly plants of the southern Appalachians. Learn which plants are toxic and what parts of the plant can harm you, then round out your knowledge with a discussion of the history and folklore behind these plants. For all ages.
- 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 Horticultural Specialist at (828) 526-2602 or the Nature Center at (828) 526-2623.
Summer Workshop for Young Gardeners Ages 7-10 10 :30am – 12:30pm Cost: $30 per child
June 17th-19th This three-day garden workshop for kids will focus on the basics of gardening, propagation and composting, and gardening with mosses and carnivorous plants. Kids will get to practice what they learn each day, contributing to on-going projects at the Botanical Garden. They will learn about relevant biology, ecology, and practical methods. The workshop is designed to teach them what they can do at home in their own backyard.
To sign up: Call (828) 526-2602 to request a registration form.
Scheduled dates: May 31st, June 28th, July 26th, and Aug. 30th (or the last Friday in May – Aug.)
Unscheduled dates: Call our horticulturist to schedule a time to help in the garden.
Native Plant Propagation & Rescue
The Highlands Botanical Garden is a collaborator with the Land Stewards of the Highlands Plateau, a project of the Laurel Garden Club and the Mountain 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.
Native Plant Symposium
Since 1999, The Highlands Biological Foundation has held it’s annual Symposium to promote the use of native plants in gardening and landscaping. The objective of the Symposium is for participants to incorporate concepts of ecology and conservation into their gardening practices. Proceeds from the Symposium benefit the Botanical Garden at the Highlands Biological Station, which was established in 1962 by the Highlands Biological Foundation as a refuge and collection of demonstration gardens for over 450 species of southern Appalachian plants.
In 2011, the focus of the symposium were trees and shrubs. Perennials will take the spotlight this year, with lectures, workshops, and field trips focused on landscaping and gardening with native perennials. Stay tuned for more details!
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
donate to the garden | summer internship opportunities | Native Plant Symposium | NC Botanical Garden | NC Arboretum | Asheville Botanical Gardens | Highlands Plateau Greenway | North Carolina Birding Trail
The Botanical Garden serves as a living museum of labeled plant specimens.