Botanical Garden

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.


Contact Horticulturists

Call (828) 526-0188 or visit the Contact page for their information: Click here for Contact page.


 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 26 until September 22.  Each week is devoted to one of the topics below.  Meet in front of the Nature Center (930 Horse Cove Road).

What’s in a Name?  

Tour Dates: May 26; July 7; Aug. 18. 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.  

Tour Dates: June 2; July 14; Aug. 25. Explore the Garden with an eye for native wildflowers and their pollinators. Family friendly and fun.

Historically Significant Plants.  

Tour Dates: June 9; July 21; Sept. 1. The Garden is filled with notable plants of the southern Appalachians. Which plants are important for their uses? Which are famous for their discoverers?  Find out on this tour, which is for an older audience.

Carnivorous Plants.  

Tour Dates: June 16; July 28; Sept. 8. 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.

Deadly Plants and Folklore.  

Tour Dates: June 23; Aug. 4; Sept. 15. 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.  For all ages.

Using Native Plants at Home.  

Tour Dates: June 30; Aug. 11; Sept. 22. Native plants have many benefits in the home garden.  They are hardier to your surrounding environment, provide habitat for beneficial animals and insects, and bring a sense of history and place to your home.  This tour will focus on some of the specimens native to our area that can have special use in your own residential planting.

  • 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 Horticulturists at (828) 526-2602 or the Nature Center at (828) 526-2623.



Please contact us to reserve your spot: call (828) 526-0188 or e-mail egardiner (at) and

Workshop for Young Gardeners

Ages 7-10 10:30-12:30 pm daily Cost $30 per child

June 16-18

This workshop focuses on the basics of gardening, propagation and composting, and gardening with mosses and carnivorous plants.  Kids will practice what they learn each day, contributing to on–going projects at the Botanical Garden.  They will learn relevant biology, ecology, practical methods and, most importantly, how they can garden at home while having fun! Click here to download the full details (PDF).


Rhododendron Pruning

May 26; June 23, 2:00 – 4:00pm

Rhododendron is everywhere, but do you know its proper care?  Find out at this workshop.  Regular pruning is critical for the long-term health of your rhododendron.  We will go over two major pruning techniques, help you avoid common mistakes and guide you with practice on rhododendron in the Botanical Garden.


Maintaining Your Home Flower Beds

July 23; Sept. 24, 2:00 – 4:00pm

It takes work to keep even a well-laid flower bed looking fresh year after year, but it does not have to be a chore.  Attend this workshop to learn the simple maintenance required to get the most out of your flower beds.



Volunteers Lynn Miller and Russell Regnery assisting with Hemlock treatment in the Highlands Botanical Garden.

Volunteers Lynn Miller and Russell Regnery assisting with Hemlock treatment in the Highlands Botanical Garden.

The Laurel Garden Club in Highlands, North Carolina generously donated the funds needed to purchase a greenhouse which will be used for native plant propagation.

The Laurel Garden Club in Highlands, North Carolina generously donated the funds needed to purchase a greenhouse which will be used for native plant propagation.

Earth Day of Service

April 19, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Volunteer in the garden to celebrate Earth Day.  Lunch will be provided.  Please let us know if you wish to attend and we will provide more information.


Volunteer Work Days

May 7, 24; June 4, 18; July 2, 16; Aug. 6, 20

Help give back to the Station by volunteering in the Garden!  Needs vary from week to week but new volunteers of all skill levels are always welcome.  Help is welcome for any amount of time on the days above between 9:00am and 5:00pm.  Please call our Horticulturists ahead of time to receive your assignment.


Unscheduled Days

Volunteer work is available by appointment in the Botanical Garden, Herbarium or propagation facilities.



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!


Image Gallery

Click the photograph below to view a slideshow of photographs taken of the Botanical Garden

[EasyGallery id=’highlandsbotanicalgarden’]


Garden Resources

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.