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 are at the bottom of the page.
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 1. Each week is devoted to one of the topics below. Meet in front of the Nature Center (930 Horse Cove Road).
Pollinators and the Plants that Need and Feed Them
Tour Dates: May 25; Jun. 29; Aug. 3. Explore the Garden with an eye for native wildflowers and their pollinators. Family friendly and fun.
Carnivores of the Bog Garden
Tour Dates: Jun. 1; Jul. 6; Aug. 10. 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.
Tour Dates: Jun. 8; Jul. 13. 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.
Native Plants – How to Enjoy Them in Your Garden
Tour Dates: Jun. 15; Jul. 20. Native plants have many benefits in the home garden: they are hardier, provide habitat for beneficial animals and insects, and bring a sense of history and place to your home. We will focus on some of our area’s natives that have a special place in your garden.
Five Senses in the Garden
Tour Dates: Jun. 22; Jul. 27. 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 Horticulturists at (828) 526-0188 or the Nature Center at (828) 526-2623.
Please contact us to reserve your spot: call (828) 526-0188. Workshops cost $10 for members and $35 for non-members.
Lichens in the Southern Appalachians: What does the future hold for rare species?
Jun. 23, 2:00 – 4:00pm
Lichens offer so much more that meets the eye. What are lichens? What impact do they have on the landscape and what can there presence or absence tell us about the world around us? Jessi Allen is a Lichenologist and Graduate Fellow at the New York Botanical Garden dedicated to sharing the importance and value of lichens to our landscape. Join Jessi to learn more about these unusual species and what we can all learn from them.
Year-Round Green Appeal: Moss Gardening Basics
Jul. 21, 2:00 – 4:00pm
Native mosses are an excellent addition to any garden and provide an evergreen, low maintenance alternative to the traditional grassy lawn. Join Annie Martin, owner of Mountain Moss in Pisgah Forest, NC, to learn how to transform your outdoor living space into a serene retreat and eco–friendly landscape with verdant mosses.Learn to identify moss and liverworts as well as how–to tips to help you get started on your own moss gardening projects.
Creating Pollinator Habitat (Gardens) with Native Plants
Aug. 18, 2:00 – 4:00pm
Plants and pollinators may not have the same goals but the relationship between them that has coevolved over the millennia has led to the success of both flowering plants and the insects that depend upon them. Join Dr. Lisa Wagner to learn more about how your garden can benefit from the wide variety of beautiful native plants of the southern Appalachians and in turn create a habitat full of life and support the diversity of wildlife in your back yard. Participants will explore the garden and witness the wonder of pollination.
How to Prune Rhododendron
Sep. 15, 2:00 – 4:00pm
Rhododendron is everywhere, and regular pruning is critical for the long-term health of your rhododendron. We’ll go over pruning techniques, help you avoid common mistakes and guide you with practice on rhododendron in the Botanical Garden. In addition, we will talk about how to select proper pruning tools in order to make the task easier. This is hands-on so please dress accordingly.
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, 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.
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.