UNCC Botanical Gardens

Started in 1966, The UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens are located on the campus of the University of North Carolina Charlotte. The word "garden" often invokes images of flower bushes in a front yard, herbs in a backyard, or maintained ornamental bushes. There is a difference between these gardens and a botanical garden. Garden is a general term that encompasses a wide range of plants growing. A botanical garden, however, holds curated plant collections for conservation, education, research, and inventory. UNCC Botanical Gardens



Started in 1966, The UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens participates in each of these components of a botanical garden, and is committed to sharing the world of plants with people through its curated collections as a member of the American Public Gardens Association. The gardens are located on the campus of the University of North Carolina Charlotte, and were originally the idea of Dr. Herbert Hechenbleikner, a biology professor, and Bonnie E. Cone, the founder of UNC Charlotte.

The Botanical Gardens were formed to act as a living classroom for biology students, as well as a botanical and horticultural resource for the entire campus and greater Charlotte community. The founders of the gardens thought that a university campus wasn't complete without the cultural and educational resource of a managed botanical garden. The first area of the gardens was the Van Landingham Glen, which provided a unique space in the city for botanists, students, and enthusiasts to come together to grow a garden. The McMillan Greenhouse was later added for the purpose of adding the Orchid Collection to the Botanical Gardens. The collection today still contains some of the original orchids.

The UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens has now grown to include more of an array of plants and collections than any other garden in the Charlotte area. The gardens, over more than forty years, have evolved into 10 acres of outdoor gardens, a teaching classroom that includes a horticultural and botanical library of over 1,200 books, and a 4,500 square foot glasshouse with a workspace. Several underutilized spaces have been made into special collections to display unique approaches to gardening. Most recently added is the Mellichamp Terrace, which combines a love of botany, home gardening, and horticulture. Photo: UNCC Botanical Gardens

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»McMillan Greenhouse

McMillan Greenhouse

The McMillan Greenhouse at the University of North Carolina Charlotte Botanical Gardens contains eight greenhouse rooms, six different themed plant collections, surrounding plant beds, a courtyard, and terraces. A variety of plant displays show visitors scenes from around the world and through time. Featuring living fossils, the Dinosaur Garden provides a look into vegetation during prehistoric times. Plants that prey on insects are showcased in the Carnivorous and Bog Collection. Among the various carnivorous plants in the McMillan Greenhouse are Sarracenia hybrids. These plants were bred by Dr. Mellichamp for unique patterns, shapes, and colors. Orchids, Desert Succulents, Tropical Plants, and Economic Plants can also be found within the collections of the UNCC Botanical Gardens. Included in the Tropical Plants collection is the Titan Arum, whose smell, size, and shape captivates visitors, as well as many other small and large exotic plants.

Titan Arum

Common impressions of visitors of the Titan Arum plants at the UNCC Botanical Gardens include huge, confusing, bizarre, and sometimes smelly. Although this plant resides in the McMillan Greenhouse within the Tropical Plants collection, the Titan Arum captures attention all for itself. The Titan Arum is a bizarre, smelly plant that only blooms every seven to ten years. The University of North Carolina Charlotte Botanical Gardens are home to two Titan Arum plants: Odie and Bella. Even though the bloom of these plants are both a smell and sight to behold, they are also amazing plants to see between bloomings. Between bloomings, the Titan Arum resembles a tree, with its "trunk" being one massive leaf with smaller leaflets that resemble their own leaves. Photo: UNCC Botanical Gardens

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»Van Landingham Glen

Van Landingham Glen

A true woodland garden, the Van Landingham Glen is the first installment of the University of North Carolina Charlotte Botanical Gardens. The plants within this garden are almost entirely all Carolina-native plants. The only exception are the dazzling Rhododendrons. Visitors to the Van Landingham Glen can enjoy a peaceful walk through a Carolina landscape. The Glen also provides a welcome respite from busy college life that not too many campuses offer. The garden is also the final resting place of Bonne E. Cone, the community leader and visionary of the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Her resting space is a tranquil space to relax and appreciate her contributions to the university, or to just delight in a beautiful day on the campus she helped create.

Susie Harwood Garden

The outdoor Susie Harwood Garden at the University of North Carolina Charlotte Botanical Gardens was designed to inspire visitors' own gardening. The garden features different approaches to landscaping, as well as a broad array of plants that grow in the Carolina Piedmont. This garden remains alive with plants year-round thanks to its winter-blooming plants. Visitors can find inspiration and tranquility during any season of the year with a stroll through the Asian Garden. The Mellichamp Terrace, the UNCC Botanical Gardens' newest addition, features a meadow accompanied by hardscaping and woodwork. A visit to the meadow while its in bloom offers visitors a chance to experience the new addition at its pique. Photo: UNCC Botanical Gardens

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»Seasonal Highlights

Seasonal Highlights

The UNCC Botanical Gardens offers spectacular botanical sights throughout the entire year, whether guests visit one of the outdoor gardens or the McMillan Greenhouse. The plants on display, however, reach their peak bloom at different times of the year, resulting in a unique experience with each season. A guide is available on the website of the UNCC Botanical Gardens to help visitors plan a trip to the gardens or to see what plants are currently in bloom.

Visitors will find orchids in full bloom in the McMillan Greenhouse from January to February. During this time, guests can view the largest variety of different types blooming. Also during the winter months, winter-loving plants can be seen along the Susie Harwood Garden's Winter Trail. Among the winter plants are evergreens, Japanese flowering Apricot, Witch Hazels, and ornamental barks. Late February through March brings Camelias, early bulbs, Edgeworthia, Hellebores, Cornelian Cherry, Mahonia, and several more plants to the Winter Garden in the Susie Harwood Garden.

The Van Landingham Glen begins to be filled with blooming ephemeral wildflowers, including bloodroot, Hepatica, and trout lily. These are followed by bluebells, green-and-gold, trilliums, wild geranium, phlox, and many others. The spring wildflowers continue from early to mid-April in the Glen with anemones, trilliums, jack-in-the-pulpits, mayapples, columbine, woodland phlox, foamflowers, and emerging ferns. Dogwoods, azaleas, Japanese maple foliage, redbuds, silverbell, perennials, styrax, spring bulbs, and viburnums help transform the Harwood Garden into a green paradise throughout April. Photo: UNCC Botanical Gardens

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»More Seasonal Highlights

More Seasonal Highlights

From Late April to Mid-May, The Susie Harwood Garden features a new wave of blooming plants, such as Japanese iris, hardy tropical plants, daylilies, water plants, and hydrangeas. During this time, carnivorous plants are also in full bloom and growing at the McMillan Greenhouse. Within the outside plant beds and courtyard, colorful annuals, tropical, and vines abound. Visitors can find shade in the woodland Van Landingham Glen, which gives guests a taste of the mountains in the Piedmont around this time. The McMillan Greenhouse is spectacular to visit any time of the year. Outdoor tropicals and carnivorous plants remain blooming and colorful through October. From late May to early July, the Susie Harwood Garden's Asian garden, butterfly garden, water garden, and hardy tropicals flourish.

The fall brings autumn leaf and fruit colors to the Susie Harwood Garden and Van Landingham Glen in November, turing the gardens into a fall kaleidoscope. The berries of the Idesia trees are particularly interesting to see in the Harwood Garden. Sasanqua camellias can also be found in full bloom during the crisp, colorful fall season. Visitors can forget about the winter temperatures outside while exploring the McMillan Greenhouse in December. The arid desert room, vibrantly colorful orchid collection, lush dinosaur room, and humid tropical room offer an escape from the cold and fascinating sights to behold. Photo: UNCC Botanical Gardens

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»Plan Your Visit

Plan Your Visit

The University of North Carolina Charlotte Botanical Gardens offers a variety of educational programs. The At Home in the Garden Series offers participants a chance to gain a better understanding of how to take care of their own garden, as well as using the plethora of natural materials to enhance their own home. The classes include demonstrations and lectures about pruning hydrangeas, Japanese maples, planting trees, growing orchids, holiday greenery, and creating pressed flower art. The classes in this series, designed to improved guests' gardening knowledge and skills are led by garden enthusiasts and experts.

The UNCC Botanical Gardens also provides the Certificate in Native Plant Studies program. The native plant courses give participants an opportunity to explore a broad array of topics, all taught by local experts. Courses covering topics such as plant identification, botany for gardeners, propagation, meadow gardens, and natural heritage field trips are available for guests to take as many or as few as they want. Participant also have the chance to pursue the certificate. While some of these classes are taught at the University of North Carolina Charlotte Botanical Gardens, others are held at other botanical sites, such as Pearson's Falls, prairies in Cabarrus and Union counties, and Forty-Acre Rock Preserve.

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Things to Do in Charlotte, NC: UNCC Botanical Gardens