The Wing Haven Gardens & Bird Sanctuary was established by Elizabeth and Edwin Clarkson in 1927 and has been a unique part of Charlotte, North Carolina ever since. Enclosed on three sides by brick walls, the pristine gardens span almost three acres on Ridgewood Avenue in the heart of Charlotte and feature magnificent formal gardens, rolling woodlands, and spectacular views.

1.Wing Haven Gardens Attractions

Wing Haven Gardens Attractions  

The Wing Haven Gardens & Bird Sanctuary features two beautifully manicured gardens, namely the Wing Haven Garden & Bird Sanctuary and The Elizabeth Lawrence House & Garden, which are managed by the Wing Haven Foundation and open to the public to enjoy. The original garden was created in 1927 by Elizabeth Clarkson around the new house that Edwin had surprised her with, which they lived in until 1988 and then donated to the Wing Haven Foundation.

The original Clarkson Garden is the only garden listed as a local historic landmark in the Charlotte area and is also certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Wildlife Habitat. The Gardens provide excellent cover and nesting sites, food and water for an array of birds and other wildlife and over 150 species of birds have been seen in the gardens and sanctuary over the past years.

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2.The Gardens

The Gardens  

The garden is designed in the shape of a Cross of Lorraine with a longer path crossed by two shorter perpendicular paths, with the house set between the two shorter tracks. The garden features several beautiful fountains and tranquil pools, as well as a wealth of native and ornamental trees, small shrubs, and flowers. There is also an authentic English sundial that dates back to 1705, plaques with poems, statues, terracotta pieces, and sculptures, including the patron saint of gardeners, Saint Fiacre.

The Elizabeth Lawrence House & Garden was purchased in 2008 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also a designated historical landmark and, according to Davyd Foard Hood, author of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Preservation Report “holds significance in the history of Charlotte, the state, and the nation.”

Wing Haven is home to several champion trees, including a magnificent 130-foot tall and 67-inch thick Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) which became a “Treasure Tree and Jewel of the Queen's Crown” and the nation's largest specimen of Pin Chastetree (Vitex agnus-castus). The Elizabeth Lawrence Garden has the largest recorded Japanese Stewart (Stewart pseudo camellia) in Mecklenburg County, one of the original trees of the Treasure Tree Program.

The mission of the Wing Haven Gardens is to cultivate a sanctuary in nature, promote environmental stewardship and maintain the legacy Southern horticulture.

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3.Educational Programs

Educational Programs
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Wing Haven offers environmental education programs, events and lectures annually for children and adults and hosts a variety of activities throughout the year. Children's activities range from story times, fun-filled harvest, backyard bird counts, and birdhouse building contests, while adults educational programs for adults cover a variety of gardening topics from vegetable gardening, formal landscape design, and backyard birding, as well as photography, wellness and art classes. Programs include hands-on interactive workshops, lectures and symposiums and workshops.

Seasonal programs include a Fall Plant Sale, ‘From Charlotte to Charlottesville - A Shared Legacy Tour: Three of the South's Greatest Gardeners', ‘Arts in the Garden', ‘Harvest at the Haven', ‘Oyster Roast', ‘Holiday Festival: Arranging with Bloom', ‘Candlelight Holiday Party', and ‘Holiday Trees for Wildlife.' Other events include a Great Backyard Bird Count, a Birdhouse Building Contest, a Naturalist Egg Count, and Spring Time in the Garden.

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4.Plan Your Visit

Plan Your Visit
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Wing Haven Gardens is made up of two gardens, namely the Wing Haven Garden & Bird Sanctuary located at 248 Ridgewood Avenue and The Elizabeth Lawrence House & Garden which is situated at 348 Ridgewood Avenue. The gardens are open year-round Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and admission is free to Wing Haven Members. Parking is conveniently located between both the gardens and visitors are encouraged to enjoy the short walk to the Elizabeth Lawrence House & Garden from the parking lot. Handicap parking is available in front of the building near the parking lot.

The gardens are well laid out and easy to manage by following the brick paths, white arrows, and matching numbers. Leave at least one hour to stroll through the entire garden and picnics can be enjoyed in the Children's Garden. There are also picnic facilities at the Little Sugar Creek Greenway or Freedom Park. There are activities available for children and wheelchair facilities throughout the park. Guided tours of the Gardens are offered for groups for a nominal fee.

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248 Ridgewood Ave, Charlotte, North Carolina 28209, Phone: 704-331-0664

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Things to Do in Charlotte, North Carolina: Wing Haven Gardens & Bird Sanctuary