Botanical Gardens

Chapel Hill botanical gardens

100 Old Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

(919) 962-0522

This place was perfect for my husband’s graduation picnic. It was super close to campus but uncrowded and pretty. I wish we would have had more time to explore. It was great with loads of nieces and nephews who needed to run around. They especially loved the “flesh eating” plants area… go figure. It looked like there were some great trails and pretty areas. Chapel Hill’s Duke Gardens I’d say. Definitely worth exploring more – great free date/picnic!

This is a gorgeous spot to come and relax, check out some local plantlife and learn about growing your own garden. It’s also close to some decent bird watching! So for the birders in your life, they’ll enjoy this place.

Clear signs for the plants and pathways. Beautiful plant preservation area. Some of the plants are available for purchase.

“Botannical garden” is really a misnomer for this place. Except for the main building and the relatively few plantings immediately surrounding it, I’d call it more of a series of nature trails. That said, the plantings are very nice and the trails are well maintained, offering nice variations in difficulty and terrain. What sets the NCBG apart from Duke Gardens is the focus on wild plants that are indigenous to the area. Try to visit when they have pitcher plants, wild geraniums/other wildflowers, and native vines and trees for sale. You’ll have plants that no one will, and they’re more likely to do well in this climate.

This review is for the Piedmon Nature Trail behind the garden with 2 main loops: Streamside Trail and the Oak Hickory Trail. The trail is open to the public and are accessible even when the Botanical Garden is closed. There is a trail map available here: The Streamside trail goes by the creek and had a few bridges. It doesn’t change elevation much and is very easy to walk. It’s only a half mile long, though it can get humid near the creek. I saw some people playing in the sandy shores of the creek and they seemed to be having a blast. The Oak Hickory Trail is a bit more challenging. It goes up and down a few hills and has some staircases and steps in many places. It’s 3/4 of a mile long. Both trails can be connected together for a longer trip. It’s a great place to get a short hike or trail run in. It’s easily accessible from the garden parking lot or overflow lot. It’s also got access from some side streets. Both trails are well marked with lots of benches to stop and take nature in from. It’s a great place to do a quick family hike of less than an hour in length.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden is an enjoyable place to visit to explore the native wildlife of the Carolinas. They have a great walking path through several different native plant areas from wetlands to forests, and special areas devoted to carnivorous plants, medicinal plants, water lilies, etc. It is a little more organic and overgrown in feel than the Duke Gardens with their greater views and ponds, but a nice place to explore. There’s also an eclectic mix of art around some of the gardens including a large scale metal chess set, and metal sculptures of garden life or neat re-uses of glass bottles. It’s free, and it focuses more on education than on formal floral displays. A fun place to explore on your own or with kids. They also have a little shop area where you can buy plants for your own garden. Their parking lot is a little confusing when we tried to exit. They just opened up a new set of buildings, but we didn’t check them out.

First time visitor to these gardens. I especially enjoyed the garden art sculptures scattered throughout. The fall is maybe not the best time to visit for much of the flowering plants, but autumn offers a few suprises of its own. We spotted lots of garden critters too… from the bullfrogs, skinks and other lizards, birds and butterflies of all sorts..even the elegant yellow and brown common garden spider. A perfect fall day spent in a wonderful place outdoors.

Very small gardens compared to most state botanical gardens. They do have a lovely herb section and I believe are still building on. Since it is so small it is very quite-went on a Saturday afternoon. If it was near my house I might go more often since it’s a lovely atmosphere, but I would be a lot more likely to visit Duke Gardens over these.

I learned some interesting things visiting the NC Botanical Garden. I had never been there before, but expected it to be like Duke Garden’s. I can’t say I was very impressed, but at the same time I didn’t walk through the entire garden, so I will have to return and do that one day. Staff members seemed nice though and there is a lot of great information behind the garden.

Three warnings: * The NC Botanical Garden is almost more of an event venue than a garden. There were at least two large buildings that were either closed or partially closed to the public. They looked really new and nice, but I was surprised that there were not greenhouses but instead all of the structures were for events (and they looked like they’d be great venues, by the way). * The visitor’s center was in one of those nice, new buildings, but it seemed more commercial than informative (overpriced gift shop, a few pieces of art to display, but nothing really informative). I guess that goes back to the event venue comment. * A lot of the gardens form a separate section *before* you get to the visitor center. I walked past the visitor’s center to visit the gardens and I almost missed most of my favorite parts (there is only a small area and the nature trails behind the event spaces/visitor’s center). If you go in knowing those three things you won’t be disappointed (and you may actually be pleasantly surprised)! I really liked the gardens themselves. They were pretty varied-everything from a herb garden to gardens featuring plants from different NC habitats. And there’s one of those life-size chess boards with large pieces. What a fun way to spend an afternoon!

What a great spot to take the kids. There is a wonderful area where kids can explore, play cames and enjoy in an enclosed space. And there are tons of beautiful gardens to explore and picnic in. The walking paths are pretty good. Also love their family programs which are well run and organized.

I love the Botanical Garden. My bf and I go almost every weekend. The plants are gorgeous, and I love the natural approach they go for. No, there aren’t as many flowers blooming in perfectly planted rows, but there is a natural horticultural approach that I really appreciate. My bf and I love to look at the wildlife as well. The tadpoles are STILL THERE in Oct!! That makes us really happy. The chess set is a lot of fun to play with and really neat to watch. Families will play at this and it’s really adorable to watch. It’s also a really nice place to eat lunch. We like to go, walk around, eat a bag lunch, and then read books by the little cabin. It’s one of my favorite free places in CH and I’m so happy it exists. 😀