Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden

August 21, 2012 – Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden
(written by Abby Johnson, photographs by Martin Smit)

A burgeoning jewel on historic Main Street, in Kernersville, North Carolina, engages the eyes of passersby with a bright, bold and outstanding curb appeal. That very engaging entrance entices passersby to become visitors. Walking distance from downtown Kernersville grows the embodiment of the mission of Paul J Ciener, “a place of unique beauty, seeking to inspire, enlighten and connect people of all ages to world of plants, gardening and horticulture. ”

Fellow meet staff and founders

The legacy of Mr. Ciener, businessman and plant aficionado, is being fulfilled by his sons David and Greg Ciener. Armed with a master plan, along with the leadership of a strategic board and passionate staff, the Paul J. Ciener Botanic Garden has become reality. In April of 2011, this Garden officially opened its doors to the public with a small but mighty staff. This public garden is making great strides to become the next travel destination in the region. Advance planning for both the site and its interpretation, has guided the staff in the development of the seven acre property. This is key for both informed decision-making and effective communication strategies. Everyone in our visiting group believed that Paul J. Ciener Botanic Garden is headed in the right direction.

Curb your enthusiasm

This garden has some intriguing modern touches as well as traditional features, all with a nod to their Moravian architectural town heritage. The newly constructed main building, or carriage house, reflects the days of old. Equipped with state of the art technology and attractive accommodations for any speaker, this site for hosting events has been a hit within the community. What an added bonus to the town of Kernersville and the greater Triad to gain a botanic garden, a venue for weddings and other corporate events. Additionally, the carriage house has classrooms, administrative offices and a gift shop.

Kitchen garden

The garden collections are in tune with the desires of the garden’s namesake Paul J. Ciener. The kitchen garden, along the perimeter of the carriage house, is bursting with flavor and fragrance. As a point of access as well as education, patrons can have the awesome experience of planting and harvesting the vegetables and herbs grown onsite. The Pattern Garden reflects traditional gardens in the southern U.S. region with a range of plant life, complete with Chapel Hill grit for footpaths. On display during our visit are the wild wonders of summer.

Exploring the garden

Notable features of the entire garden site are the Pattern Garden and Parking Lot Garden. Yes! The parking lot was constructed with permeable pavement and the living curbs are phenomenal since they host a myriad of hens and chicks, also called Sempervivum species.

Exploring wooded area yet to be developed with curator Adrienne Roethling

Of the many guest lecturers and artist who visit the garden, Paul J. Ciener Botanic Garden has had the great fortune of working with the likes of industry greats, such as Chip Callaway and Mark Peters. Our own Dr. Robert Lyons is an upcoming guest lecturer. It was clear following our visit, that it wouldn’t be difficult to encourage anyone to visit this burgeoning jewel of Kernersville.

Chip Callaway talking to fellows

Bali Botanic Garden

(written by Abby Johnson, photographs by Nate Tschaenn)

Approximately 1300 meters above sea level is one of Indonesia’s many wonderful treasures. Bali Botanic Garden, lives up to its slogan, “culture and conservation in harmony.” The garden’s diverse collection of medicinal, ceremonial, and conservation plants reflect the pride of Bali.  The lush green landscape is lined with bishop’s wood echoed by tree ferns and an extensive palm collection. Other delightfully engaging features include collections of over 250 magnificent species of orchids, over 200 glorious species of begonias, and 2 hectares of trees ferns. These collections along with others include plants found in the wild of Indonesia as well as propagated species. Conservation efforts are desperately needed to preserve the tree ferns. Tree ferns are often cut for use as a medium to grow orchids.

Dr. Adji touring fellows through the gardens


Bali Botanic garden opened in 1959 but was devastated by a volcanic eruption in 1963. Today, about fifty centimeters of volcanic ash contributes to the rich soil mixture. The diverse population of plant life is thriving. 10% of the world’s orchid population grows in Indonesia.


Group shot in front of a giant statue depicting the Hindu legend of the epic battle between Kumbakarna Laga and a monkey army.

Our gracious guides, Dr. Adije and Mr. Wede,  re-introduced us to familiar plants from an edible perspective, like eating the new leaves of athyriums. The most coveted sighting in the garden was the amorphophallus, the largest unbranched inflorescence. Certain species have edible bulbs. Our guides also highlighted plants that offer premium prices on the market like Ratan, which grows wild here in Bali!

 Under the shade cloth of the orchid garden.

The garden composts all possible natural materials and rubbish from the garden. Three months later, the outcome is healthy organic compost used in the onsite nursery as well as compost sold to local farmers and residents.


Some of the hybrid begonias in the garden's extensive begonia collection


Overall our visit to beautiful Bali Botanic Garden was educational and inspiring. We recommend you visit Bali botanic garden too!

Group shot in the begonia garden.