Written by Nate Tschaenn
The second year Fellows have embarked on the North American Experience portion of the Longwood Graduate Program. This year’s destination is just a few states south of Delaware in North Carolina. We arrived in Charlotte last night, our westernmost destination, and will be making our way north to Wilmington stopping at some of North Carolina’s great public horticulture destinations along the way. First stop along out trip is Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden (DSBG) located about thirty minutes outside Charlotte in the city of Belmont.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a relatively new public garden having had its official grand opening in October of 1999. In 1991, the founder of the Garden, Daniel J. Stowe, donated the four hundred acres of prime property to be developed into a botanical garden. He was a retired textile executive who envisioned the evolution of this garden over a period of forty years as an internationally renowned garden.
There are currently twelve display areas at DSBG including a white garden, formal display gardens, and perennial gardens. There is also an 8,000 square foot orchid conservatory, which opened in 2008 and showcases tropical plants and a large collection of orchids in unique and artistic fashion. There are also many whimsical fountain displays throughout the gardens, and a beautiful, multi-million dollar visitor pavilion serves as the grand façade.
It was a treat for us to get some perspective on a public garden that is still growing and trying to determine its full potential. There is a fifty-year master plan approved in 1994 that has been serving as a general guide for the expansion of the gardens since it first opened. DSBG has been constantly growing and still has a large amount of space to expand. The annual attendance has also been rapidly growing and is now around 100,000 visitors per year. The gardens and visitor center have been cleverly designed to support a growing attendance and are capable of supporting up to 600,000 visitors per year. A three-acre children’s garden is the next major expansion project slated to begin in spring of 2013, and is estimated to cost about six million dollars.
Daniel Stowe Botanic Gardens was an outstanding first stop on our journey and definitely worth a stop for anyone traveling to the greater Charlotte, North Carolina area.