As a new-to-North-Carolina resident, I am enamored of the climate and the verdant flora and fauna of my new home state. North Carolina offers the visitor an array of experiences associated with its distinct regions: the Coastal Plain, the Piedmont, and the Mountains. While there are many gorgeous gardens throughout North Carolina, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden offers a uniquely eclectic array of experiences all year ‘round.
For its beauty, creative offerings, accessibility, and expanse, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a fan favorite. Inside the welcome center, I found friendly staff, maps and other information, plus the gift shop. There are many ways to while away a day at the garden. Here are some great suggestions to do just that!
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is situated in the Piedmont. The Piedmont is in the middle of the state. To the west is the gateway to the high country, that is, the Mountain region. Approximately equidistant to east is the Coastal Plain. Ideally situated in the Piedmont City of Belmont, just a stone’s throw from Charlotte and nearly adjacent to the South Carolina border, sits Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Its location that has earned the attribution “Carolina’s Garden.”
The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
With its expansive 110 acres of magnificence, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden offers the visitor the opportunity to wander for hours among its elegant plantings, which vary with the change of seasons. Water features lend a calming vibe and help to slow the pace of an all too often hustle-bustle existence. Visitors will notice tagged descriptions and definitions of each of the species on show. Wayfinding is easy. And there is much to see, smell, feel and experience. Allow a few hours to tour the main garden. Take a seat on one of the many strategically placed benches. You’ve entered a “no hurry zone.”
The Butterfly Garden
Learn about butterflies in their natural habitat at Butterfly Bungalow. With verdant blooms providing a magnet for butterflies, of especially lively seasonal interest is the busy Butterfly Garden. North Carolina is an important segment along the migration route of butterflies. Visitors of all ages are delighted by the activity of the butterflies as they go about their business, seemingly oblivious to the viewer. As we learned in science classes, butterflies are critical to our ecosystem and food supply because of their special role in transferring pollen from the male to the female part of the flowers.
A Birding Excursion
Special programming is available to members and non-members throughout the year. A favorite among participants is the birding tour, led by an expert. This tour takes the group through the garden with a special purpose – an eye to the sky! Your intrepid guide will show and explain to you the particulars of bird migration – who passes through and when – will point out specific birds around the property and share with you their habits and quirks. Be sure to bring your binoculars for best viewing and wear comfortable shoes. On a warm day, wear a hat and sunglasses, and bring a bottle of water. There’s a lot of ground to cover!
Tour with the Horticulturalist
Of course, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is staffed with expert horticulturalists who have experience in various environments. This leisurely tour of the garden allows ample time for inspection, questions, and fun facts. This tour is quite popular with weekend home gardeners seeking best planting recommendations, answers to issues they might be experiencing at home, optimal layout for gardens, sun and shade insights, and relative hardiness among the possibilities. It’s not uncommon for individuals to travel from distant parts of the Carolinas to access such expert horticultural advice.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a place for all ages. Be sure to pick up a map at the welcome center and follow it to a wonderful play area for the kids. Along with a conventional playground, you’ll find ample room to run, hide and seek, a playhouse to engage young dreamers plus twists and turns to a pretend throne “room” amidst the trees. This area is expertly designed for imaginative play, running, jumping, twirling and gales of laughter.
Wander the Woods
There are two significant and quite different trails attached to the property: Seven Oaks Trail and Persimmon Trail. To access the Seven Oaks Trail, once inside the garden, proceed through the Prairie section – unique unto itself in terms of its genuine prairie vibe. There you will discover Seven Oaks Trail’s circuitous path to the river’s edge. This trail encompasses about two and a half miles and is an easy walk to the river and back. Mostly flat, it is rustic. Be sure to watch your step, as ruts and bushes abound. Sturdy shoes or boots and a walking stick are helpful here. Your reward is a spectacular river view and a bench along the shore to rest, if desired. Note: Seven Oaks Trail can also be accessed apart from the garden via New Hope Road; that hike is longer.
The Persimmon Trail is dedicated to phenology; the study of plant and animal life cycles. Through observing and recording changes in the natural environment, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden participates in national research to follow natural patterns of growth and anomaly, reporting findings to the federal level, and thereby informing natural and climate changes for scientific interpretation. Plantings in these woods are labeled and recorded by experts. Volunteers interested in helping with this process are welcomed. The Persimmon Trail is located near the parking area and is readily accessible at any time.
Summer is a magical time at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, whether day or evening. Locals flock to the venue around dusk for either family or grown-up entertainment offerings. Check the website for the schedule of summer movie nights and summer music offerings. In both cases, guests can enjoy ample refreshments, including a popular food truck. Music events often cater to adults. Dinner and a movie or concert al fresco are fan favorites during the warmest months.
The Magic of Christmas
Not to be undone by winter weather, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is the place for fun and excitement for all ages during the holiday season. Replete with the sights and sounds of the holiday, an annual visit can’t be missed. Enter the welcome center festooned with decorations and enlivened with seasonal music.
A cherished special feature is an impressive, extensive Christmas Village. Children “ooh and ahh” over the village cottages and characters. And that is just the beginning. The tour outside offers more music, thousands of lights, fountains aglow, stops for hot chocolate and s’mores, a miniature holiday train and memories to last a lifetime!
- Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is in Belmont, NC, just a few miles from the South Carolina border. Belmont is in Gaston County, near Charlotte, and minutes from Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The city of Belmont is charming in its history and a favorite stop along the route to the High Country. Be sure to check in advance to ascertain the current status of Orchid House operations.
- Visit North Carolina, tourism
- On our site: Blue Ridge Hiking Company: Hiking with the Pros
- On our site: Kindred Spirit Mailbox: North Carolina Hidden Treasure
- Also on our site: A Wellness Tour in Asheville, North Carolina
- And: Queen City: A Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina
Where To Stay in Belmont:
Where to Eat in Belmont:
- Nellie’s Southern Kitchen (NSK)
- The String Bean
- The Lodge Tavern & Tap
- The Bottle Tree
- Cherubs Café
- The Everyday Market
- Old Stone Steakhouse
- Sammy’s Pub
- Jekyll and Hyde Taphouse Grill
- Estia’s Kouzina
-All photos by Monica Mattioli. Cover photo by Monica Mattioli.