Information on:

Chapel Hill - North Carolina Botanical Garden

100 Old Mason Farm Road


The North Carolina Botanical Garden is a unit of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We further the University's mission of teaching, research, and public service through our own mission:

"To inspire understanding, appreciation, and conservation of plants in gardens and natural areas and to advance a sustainable relationship between people and nature."


The history of the North Carolina Botanical Garden is a history of the people and botanical legacy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In 1903, William Chambers Coker, the University's first professor of botany, began planting a teaching collection of trees and shrubs on the central campus. This collection was to become the Coker Arboretum. Starting in the late 1920s, Coker and his student Henry Roland Totten, proposed a more complete botanical garden south of the main campus. Although some plantings were made by the 1940s, it was in 1952 that the Trustees dedicated 70 forested acres for botanical garden development. To this tract were added 103 acres of dramatic creek gorge and rhododendron bluffs, donated by William Lanier Hunt, a horticulturist and former student of Coker and Totten.

Hunt also helped to found the Garden's membership support organization, the Botanical Garden Foundation, in 1966. In 1961, Dr. C. Ritchie Bell was appointed the Garden's first director. The Garden's first public offering-its Nature Trails-opened on Arbor Day in April 1966. Its first state appropriation was acquired five years later in 1971, when the first employee, J. Kenneth Moore was hired.

Director C. Ritchie Bell, a professor of botany and tireless promoter of the flora of North Carolina, had enlisted the support of the Botanical Garden Foundation and the Garden Club of North Carolina to publish a book of photos with William S. Justice. Wild Flowers of North Carolina (UNC Press 1968) filled a need among wildflower lovers and students of natural history, and it brought valuable attention to the fledgling North Carolina Botanical Garden. Dr. Bell also enlisted many students to help at the Garden even before he hired its first employee.



Thursday, March 15, 2018
My husband and I visited and it was a nice, relaxing time. This time of year I couldn't expect all the flowers to be in full bloom but it was still lovely. The carnivorous plants are really interesting.

Rachel King

Friday, Dec. 15, 2017
Visited for the nighttime Winter Wonderland event while in Chapel Hill on vacation. The gardens were really pretty lit up with Christmas lights. We had a nice time wandering the low-lit trails, sipping hot coffee, in the cold weather. It felt very festive! Purchased several pieces by local artisans in the gift shop - a necklace and a piece of pottery. I am glad we made time to visit during this special event!

Kerstin Johnson

Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017
The botanical gardens are cool, but the real gem is the hiking trails behind the garden! Hiked for an hour and didn’t see another person out on the trails— though I was there on a weekday.

Kristen Carella

Monday, June 19, 2017
Lovely place. Unfortunately, it's a bit heavily travelled now, so not a good place to reliably be alone in the woods. Also, despite clear signs prohibiting it, too many visitors let their dogs off leash. I've had dogs co e at me several times here by owners who don't seem to care.

Liane Salgado

Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017
Wonderful gardens, educational center, and old forest trails to walk on nearby. Also, plants for sale and interesting gifts in the gift shop.

North Carolina Botanical Garden is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media