Photos by Savannah Watts:
Photos by Hailey Blevins:
BELOVED INSTITUTION SINCE 1963
The Daniel Boone Native Gardens, located near downtown Boone, contain an outstanding collection of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers. Hundreds of plant varieties provide a progression of blooms throughout the growing season. Opened in 1963, the three-acre Daniel Boone Native Gardens are an educational and conservation effort to nurture rare and endangered plant species. A project of the Garden Club of North Carolina, these public gardens comprise a bog garden, fern garden, rhododendron grove, rock garden, rock wishing well, vine-covered arbor, a pond alongside the historic Squire Boone Cabin and several grand vistas. The wrought-iron gates at the entrance were made by a descendant of Daniel Boone who hunted in the area.
On March 13, 1961, the North Carolina Garden Club and the local Boone Garden Club first broke ground on the project, which was first conceived by landscape architect H. Stuart Ortloff a few years before in 1957. An 8-acre tract of land beside the Horn in the West outdoor drama site was leased from the town of Boone for $1 a year, for a period of 49 years in order to make space for the project. Finally, after years of construction and dedicated hard work from many people involved, the Gardens were dedicated on June 29, 1963.
In 1963, a gatehouse was added to the Gardens, which greets visitors at the entrance to the Gardens to this day. The gatehouse was constructed from stones found locally in the area to bring to the Gardens the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The birdbath was added in 1964 when junior gardeners throughout the state decided to collect nickels and dimes to pay for the donation of the birdbath.
In 1973, a fernery was added when a two-acre plot was leased to the Garden Club. Today where the fernery once was stands benches and a scenic observation gazebo.
Not far into the Gardens themselves you can find the Squire Boone Cabin, which was placed within the area to honor Daniel Boone’s father. Behind the cabin you can find a meditation maze and a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. In 1992, a bog garden was added where the reflecting pool once stood.
Finally, in 1996 the pickin’ porch was added to the scenery to bring in the idea of mountain folk hospitality and bring people back to the days where families and neighbors would gather on the porch and relax together at the end of a long day.
To this day, the Gardens operate entirely on donations and volunteer efforts to keep the original dream alive. On any given day, one can find numerous workers weeding, clearing brush, moving mulch and any other tasks of routine maintenance. The Gardens are a beloved institution to the tiny community of Boone, and their constant upkeep is vital to the continuance of the institution.
The Daniel Boone Native Gardens are open during daylight hours from May through October.
The Daniel Boone Native Gardens features many different plant species that bloom at different times of the year.
In March and April, in bloom are the skunk cabbage, the trout lily, claytonia, bloodroot, wood anemones, wild violets, teaberry, wild ginger, serviceberry, silver bell tree, dogwood, redbud, mayapple, Jack in the pulpit, cherry trees, Virginia bluebell, bluet, wild columbine, cutleaf toothwort and false Solomon’s seal.
In May and June, in bloom are bleeding heart, shooting star, amsonia, wild iris, ladyslippers, flame azalea, rhododendron, shortia, columbine, goatsbeard, mountain magnolia, firepink, liatris, foam flower, turkey’s beard, Solomon’s seal, coral bells, Carolina rose, mayapple. Yucca, cinnamon fern, pitcher plant, trillium, ox-eye daisy, stonecrop, squaw root and fringe tree.
In July and August, in bloom are purple cone flower, New England asters, clematis, fairy bells, lobelia, sweet azalea, turks cap lilies, malva, bee balm, galax, trumpet vine, sunflowers, Jerusalem artichoke, cardinal flower, milkweed, horse nettle, Indian pipes, thimbleweed, boneset, Virgin’s bower, swamp mallow, featherbells, evening primrose, wild geranium, skullcap, nightshade and spiderwort.
In September and October, in bloom are goldenrod, stewartia, witch hazel, Devil’s walking stick, New England asters, clematis, turtlehead, ironweed, Joe Pye weed, poke, jewelweed, Jerusalem artichoke and sourwood tree.
The Daniel Boone Native Gardens is open for private events as well, including weddings. Over the last fifty years, many couples have exchanged their vows beneath the towering trees at the Gardens with the beauty of nature all around them. Certainly the setting makes for an unforgettable celebration of love.