Gardens Past to Present

The Latham Memorial Garden at Tryon Palace

Though gardens at our historic sites and museums across the state may bloom in spring, they provide an ideal space for recreation and reflection year-round.

From the world-renowned Southern Heritage Apple Orchard at Horne Creek in the west to the varied historical gardens at Tryon Palace in the east, there's so much to explore.

Here are few places across North Carolina where you'll find a unique blossom or two.

Gardens Nestled Among the Foothills

Apples on a tree at the Southern Heritage Apple OrchardThe Southern Heritage Apple Orchard

Horne Creek Farm. Pinnacle

The special magic at Horne Creek Historical Farm is in the heritage apple orchard, where 800 trees produce 400 varieties of apples raised long ago. With such exotic varieties as Rusty Coat, Summer Cheese and Wolf River, North Carolina once led the nation in apple production.

A freestanding tree up to 12-to-16 feet tall, and a backup tree of about six feet attached to a fence and trellis system, impresses thousands of visitors annually. Beautiful apple blossoms are an enchanting springtime treat. The heirloom apples also make wonderful apple cider, butter or fritters.

Visit the Orchard at Horne Creek Farm

Kids draw after getting inspiration from the grounds at SECCAThe Grounds at SECCA

Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem

The historic estate on which SECCA is located was designed by Peabody, Wilson and Brown in the English manor style and was completed in 1929. The grounds of the 20 acre estate were designed by West Virginia landscape architect Brooks Wigginton.

Picnic on the back sun porch or on the grassy lawn, overlooking the small but beautiful lake year-round.

Visit the SECCA Estate Lake and Grounds

Garden Oases in the Heart of Raleigh

Executive Mansion Rose PergolaNorth Carolina Executive Mansion Gardens

North Carolina Executive Mansion, Raleigh

Despite being less that 100 years old, the Executive Mansion’s gardens are remarkably full of colorful perennials, shrubs, trees, bulbs and annuals combined in interesting ways. Visitors to the garden delight in seeing both native and exotic plant species, a koi pond, beehives, and a large vegetable garden that provides produce for the first family year round.

See the Gardens at the Governor's Mansion

The Rodin Courtyard at the N.C. Museum of ArtRodin Sculpture Garden and Museum Park

North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh

The peaceful Rodin Sculpture Garden at the North Carolina Museum of Art features a reflecting pool studded with water lilies and surrounded by bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin. Tall bamboo plants also grow in the garden, providing a lush, green backdrop for those who wish to take a moment to reflect on one of the granite seats located around the perimeter of the courtyard.

Encompassing 164 acres of fields, woodlands, and creeks, the Museum Park presents a unique setting to explore the intersection of art and nature. The Park invites visitors to encounter over a dozen dramatic works of art while riding bicycles, walking dogs, or wandering along scenic paths. Visitors can also enjoy picnics on a grassy hill or jog along wooded trails.

Visit the Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Art

A view of the "History of the Harvest" exhibit at the N.C. Museum of HistoryHistory of the Harvest

North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh

This living, thriving exhibit showcases North Carolina’s agricultural legacy. The block-long exhibit flourishes in planting beds along Bicentennial Plaza, a well-traveled walkway between the State Capitol and the State Legislative Building.

History of the Harvest serves as an exciting outdoor classroom that gives visitors a hands-on opportunity to learn firsthand about North Carolina agriculture, from medicinal plants grown by American Indians before European contact to new corn hybrids developed by using advanced plant-breeding technology. Visitors also learn about agricultural-related contributions to the state’s economy, how North Carolinians have used plants, and the global issues of hunger and sustainable agriculture.

Experience Agricultural History Firsthand

A sign wecloming visitors to Prairie Ridge EcostationNative North Carolina

Prairie Ridge Ecostation, Raleigh

Walk amongst sun-loving plants native to North Carolina, and see a wide variety of green-friendly gardening technologies, including a water-harvesting, green-roofed pavilion; a dry stream bed that directs runoff to a rain garden; two small bog gardens; and an above-ground pond.

It is a magical and peaceful place to visit throughout the year and enjoy three seasons of flowers along with a myriad of colorful insects and birds.

Visit This Sustainable Gardening Complex

Gardens of Historical Proportions of the East

The Bonner House garden at Historic BathPlantings that Recall an Earlier Time

Historic Bath, Bath

From explorer John Lawson in the 1700s who raised strawberries, foxgrapes, peaches, wild figs and Indian plums in his garden, to foods introduced by the enslaved community including gourds, okra, watermelon and yams, and Southern favorites such as tomatoes, squash and peppers, the manicured plots at Historic Bath remind thousands of visitors about foodways of the past.

Sunflowers were a welcome addition to add cheer, and prized marigolds helped keep garden pests way. The purple, peach and reds of the fruits and vegetables and the yellows of the flowers added joy to colonial times.

Experience the Gardens of Colonial Bath

The gardens at Edenton's Cupola House in full bloomThe Gardens of America's Prettiest Town

Historic Edenton, Edenton

The design of the Cupola House's exquisite Colonial Revival Gardens are based roughly on a 1769 map of Edenton. Herb beds take their shape from the lower panels of the Cupola House doors, which was also a known 16th century garden technique, and the garden volunteers make every effort to grow plants that could reasonably have been grown here before 1800. Relax in this place of quiet beauty in Edenton’s business district.

Visit Edenton's Colonial Revival Gardens

Tulips in the Kellenberger Garden at Tryon PalaceFour Seasons of Gardens on 16 Acres

Tryon Palace, New Bern

Thousands of garden lovers delight in the 16 acres of historic gardens surrounding the reconstructed Tryon Palace, home to colonial Governor William Tryon. Four seasons of gardening offer camellias and winter blooming ornamentals, wilderness paths, a native plants riverwalk and shade-dappled allẻe.  

Stroll through the Victorian era gardens, the expansive kitchen vegetable garden and be sure to admire the Maude Moore Latham Garden, an 18th-century formal parterre garden designed by noted 1950s landscape architect Morley Jeffers Williams.

Visit the Victorian Gardens of New Bern

Longleaf pine trees emerge from wire grass at Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature PreserveNatural North Carolina at Parks Statewide

North Carolina's state parks protect the our state's natural diversity through careful selection and stewardship of land. From the majestic longleaf pine forest at the Weymouth Woods Sandhills Preserve to Carolina Beach State Park, one of the few places where the Venus flytrap is naturally found, state parks showcase the Tar Heel State's natural treasures.

Find a State Park Near You