The North Carolina Botanical Garden (about 700 acres (2.8 km2), plus 210 acres (0.85 km2) of nature preserves) is a botanical garden operated by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The primary goal of the Garden is to research, catalog, and promote the native plant species of North Carolina. Admission is free, and the Garden is open seven days a week, with special educational programs offered regularly.
The history of the Garden begins in 1903, when Professor William Chambers Coker began planting trees and shrubs on the central campus (now Coker Arboretum). In 1952, the Trustees of the university dedicated 70 acres (280,000 m2) forested for development of a botanical garden. An additional 103 acres (0.42 km2) were donated by William Lanier Hunt. Considerable additions and expansion of the Garden took place from the 1960s onward. The most recent expansion effort is a sustainable Visitor Education Center, designed by architect Frank Harmon.
Today the Garden comprises 14 collections and display gardens, containing some 5,900 accessions representing about 2,500 species of the 4,700 plant species known to be native or naturalized in North and South Carolina. Highlights of the Garden include:
Battle Park, 90 acres (360,000 m2) – forest land in the center of the Chapel Hill.
The Fern Collection, containing Southeastern fern species.
Garden of Flowering Plant Families – a traditional botanical garden, showing evolutionary relationships between flowering plant groups.
Horticultural Therapy Demonstration Garden – heirloom vegetables and flowers varieties in plantings designed for persons with limited mobility and reach.
The Mercer Reeves Hubbard Herb Garden — some 500 species, including 52 Rosmarinus officinalis cultivars, arranged in a Culinary Garden, Economic Garden, Medicinal Garden, Native American Garden, and Poison Garden.