I thought I was in heaven when I went to Filoli, but yesterday I went to a garden in North Carolina that set my heart soaring even higher – the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont. It’s quite one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve seen on my travels this year, and what I couldn’t believe was the way it looked in the middle of winter - the temperature was just above freezing and this has been the weather pattern for weeks here – yet the garden looked serene under a Carolina blue sky and with many plants in bloom.
This site was the brain child of Daniel and Alene Stowe, who bought some 450 acres in 1989 and set them aside with the idea of making a garden in the years to come. This was no mean feat and Stowe, who had made his fortune in textiles, wanted these gardens to be perfect, so although construction and planning went on throughout the 1990's, it was not until October 1999 that 110 acres of gardens finally opened to the public. Just over 10 years later, these gardens continue to bloom, and they certainly go right into the top league that I've visited on my travels.
The Canal Garden (top and above) is quite astounding, with its glorious fish sculptures and fountains … and this was the middle of winter, so I can only imagine how wonderful it must be in full bloom in the summer! And this gives access to the other eight garden "rooms", which must also be quite a sight to behold in bloom.
Today, much of the garden is beginning to mature, so each year will see more plants in bloom. But it also has the added advantage of its magnificent Orchid Conservatory (above), which is not only beautifully designed, but you will see bromeliad, orchid and epiphyte displays that make your heart leap, like the wall below. Much thought has gone into these displays and they are certainly unique.
The Conservatory only opened in 2008, and the amount of planning, both architecturally and botanically that went into this building, is abundantly obvious when you look at features like the epiphyte arches (below), which allow you to see just how these plants grow.
I have no qualms in saying that this is one of the best gardens I've visited in the US and one that I shall go back to time and time again, to see it throughout the seasons. This must surely be one of the most innovative and exciting botanical gardens to open in the last twenty years and I will certainly return whenever I visit North Carolina!