Stowe Botanical Garden is a must-see attraction in the summer for garden fanatics looking for ideas or those who want to kick back in the sun in one of the region's most beautiful spots and breathe in nature.
Daniel J. Stowe, a retired textile executive from Belmont, reserved 450 acres of prime rolling meadows, woodlands and lakefront property in 1989 and established a foundation to develop a world-class botanical garden he hoped would one day rival those in Europe.
The garden is for more than just the eyes. During the warm months, various parts of the garden fill with delicious fragrances.
Head Gardener Doug Ruhren gives top olfactory billing to the roses, which bloom throughout the seasons. Some of the gardens' more fragrant flowers are its day lilies, which peak in June and July, he says. Casablanca and formosa lilies bloom in August, and are especially fragrant. And don't miss the angel trumpets, which bloom throughout the warm season.
Because the heaviest heat of the day tends to mitigate the smells of the garden, the best time to enjoy its scents is early in the morning, says Ruhren.
Stowe is one of the most ideal spots in the region for a picnic, and coolers and blankets are welcome. But don't forget the sunscreen and insect repellent.
Those who want to improve their gardening skills or share their gardening talents should consider volunteering. Volunteers assist the horticulture staff, serve as tour guides for the education department, help out in the garden and gift shop, and provide assistance with plant sales, special events, and projects.
Stowe is located on South New Hope Road just west of Charlotte on the outskirts of Belmont. The gardens are open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm. Admission is $8 for adults and $4.50 for children under 4. Learn more about Stowe by calling 704-825-4490 or visiting www.dsbg.org.