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The Daniel Boone Native Gardens Celebrate 55 Years, 5th Annual Fairy Day Approaching

By Savannah R. Watts

Rated #22 of on Trip Advisors’ Top Things to do in Boone, the Daniel Boone Native Gardens are tucked right in the heart of downtown Boone, NC near Horn in the West. The DBNG is home to over 200 native plant species and attracts many locals and visitors with its three acres filled with brilliant colors of nature. Thanks to numerous volunteers and the support of the Boone community, this year the DBNG celebrates the 55th Anniversary of nurturing many endangered species. 

Their website displays a calendar for wildflowers, trees, and other species when they are in bloom to refer to. Many brides use the Gardens when planning a wedding or reception, and other local organizations use the space for events such as writing groups or sorority events. The plant sanctuary is open for reservations at any time.

The Gardens’ 55 years of success is reliant upon the people behind the gardens. Quincy Parham, board member of the DBNG, says “Every garden is always a work in progress.” This volunteer organization relies on the support of the community to flourish. Master Gardeners work in the Gardens to maintain the endangered and native species it holds, while many plots are sponsored and cared for by local garden clubs. Overall, according to new board member Sarah Gilley, “The story about the people behind the Gardens is what makes the Gardens the beauty that they are.”

Recently, the Gardens just updated their “bee” home, added benches made and placed by local Eagle Scouts, and relocated some plants saved from Hardin Road with the Blue Ridge Chapter of the NC Native Plant Society.


Natural and Historic

The Gardens were created by the Boone Garden Club and the Garden Club of North Carolina in 1963 as a plant sanctuary designed by Asheville garden architect Doan Ogden. This sanctuary includes a variety of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and ferns, giving the garden an abundance colors from spring into early fall. Visitors can discover a series of garden rooms including a Bog garden, Fern garden, Rockery, a secluded meditation retreat, and the Rhododendron grove—a great spot for bird watching or photography lovers. Other unique attractions include a rock wishing well, vine covered arbor, several grand vistas, and the Reflection Pond beside the historic Squire Boone Cabin.

The historic nature of the DBNG begins at the entrance with crafted by Daniel Boone VI of Burnsville, NC, a direct descendent of the pioneer. These massive, unique gates were donated to the Gardens by the Southern Appalachian Historic Association. Inside the Gardens, visitors can marvel at the Squire Boone Cabin, a century-old, rustic log cabin. Built by Jesse Boone Cragg—great-great-grandson of Jesse Boone, youngest brother of Daniel—the cabin was originally located in the remote wilderness below Grandfather Mountain. This year, they have ordered a new gate at the office entrance to match the historic gates made by Daniel Boone VI. 

Throughout the garden, visitors can enjoy the native plants in bloom during various parts of the year. David Kline, former board member, current advisor for the gardens, and Master Gardener since 2008, says “Many people come to the Gardens and are discouraged that they don’t see an abundance of blooms and colors, but these Gardens aren’t like what you see in Raleigh or Durham. These plants are native, so their colors are more subtle, less colorful, but native in bloom.” The flowers of the Gardens are always planted, but they only appear when in bloom, which makes the Gardens and the plants their special in comparison to over flower plots across the state.

DBNG is maintained and nurtured by volunteers and Master Gardeners. Volunteers include local garden clubs, Eagle Scouts, student organizations or athletes, and the occasional random volunteer. Volunteering time isn’t the only way they remain open, many people donate gardening materials as well such as weed-eaters or electric clippers.

Caitlin Amorocho, contract gardener for the Gardens and herbalist, hopes to attract more visitors to the Gardens this summer by giving “Plant Walks” on Saturdays. These plant walks are for visitors to learn about the nature of native plants as well as botany and the medicinal and edible uses of these plants. She hopes that visitors will come to learn about how interesting and rare these native plants can be, as well as how they can be used. 

Currently, visitors can see flame azaleas or native mountain laurels on the end of their blooming cycle. The Bog Garden displays cinnamon ferns and Jack in the Pulpit, which Amorocho says was used as a Native American root crop. Visitors can also view Fringe Trees in full bloom, or Solomon’s Seal that Amorocho says was also used medicinally and as a crop by Native Americans.

Open daily from May to October during sunlight hours, the Gardens have an entry fee of only $2 for visitors ages 16 and older. There is a wheelchair accessible entrance located at the Rockery.

Fairy Day at the Gardens: July 14

This year the DBNG will host their 5th Annual “Fairy Day” on Saturday, July 14, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. This free event is designed for children and families to come spend the afternoon in the Gardens learning about plants and butterflies. Children and families are encouraged to wear fairy or superhero costumes and bring a picnic to the Gardens. Face painting will available at a small fee.

“Fairy Gardens” will be created by participants and volunteers from natural materials such as moss, pine cones, and sticks. These miniature landscape designs are home to the Gardens’ fairies. David Kline says, “We love these little creations from children, and we let they stay in the Gardens as long as the structures will stand. Some children even create tables and chairs, porches and beds for the fairies they hope will come live in their “Fairy Gardens.”

This event is a day dedicated to teaching children about the fascinating aspects of nature. Dr. Annkatrin Rose, botany professor at Appalachian State University, will engage children in learning about the life cycle of monarch butterflies. Children will also be able to “meet the bugs” and learn about pollinators and their importance in nature.

Rebecca Hutchins, board member and Fairy Day coordinator, expresses her excitement for the event saying, “This is our most popular summer event. When our gardens were founded 55 years ago, I’m sure the original garden club members hoped young children would play on the lawn for some generations.” Families, visitors, and local groups are all invited to attend. The DBNG anticipates a large crowd but welcomes everyone to come spend the day in the beauty of the Gardens and learn about the native plants and ecosystem.

Species in bloom during this event will include purple cone flower, Northeastern asters, sweet azalea, sunflowers, swamp mallow, wild geranium, and many more.

The Daniel Boone Native Gardens are located at 651 Horn in the West Drive, Boone, NC. For more information about the Gardens or their upcoming evets, visit www.danielboonenativegardens.org or find them on Facebook.

More photos by Savannah R. Watts: