Extension Master GardenerSM volunteers (EMGVs) had long dreamed of creating a teaching garden where the public could visit and learn. Then in 2015, they learned the Extension office was moving from downtown Asheville to 49 Mt. Carmel Road—a location that offered the land and space needed to plan and develop a dedicated, on-site teaching garden.
A garden master plan was initiated and by 2016 EMGVs began to build out the new gardens. By 2020, The Learning Garden (TLG) included eight distinct gardens and a composting demonstration site. In 2021, two additional gardens were added – the Pollinator Garden and the Dye Garden.
Public Events in the The Learning Garden
The Learning Garden and the quarter-mile walking trail around the property are open to the public weekdays, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is closed on state holidays when the Extension office is closed.
Thursdays in The Learning Garden. New in 2023! The Learning Garden is offering the public the opportunity to learn in the garden, on selected Thursdays, February – October. Each month, programs will be selected from one of five Series: Dahlia Series, Dye Garden Series, Rose Garden Series, Sun and Shade Garden Series, and Vegetable Garden Series. Visitors can also walk around and soak in our lovely gardens! Our gardens open at 9:00 am and demonstration programs run between 10-11:30am. The programs in each Series are currently being finalized and will be posted here as soon as the schedule is completed. To ensure a good experience, attendance will be limited and registration will be required for all programs. Details about the events will be shared on the Events Calendar, located on the bottom of the Events page, as they are finalized.
We invite you to visit often and observe the gardens as they prepare for spring and progress through the growing season.
What Will I See When I Visit?
A visit to The Learning Garden affords you the opportunity to view the garden areas described below and to learn successful horticultural practices that lead to beautiful, healthy gardens. The Learning Garden complex consists of these individual areas:
The Gateway Garden
Two gateway beds greet visitors to the site. These beds utilize native plants and pollinator-friendly perennials. Their flowering is staggered across the seasons to provide pollen, nectar, and seeds that attract birds, bees, butterflies, and other insects year-round. The welcoming beds are designed for low water use and low maintenance.
The Rose Garden
The Learning Rose Garden was started in 2018 with the goal of providing a hands-on educational experience with growing, fertilizing and pruning different types of roses.Today it includes over 50 roses representing 20 different varieties from new to historic species. Many are fragrant. If you enjoy roses, want to grow roses, and learn more about their care, visit the Learning Rose Garden. If you visit early in the spring, look for Rosa Alba-Plena, thought to be the white rose of York. Later in the season, look for Mother of Pearl, a modern Grandiflora and Monsieur Tillier, a reblooming Old Garden Tea Rose. Bonfire, a rambler, is a good example of a pillar rose, being supple enough to wrap around an obelisk.
In 2020, a Cottage Rose Garden was added to demonstrate roses growing in mixed beds. See roses in this garden, too, as well as hydrangeas, phlox, gladiolus, and other perennials.
The Four Seasons Garden
The Four Seasons Garden consists of plants that have multi-season interest. This can mean flowers, fruit, berries, and seeds as well as plants that have interesting structure, whether evergreen or deciduous. Many plants attract pollinators, including bees and butterflies. A number of plants are self-seeders or spread easily. As a bonus, several of the plants are also fragrant. All plants are labeled so visitors to the garden can go home with many ideas for their own garden.
The self-seeded and spreading plants continue to grow vigorously and in 2021 the team was able to dig up over 150 plants for the annual MG plant sale. We expect to offer even more varieties to the public at the 2022 Plant Sale on May 7, including some native shrubs.
The hydrangeas donated and hybridized by Tom Raney at the MHRC all bloomed in 2021 and are growing fast. Six varieties are all in full sun and were bred for reduced size and an upright blooming habit. All are now available in local nurseries. New additions to the garden planted in the fall include a Bottlebrush buckeye and a Calycanthus ‘Burgundy Spice’, a sweet-shrub with dark purple leaves. Plans for 2022 include installation of a harvested black bamboo fence at the garden entrance where native annual and perennial vines will be displayed.
The Sun & Shade Garden
In the Sun & Shade Garden you will find a wide variety of plants chosen not only for their beauty, but for other characteristics as well. Some plants are extended season food sources for pollinators, birds, and wildlife. Some of the plants are sun loving while others fare better in shady conditions. As the garden has evolved and light conditions have become more apparent, many plants have been relocated within the garden for better growing conditions, demonstrating that a garden is never static.
A focus for this growing season is planting more edibles among the ornamentals to demonstrate the beauty and practicality of growing food in unexpected places. We’ll have Rainbow Swiss Chard, several varieties of kale, a couple of blueberry bushes, and perhaps rhubarb. It looks to be an interesting and bountiful season in the Sun & Shade Garden.
The Vegetable Garden
The Vegetable Garden demonstrates several different ways to raise vegetables and herbs for individuals or families, even with limited space and unfavorable soil conditions. Our goal is to share knowledge and techniques with gardeners who wish to savor the rich experience of harvesting fresh produce from their own gardens. We change our plantings each year so come and see what we are growing this year.
The Composting Area
The composting area teaches people how to compost, what to compost, and how to use the finished product. An area of interest for the future is vermi-composting. When in place, the addition of vermicompost will improve the overall condition of all the gardens. Sustainability is an elusive goal, but composting will take us a long way toward reaching it. By composting the plant material that grows on The Learning Garden site, and then returning these nutrients to the garden soil, we show our visitors the complete cycle of plant life.
In 2021, two additional gardens were added – the Pollinator Garden and the Dye Garden.
The Dye Garden
The purpose of the Dye Garden is to educate the community about how to grow plants used to dye clothing and raw fiber. This garden will grow a variety of plants: weld, indigo, and madder. Seedlings will be started in the spring of 2021 and planted in the garden in May. The dye plants will be a combination of annuals, biennials, and one plant, madder that needs three years to mature. The Dye Garden is situated along the path running from the Four Seasons Garden to the Vegetable Garden.
The Pollinator Garden
Th purpose of the Pollinator Garden is to educate the public on the importance of pollinators and to improve the productivity of the adjacent vegetable garden. Flower beds will be planted around the perimeter of the vegetable garden to help attact pollinators and other beneficial insects. Having an abundance of flowers from early spring to frost will attract and keep nature’s workers in the garden year-round, resulting in a natural pest-controlled community. This garden will be planted in the spring of 2021 and should quickly develop abundant flowers. Come out and visit.