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 five distinct gardens and a composting demonstration site. In 2021, two additional gardens will be added – the Pollinator Garden and the Dye Garden.
What Will I See When I Visit?
Look for our Plant of the Month. See the Featured Plant
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 Learning 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 on the market to historic species. Many are fragrant. In 2020, a Cottage Rose Garden was added to demonstrate roses growing in mixed beds. 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 The Apothecary’s Rose, thought to be the red rose of Lancaster and used for medicinally for centuries. Later in the season, look for Mother of Pearl, a modern Grandiflora and Monsieur Tillier, an Old Garden Tea Rose that reblooms.
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 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. Two areas of interest are vermi-composting and compost tea. This year both of these activities will be added to the compost area and 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.
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.
Even though no public events are currently planned for 2021, we invite you to visit often and observe the gardens as they wake up and thrive. While on the property, we require adherence to current COVID guidelines, including the wearing of face coverings and maintaining social distancing.