Creating The Learning Garden
Extension Master GardenerSM volunteers (EMGVs) had long dreamed of creating a teaching garden where the public could visit and learn. For years, EMGVs had maintained demonstration gardens on borrowed sites around Asheville. Then in 2015, they learned that the Extension office was moving to 49 Mt. Carmel Road—a location that offered the land and space EMGVs needed to plan and develop a dedicated, on-site teaching garden.
While the garden’s master plan was under development, EMGVs tackled clean-up of the long-neglected plantings around the Mt. Carmel Road building. By 2016, they were ready to lay out the new garden designs, improve the soil, and install plants. Plants were selected to fit Buncombe County growing conditions and to adapt to the different microclimates that exist among the new garden areas.
Work continued over the next three years to transform the site into an inviting educational center for the gardening community! Today, The Learning Garden (TLG) includes five unique “gardens” and a composting demonstration site.
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 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 attractive 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 different types of roses. It includes a selection of garden-friendly, low maintenance roses. To date, there are 45 roses representing 19 different varieties—from new on the market to historic species. In 2020, we will add an area with roses in a mixed bed, cottage-style garden. If you enjoy roses, want to grow roses, and learn more about their care, visit the Learning Rose Garden.
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.
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.
Demo Days are planned throughout 2020 when The Learning Garden will offer special programs and activities for the public. The Learning Garden Demo Day dates for 2020 are: March 11, June 6, August 8, and September 22. The featured activities are being planned and times will vary. Once planning is completed, the details will be added to the calendar on the Events page. In addition to Demo Days, a series of five Saturday Seminars dedicated to growing vegetables are planned on-site. Click here to view the 2020 Saturday Seminar Schedule.
We invite you to visit often and take advantage of the many educational opportunities available at The Learning Garden.