Thursday, July 1, 2021

Polly's Garden at UNCC Botanical Gardens

Been a while since you’ve visited UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens? There’s a fun new reason to make a trip to campus, just 20 minutes north of uptown.

The Polly Rogers Memorial Sensory Garden recently opened to the public. This beautiful new space, created in honor of a UNCC student who was studying to be a Special Education teacher when she passed away in 2018, offers a beautiful space for both peaceful contemplation and playful whimsy.

The entrance to the Polly's Garden is at the southern end of the Van Landingham Glen (here's a map), a 7-acre garden featuring rhododendrons and native plants of the Carolinas. (There's also the Susie Harwood Garden, well worth a visit, too)

As soon as you enter Polly's Garden, you're greeted with stimulating things to see and do. On your right is a music area, full of brightly colored cymbals and pipes. Beside the music station is an installation of river stones full of colorful rocks to play with. Nearby is a small library of nature-related books to read during your time in the gardens. Just beyond that are fun little fairy garden diorama blocks. All around are vibrant totem poles, each decorated with a different theme.

The center of the garden features an infinity path with gorgeous stonework, including mosaics. The stone bench along the edge of the path is a perfect place to pause and listen to the adjacent bubbling stream.

The garden is designed to be accessible for all and offers lots of opportunities for people of varying ages and stages to connect with nature.

If you get a chance, visit the nearby McMillan Greenhouse (currently closed for COVID-19). Among many other cool features (like a dinosaur garden and orchid room), this is home to a rare Titan Arum (meet Rotney the Magnifiscent, II), one of the world's largest flower structures when it blooms. They can reach 10-feet tall. Interestingly, they also smell like rotten meat, which is why they are sometimes called the corpse flower (hence Rotney's clever name).

Parking information for the gardens is below, but might I suggest you make an adventure of it and ride the light rail trail to campus (here's how!).   

The gardens are free and open dusk to dawn daily. 

How to get there:
Free public parking for the Botanical Gardens and Greenhouse is available behind the greenhouse in lot 16A, located at 9090 Craver Rd., Charlotte, NC, 28262. The entrance to the Polly's Garden is at the southern end of the Van Landingham Glen portion of the Botanical Gardens. You can access it through the trails in the Glen, or at the Bonnie Cone gated entrance on Mary Alexander Rd. Here's a map that will help you navigate.

Keep in mind, this trip is doable by light-rail and foot if you're up for an adventure! Here's how

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