Begun in 1966 on the newly-established Charlotte campus of the University of North Carolina system, the Botanical Gardens were the brainchild of biology professor Dr. Herbert Hechenbleikner and UNC Charlotte founder, Bonnie Cone.
The Gardens were begun to serve as a living classroom for biology students and as a horticultural and botanical resource for the campus and greater community. This was a unique beginning, as university botanical gardens usually spring from a formal horticulture or botany department. Despite the absence of those departments, the Gardens founders believed a university campus was not complete without the educational and cultural resource of a thoughtful, managed botanical garden.
This vision became possible through the support of members of the Charlotte community, especially Mr. Ralph Van Landingham, and the hard work of Dr. Hechenbleikner and current director, Dr. Larry Mellichamp. Over the last 40+ years the Botanical Gardens have evolved into the special resource that exists today – comprising 10 acres of outdoor gardens, a 4500 sq ft glasshouse with attached workspace, and teaching classroom that also contains a 1200+ book botanical and horticultural library.
UNC Charlotte is the 4th largest in the UNC system and is classified as a research-intensive university. The campus is located in University City—one of the fastest growing communities in the greater Charlotte region. Enrollment for 2007 was 22,300 students. The Botanical Gardens are located on the east side of the campus, near university buildings and housing, with easy access and some visitor parking. We offer free admission to our gardens, and estimate that we receive around 25,000 visitors per year. We have recorded visitors from 49 states and over 30 different countries.