Notes: A photo journal follows the summary. Always check with a garden’s website to find the most current information.
Visited: April 1-2, 2021 (temperatures dipped at this time, causing some freeze damage to blooming apple trees in the area)
Location: 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Henderson, NC
Admission/parking fee: Free admission and parking.
Accessibility: Accessible parking is beside the main building (house). Almost all of the garden is very accessible, but not the sloping woodland nature trail.
Gift shop: None
Coolest (to me): The impressive older plant specimens, planted decades ago. Discovering little-known plants in the display gardens and Woodland Garden.
Nearby: Take time to go into tree-lined downtown Hendersonville, very pedestrian and full of art galleries, museums, and great places to eat. Do not miss the Hendersonville Visitor Center, where the friendliest people will help find the best area places and activities for you. From downtown, take the winding drive to Jump Off Rock for a panoramic view of several states.
Linda’s Plants & Shrubs (256 Stepp Acres Lane, Hendersonville) is a large garden center with a great view and knowledgeable staff. They grow a large selection of very healthy, full plants. I went home with several perennials, including 3-4 new varieties of ajuga to add to my collection.
Do not miss the Flower Bridge, which I would describe as a North Carolina High Line.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Hendersonville Flat Rock (exit 53 of Interstate 26 West) was a perfect location to head in many directions and the staff could not be better. It is highly rated and, although we didn’t use it, the indoor pool with an accessible chair lift was enticing.
This garden was started by Bob Bullington, who retired, moved from NYC to Hendersonville, NC, in 1979, and created a nursery and plant collection. Ten years later the land with his house and nursery was given to the county. Bullington Gardens is now an impressive non-profit 501C that works closely with the county’s Cooperative Extension and public schools.
Educational Director John Murphy at the base of a huge Sargent’s Weeping Hemlock tree, probably planted by Bob Bullington in the early 1980s. It doesn’t take long while talking to John to see his love of plants is matched by a dedication to the many area schoolchildren that experience hands-on learning in this garden.
At first the plaza looks like a pleasant place for photos or to sit and chat – and it definitely is…
… then you see the many planting beds, projects, work areas and notebooks of an active school program.
Follow the nature trail through the Native Woodland Garden, maintained by the Western Carolina Botanical Club, to discover Bloodroot, Oconee Bells and more.
I was impressed by the many plants in bloom on the First of April, when I was bundled in a scarf and jacket. I saw many wildflowers, bulbs, flowering almond, Pieris, Helleborus, lungwort…)
The Herb Garden was in its winter state and obviously the Fairy Garden needed to warm up. The popular Fairy Garden opens in June to the delight of many. Warm season plant collections include daylilies and dahlias.
Check the website before visiting. Unlike many public gardens, Bullington Gardens is open Mon-Sat and closed on Sundays.