Arboretum Springs into Decade with New Offerings, Changes

The North Carolina Arboretum is springing into 2020 with an array of new offerings, additions and upgrades to support its growing organization. Since its inception in 1986, the 434-acre campus located just south of downtown Asheville in Pisgah National Forest has expanded its gardens, trails, educational programs and exhibits to serve more than 500,000 people annually.

As the Arboretum enters its next decade of growth, it is excited to announce the addition of a new outdoor educational site, as well as several facility upgrades.

Willow Pond Opening Summer 2020

Thanks to generous donations from Arboretum Society members, donors, local businesses and foundations, the Arboretum is proud to announce the opening of its Willow Pond outdoor education site this summer. Originally created as a sediment collection basin during the Arboretum’s initial construction period, this reinvigorated space is now home to a great diversity of wildlife, including the rare mole salamander. As part of the renovation, Willow Pond will contain three ponds, a newly constructed boardwalk and education pavilion, trails, art, as well as 4,000 newly planted native trees, shrubs and grasses. Featuring an abundance of salamanders, frogs, birds, insects and other wildlife, this hands-on learning space and recreation site will protect the environment, delight members and visitors, and educate students of all ages for many years to come. More details on Willow Pond’s opening date and programming will be posted online at

National LEGO® Exhibit Returns in May

This May, the Arboretum is excited to welcome back the widely popular exhibit, Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® Bricks by Sean Kenney. Featuring 14 larger-than-life sculptures created with nearly 500,000 LEGO Bricks, this family-friendly national traveling exhibit draws inspiration from the living world and combines play with science to create an inspiring intersection of education, entertainment and the environment. New sculptures include a five-foot tall colorful peacock, giant dragonfly and bonsai tree. The exhibit will be on display May 9 – Aug. 2 throughout the Arboretum’s gardens.

Landscape and Facility Upgrades

As part of its planning strategy, the Arboretum has already made some significant upgrades to its facilities and garden areas. In 2018 and 2019, the Arboretum renovated its Plants of Promise Garden by installing new irrigation and plants, created new educational interpretation panels and added 700 feet of additional paved pathways for improved accessibility. In addition, new LED lighting was recently installed throughout the Arboretum’s core garden areas and main parking lot to improve safety, accessibility and enjoyment during the evening hours.

In addition to its horticulture and landscape improvements, the Arboretum is making several upgrades to its facilities, including its main parking lot and auxiliary bus parking lot. Beginning in March, the Arboretum’s two parking lots will undergo a major renovation to add additional parking capacity, improve traffic flow and create a more sustainable stormwater runoff system. The project is expected to be complete in early summer and is made possible in part through a grant from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority.

For more information on the Arboretum, please visit

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