The Southern Highlands Reserve is a native plant arboretum and research center dedicated to sustaining the natural ecosystems of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We accomplish this mission through the preservation, cultivation and display of plants native to the region, and by advocating for their value through education, restoration and research. Located in Western North Carolina at an elevation of 4500 feet, the varied topography and forest types found on our 120 acres allow us to emulate many of the plant communities found in the higher reaches of the Southern Appalachians.

 

Plan Your Visit!

Southern Highlands Reserve offers tours for individuals, small and large groups by reservation.

 

Genius Loci: Southern Highlands Reserve

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What They Are Saying

Dan Nadenicek

Dan Nadenicek

Dean, College of Environment & Design
University of Georgia

At the Southern Highlands Reserve (SHR), Robert and Betty Balentine, Director Kelly Holdbrooks, and SHR staff members are engaged in an atypical but highly important type of philanthropy: providing for the future of the region and the planet through stewardship, research, and advocacy about sustainable landscape practices.

When you visit, you will find that intended purpose subtly linked to an amazing garden experience of native plants, water features, trails, and vistas. Those stewardship lessons have also become the basis of an annual symposia series in which renowned horticulturists, landscape architects, scientific researchers, and others present their work and comment on the importance of the SHR vision.

Gary Smith

W. Gary Smith

FASLA Landscape Architect
for SHR Masterplan

More than any garden I know, at the Southern Highlands Reserve, it's almost guaranteed that you will make a personal connection to nature. When we made this garden, all we had to do was pause, listen, and put our egos out of the way - and that's what allowed us to tap into the deep inner spirit of this place.

Through design we abstracted and intensified the beauty, joy, and inspiration. It was almost as if we all were under some sort of magic spell. Even though everyone put in a huge amount of effort, in the end it was as if the place had made itself. As a designer, I can't imagine there will ever be another experience like it.

Allan Armitage

Dr. Allan Armitage

Professor Emeritus of Horticulture
University of Georgia

I am one fortunate fellow. I have traveled throughout the world to some of the most beautiful gardens, preserves and parks. I am constantly asked, "What are your favorite places to visit?" Without a moment’s hesitation, I mention the Southern Highlands Reserve. Without sounding melodramatic, I can honestly say visiting SHR provides natural beauty, tranquility and serenity unlike anywhere I have ever traveled. And thanks to the dedication and hard work of the founders and staff, I will be able to visit for many more decades to come.

Put on the tropics, put on the far reaches of the world, put on any dream you have – but be sure you put the Southern Highland Reserve on your bucket list. It is too wonderful too miss.

What's New

Water is our most precious resource. We’ve all heard this phrase before, but it always seems the things that are a part of our lives every day are the things we most often take for granted. Access to clean water would not be possible without the services provided by the ecosystems that support our global habitat. Read more to learn water mitigation strategies we use at SHR that you can use at home to deal with runoff and drought during extreme weather conditions. ... See MoreSee Less

Water is our most precious resource. We’ve all heard this phrase before, but it always seems the things that are a part of our lives every day are the things we most often take for granted. Access to clean water would not be possible without the services provided by the ecosystems that support our global habitat. Read more to learn water mitigation strategies we use at SHR that you can use at home to deal with runoff and drought during extreme weather conditions.

 

 

The bark of the yellow birch, pictured here, is an important part of the high elevation ecosystem of the Parkway where it serves as the favored nest material for the Carolina northern flying squirrels that nest here on the Parkway. This distinct subspecies of endangered squirrel is restricted to high elevation forests on the Parkway, unable to live elsewhere in the south where climates are generally too warm for them and they are out-competed by the common southern flying squirrels. #treetuesday #parkwayscience #Repost @blueridgenps #sprucechronicles ... See MoreSee Less

The bark of the yellow birch, pictured here, is an important part of the high elevation ecosystem of the Parkway where it serves as the favored nest material for the Carolina northern flying squirrels that nest here on the Parkway. This distinct subspecies of endangered squirrel is restricted to high elevation forests on the Parkway, unable to live elsewhere in the south where climates are generally too warm for them and they are out-competed by the common southern flying squirrels.  #treetuesday #parkwayscience #Repost @blueridgenps #sprucechronicles

 

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Southern Highlands Reserve 5-Day Forecast

Real-time forecasts from the Southern Highlands Reserve weather station

Overcast
Thursday

Overcast

High 56°
/
Low 49°

Chance of Rain
Friday

Chance of Rain

High 57°
/
Low 38°

Clear
Saturday

Clear

High 66°
/
Low 39°

Clear
Sunday

Clear

High 63°
/
Low 46°

Rain
Monday

Rain

High 56°
/
Low 47°

Support the Reserve

Your donation will make you a part of a group working toward a vision of education, restoration, and research in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The Southern Highlands Reserve is a nonprofit organization under the IRS code section 501(c)(3).