Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, Harrisonburg

#2 of 29 in Things to do in Harrisonburg
Garden · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is an arboretum and botanical garden on the James Madison University campus, located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States in the Shenandoah Valley. Groundbreaking for the arboretum took place April, 1985, under direction of Dr. Norlyn Bodkin,[1] who is credited the first scientific botanical discovery along the Eastern Seaboard of Virginia since the 1940s, Trillium: Shenandoah Wake Robin, presently found at the arboretum[2]. The only arboretum located on the campus of a Virginia state university. Exhibits include a developed trail system through 125 acres (0.51 km2) of mature Oak-Hickory Forrest with two identified century specimens and a species on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Threatened Species list protected at the arboretum: Betula uber, Round-Leaf Birch.[3]

Its gardens include:

Andrew Wood Memorial Garden (1994) - 92 species including Turk's cap lily, Dutchman's breeches, wild ginger, squirrel corn, native azaleas, laurels and rhododendrons.

April Walk Daffodil Garden (1988) - a variety of daffodils.

Ballard Memorial Planting (1991) - Ginkgo or maidenhair tree, azaleas, rhododendrons, white redbuds, Chinese dogwood and blackhaw tree, Viburnum prunifolium.

Wetlands Garden (1999) - Equisetum, horsetail, and bald cypress.

Drury Planting (1993) - forest pansy redbud, Chinese dogwood, Carolina silverbell, dolchica spirea, Japanese maple, Cherokee sunset dogwood, and dwarf barberry.

Fern Valley - on ravine slopes, ferns including New York fern, hay-scented fern, Christmas fern, ostrich fern, and marginal shield fern.

Glen Dale Azalea Experimental Planting (1996) - hybrid azaleas.

Heath Family Plantings - rhododendrons, azaleas, mountain laurel, and Leucothoe.

Herb Garden (1996)

Larkin Smith Rock Garden (1991) - features 7 of 15-plus endemic species to the shale barren: yellow buckwheat, Virginia white-haired leather flower, ragwort, spike moss, and hairy lipped ferns, with "near endemic" prickly pear cactus and the shining sumac.

Mid-Atlantic Azalea Garden (1996)- azalea natives including pinxter flower, flame azalea, rose azalea, plumleaf azalea, and hybrid crosses.

McDonald Azalea and Rhododendron Garden (1995) - Azaleas and rhododendrons of many varieties.

Norlyn L. Bodkin Oak Hickory Forest (1998) An approximate 20 acre mast producing forest named to honor the arboretum founding director.

Sinclair Garden (1996)- a variety of shrubs and perennials, including Japanese barberry, kousa dogwood, leyland cypress, cherry laurel and rhododendrons.

Viette Perennial Garden (1992) - 18 varieties of daylilies and 8 varieties of Siberian iris, hostas, and Eupatoriums.
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Edith J. Carrier Arboretum reviews

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270 reviews
  • My whole family enjoyed our time there looking at the beautiful flowers, the different fish in the pond, & watching the ducks and turtles swim. We enjoyed the trails and listening to the birds. Great....  more »
  • Did this while staying in town to visit Shenandoah NP. We had a rain day and this was a great way of getting a short trip outside with the kids between rain storms. Lots of flowers in bloom even in...  more »
  • We come here often. Beautiful foliage, interesting wildlife, well landscaped, quiet little oasis in the middle of Harrisonburg. Had our wedding reception there as well. Visitor/education center is informative and well maintained with clean restrooms and drinking fountains. The picnic shelters are conveniently located and also well cleaned/maintained. If there is one issue, it's parking. Spaces are limited. There are small parking lots on both ends of the trail loop. If they are full, you can always park across the street in the JMU parking lots and walk a short distance.
  • We had a really fun time. My daughter absolutely loved it and we went on the fairy and gnome walk. She even had a chance to build a fairy home to attract fairies in the forest. only items found in the forest and nothing man-made were used to construct the fairy homes and hopes of attracting future fairies. There was a small group of us and we had two stories read to us before we started out in the forest and it was cute as could be. If you have little ones I highly recommend that it was a lot of fun.

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