When I lived on the north side of Charlotte, I used to go to the gardens on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, or UNCC. Here, no matter what the season, I’d find a variety of plants to photograph, either outside, or inside the greenhouse. Both venues were free to visit at any time.
Since I moved to the south side of town, some 30+ miles away, I’ve looked for an acceptable substitute, but have found none. Sure, there are a couple of gardens, such as Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, which charges a $12 entry fee, or you can get a fairly inexpensive yearly pass, but it has such a different feel. Also, DSBG is only open from 9 A.M. – 5 P.M., 7 days a week, hardly accommodating the early morning photographer who likes to get there when the light is good. There are also a couple of other smaller gardens, all have entry fees, and all are open limited hours.
The major pleasure about the UNCC gardens was that it is open all the time, so weather permitting, I could go at any time of day or night. Also, I never knew what I would find, as the gardner liked to change things up a bit. It was sort of like walking through someone’s backyard. There were always few people there, too. Usually, other than the occasional student walking by on the road, I had the garden to myself, so I could sit, contemplate, experiment, and think about shots, or not.
DSBG gets lots of visitors, so there’s always someone roaming around and people tend to like to stop, talk, and ask what you are photographing. It kind of destroys the moment.
Anyway, looks like I’ll have to make a journey to the other side of town, soon, as I am really missing the garden. I looked to see if, perhaps, there were some small colleges that had gardens, but no luck. The next nearest is Clemson, some 2 hours away, in South Carolina.