Coker Arboretum is at the center of one of the most beautiful university campuses in the nation: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Managed by the North Carolina Botanical Garden, it is one of the Garden's oldest tracts.
In 1903, Dr. William Chambers Coker, the University's first Professor of Botany and the first chair of the University Buildings and Grounds Committee, began developing a five-acre boggy pasture into an outdoor University classroom for the study of trees, shrubs, and vines native to North Carolina. Beginning in the 1920s and continuing through the 1940s, Dr. Coker added many East Asian trees and shrubs. These species, closely related counterparts to many North Carolina native plants, enhanced the beauty and educational value of the Arboretum. Today the collection consists of a wide variety of plantings including flowering trees and shrubs as well as bulb and perennial displays. The Arboretum has something unique to offer during every season of the year.
In April of 2003, the Arboretum celebrated its 100th Anniversary with exhibits and activities all over the University's campus and Chapel Hill. Part of the celebration was the production of an art book, A Haven in the Heart of Chapel Hill: Artists Celebrate the Coker Arboretum, which depicts the scenes and specimens as though one were on a walking tour of this special garden (see sidebar). The book makes a wonderful gift for anyone acquainted with the Arboretum, and the proceeds of its sale go toward ensuring the garden's care in the future.
Visiting the Coker Arboretum
The Arboretum is open dawn to dusk daily, year-round. Coker Arboretum is located next to the Morehead Planetarium & Science Center on the UNC campus, at the corner of Country Club Road and Raleigh Street. (For GPS navigation, enter the address 399 E. Cameron Avenue, Chapel Hill.) Click directly on the map in the sidebar at right for more location information. The University of North Carolina website also shows the location of the Coker Arboretum in relationship to the campus.
A limited amount of metered parking is available on Raleigh Street and there are a few visitors' spaces in the Morehead Planetarium paid parking lot (stay on Franklin St. instead of turning at Raleigh St., and the lot is on the left). If no spaces are available in these areas, there is metered parking available on Franklin Street and paid parking lots along Rosemary Street (from Raleigh Street, going north away from Cameron Avenue, go past Franklin Street and turn left onto Rosemary Street).
Visitors to the Arboretum can refer to interpretive brochures, stored in marked storage boxes at several locations, to guide their walks through this historic site. Parents and teachers can download the Kid's Scavenger Hunt worksheet [PDF] to provide an exciting pedagogical activity.
Volunteers are always needed to keep the Coker Arboretum running. Please refer to our Become a Volunteer section for more information.
Become a Friend of Coker Arboretum
If you're interested in supporting the Coker Arboretum through a donation or endowment, download the Friends of Coker Arboretum form [PDF] and mail it to us.
The Coker Arboretum is now booking weddings (Note: ceremony only; no receptions). Please review the Policies and Procedures [PDF] before contacting Arboretum staff. If you have additional questions or want to book your wedding, please contact the Arboretum curator, who will provide you with an application.
Last updated by Laura Cotterman on October 18, 2012 at 11:22:33 am.