Follow butterflies and photograph flowers, plants, trees and bushes from around the world at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. During your visit, you’ll learn about horticulture and ecosystems.This extensive array of gardens was founded by a retired textile executive and opened in 1999. Daniel Stowe allocated almost 400 acres (161 hectares) of countryside for his dream gardens. Over 100 dedicated staff and volunteers keep the area beautiful year-round. They run activities, educational programs, guided tours and cultural events for all ages throughout the year. The garden is an ongoing project, with additions already planned for the next several decades.Enter through the white Tuscan columns of the majestic Visitor’s Pavilion. Columned pergolas lead off from both sides, surrounding the perennial colors of the Four Seasons garden. Meander through traditional cottage blooms, a crape myrtle grove and fountains. Sit and relax by the trickle of fountains at the Azalea, Serpentine and Ribbon gardens, or stroll along the short Woodland Trail. Children will love exploring the potted plant shape of the willow maze. Signs throughout the maze explain the importance of each part of the plant, from the roots to the leaves. Butterflies fill the Orchid Conservatory in autumn. During the cooler months, the Orchid Spectacular showcases 5,000 different species along with information about the risky expeditions orchid hunters took in Victorian times. Come in the evening during the Christmas season to enjoy hot chocolate in a winter wonderland of fairy lights.The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is located just outside of Belmont, west of Charlotte, on the border of North and South Carolina. Driving is the best way to get to the gardens and free parking is available on-site. The garden is open daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The paved walkways make most of this attraction accessible for strollers and wheelchairs, except the natural Woodland Trail. You are allowed to bring a picnic.