LOUISBURG COLLEGE'S DE HART BOTANICAL GARDENS
Location: The Gardens border US 401 on the east side, 5.5 miles south of Louisburg and 0.5 mile north of Royal Crossroads.
Hours: The Gardens are open to the public from sunrise to sunset. To determine what these specific hours are at any given time of the year, please use this online guide, making sure you have selected the correct month.
Acreage: 91 acres, which include a residence and structures for storage of botanical equipment
Emphasis: The Gardens include preserved forestation and an open area with a lake that provide protection for a wide range of botanical species. The Gardens are also open to the public for visitation, hiking, weddings, educational sessions, 5K track, community concerts, and picnicking.
Natural Environment: Prominent areas of Paleozoic granite, deciduous and evergreen forests, natural springs and streams with cascading sections, 1.5-acre lake, and more than 375 flora species and 100 fauna species. Considerable number of flora species unidentified. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has designated the Gardens as a bird sanctuary.
Previous History: The Gardens property is part of the former Myrtle Timberlake Plantation estate. Its colonial ancestral history is traced to a former land grant by Charles II of England. Records show that Richard Timberlake and his wife Mary owned considerable land in this area in 1789. One of their descendents was Julius P. Timberlake. He and his wife Martha acquired more than 2,000 acres and lived in the Rose Hill Plantation, a columned mansion with Georgian/Federalist design, located about one mile south of Louisburg on US 401. At Julius' death in 1901, his daughter Myrtle received 304.5 acres, mainly in the northeast of the Royal Crossroad. Foundations of the Myrtle Timberlake home remain on the Gardens' grounds and can be seen on a spur trail from the Waterfall Trail.
Current History: The Gardens have gone through three stages of development. The first 21 acres were called "Greencroft Gardens" because Allen de Hart and his wife Flora lived in a colonial home name Greencroft in Albermarle County (near Charlottesville, Va). The Gardens' design and development began in 1963 and the lake was constructed in 1969. Following additional expansion, the name became "Franklin County Nature Preserve." In 1984, the Gardens were charted as a private foundation and merged with the 168-acre De Hart Botanical Gardens (Section A) in Patrick County (near Stuart), Va. On April 26, 2012, the Gardens were officially given to Louisburg College. Mr. De Hart worked as a professor at the College for five decades.