Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at JMU

The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, is a public urban garden and forested greenspace that preserves native plant species


Mondays - Fridays 8 am - 4 pm 

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Harrisonburg-Rockingham Artisan Trail (site #76)

Professional Distinction: Demonstrations, Exhibition, Instruction, Wholesale Production

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The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum (Arboretum) is a 125-acre urban botanical preserve located within the city of Harrisonburg and the campus of James Madison University (JMU). It provides an ideal combination of naturalized botanical gardens (33 acres) and forest (92 acres), complementing each other and serving the purposes of research, teaching, and demonstration. This green space is home to a diverse ecosystem featuring native plants of the mid-Appalachians (woodland wildflowers, azaleas, and rhododendrons); a collection of non-native trees, shrubs, and bulbs (magnolias, Kousa dogwoods, hollies, daffodils, etc.); an Oak-Hickory Forest; a lowland swale; a shale barren; herb and rose gardens; a pond habitat; and a wetlands garden. An outdoor amphitheatre, terraced gardens, a Pavilion, a Monarch Way Station, and the Frances Plecker Education Center (Education Center) enhance the complex further.

The only arboretum located on a public university campus in Virginia, the Arboretum is a haven in the middle of urban growth and development, a place where nature can be honored, appreciated, protected, and studied. The Arboretum is a center for the conservation, enjoyment, and interpretation of plants and ecosystems of the Shenandoah Valley, and serves as an outdoor biology laboratory and environmental educational center with tours, lectures, seminars, workshops and other public programs. Four full-time staff, five part-time staff, and work-study interns help keep the Arboretum thriving.

The Arboretum’s philosophy embodies an appreciation of nature as part of intellectual development. JMU faculty members, in disciplines ranging from the arts to physical education to the biological sciences, use the Arboretum as an outdoor classroom and laboratory for research and study. Students from nearby elementary and secondary schools visit the Arboretum and can enjoy educational tours, designed to progress both their science knowledge and interest in flora and fauna. Staff dedicated a Poet-Tree (a tree with a poem basket attached for leaving poems just written and/or taking poems left within the basket) as an arboretum feature intended to encourage the appreciation of nature through writing and offering publicly shared poetry. In addition, the staff manages the Monarch Way Station to teach migration and butterfly habitat needs.

The Arboretum host wonderful dynamic workshops that is administered by very well knowledgeable people and we facilitate workshop classes ranging in different ages. Our recent workshop has been wonderwater wokshop which works to provide elementary children to be young explorative biolife scientist. We also provide workshops such as Bonsai Workshop targeting older crowds.


Jan Mahon




780 University Blvd
Harrisonburg, VA 22807

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