History and Habitat: Stepping Out to Wing Haven Gardens 9

A local Charlotte sanctuary for both birds and people, inspiring passion for our natural surroundings.

Throughout Charlotte, you’ll find all manner of hidden gems and special local “secrets” that embody the uniquely southern spirit of the Queen City. Wing Haven happens to be one of them. Located right in the heart of Charlotte, this world-renowned historic site invites travelers and natives alike to experience a natural oasis set among the bustling cityscape that we love to call home.

Wing Haven is comprised of two gardens spread across four acres. The first, Clarkson House and Gardens, offers refuge to over 120 bird species. Its grounds are rich with Southern horticulture, and its namesake, Elizabeth Clarkson, was a widely published author and bird enthusiast. According to the Wing Haven website, in an article published in Audubon in 1945, Mrs. Clarkson wrote, “… from that moment when I suddenly became interested in birds, each addition was weighed also from the ‘bird’s point of view,’ and bird baths, feeding stations, suet baskets, and hummingbird feeders became garden necessities.”

The Elizabeth Lawrence House and Garden is the second Wing Haven property and is located just steps away from the Clarkson House. Ms. Lawrence was already very well-established as a supremely talented garden designer and author when she came to Charlotte, and this property became known as her living laboratory. For thirty-five years, this garden was the subject of her very prolific writing, creating an intrinsic value that extended far beyond any tangible real estate and continues to live on today. To the absolute delight of many of our local historians, both the house and garden were entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, and in 2008, it was purchased by the Wing Haven Foundation.

This sanctuary is such a special part of Charlotte, as evidenced by the many community enrichment programs, camps, and events that it offers to its members and the general public.  Topics covered in these initiatives include horticulture, ornithology, health and wellness, and more. The fall season is especially eventful for Wing Haven, so we encourage our fellow Charlotte residents to check out their website for a detailed listing of everything this organization has to offer.

There is no question that Wing Haven’s programs are an asset to our community. Their Preschool Environmental Education Program, for example, is an outreach initiative designed to benefit at-risk preschool-aged children. You simply can’t put a price on the benefits of something like that, but the operating costs are significant. Volunteers offset that cost, and in exchange, are given an experience they simply wouldn’t find anywhere else. Otherwise, the foundation is supported by private donations, membership dues, proceeds from special events, and venue rentals.

For over 35 years, a fundraising mainstay for Wing Haven has been its biannual plant sales, which occur in the spring and fall. These events are a treasured resource for both seasoned and novice gardeners, and because 100% of the proceeds benefit Wing Haven, shoppers can feel good about how their money is being spent. The next sale is open to members only on October 5th and open to the general public on October 6th through 8th. For more information, visit WingHavenGardens.org or call 704.331.0664.