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The Community Arboretum

at Virginia Western

The Community Arboretum is a two-acre educational garden located on the campus of Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, Virginia. Eleven separate gardens and plant collections surround a centrally located amphitheater and are home to approximately 700 labeled plant taxa. The garden collections include a Children's Garden with a plant maze and plant zoo. Our newest addition, the City Garden includes sustainable features such as rainwater collection systems and drip irrigation. The Arboretum is also an official site for an All-America Selections Display Garden.

For more information, please contact Clark BeCraft at 540-857-6388.

The Community Arboretum is available for rent! For more info about renting, click here.

For directions, please refer to our Visiting VWCC page.

Admission and Hours of Operation

The Community Arboretum is open to the public with free admission every day of the year from sunrise to sunset. Wheelchair accessible.

Benefits to the Community

Creates a unique educational opportunity.

Stimulates interest in valley-wide beautification.

Promotes environmental consciousness.

Provides interest as a tourist attraction.

Offers a beautiful setting for outdoor gatherings.

News & Events

The Gazebo Project Campaign
Help us “raise the roof” with your purchase of commemorative pavers.
The iconic gazebo at the Community Arboretum has remained the focal point of the gardens since 1993. The structure is in need of repair but cannot be refurbished due to Commonwealth of Virginia construction guidelines, Therefore we are raising funds to replace the existing structure with a new gazebo. This project provides you with the opportunity to gift commemorative pavers. Engraved pavers will be incorporated into the floor design and walkway around the gazebo.

$25,000 Matching Gift Challenge
Give today and your gift will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor!
Engraved pavers may be placed with the following contributions:

  • $1,000, 8x8 placed in the floor under the roof of the gazebo. Includes Souvenir mini-brick and a Certificate of Authenticity.
  • $500, 4x8 placed in the floor under the roof of the gazebo. Includes a Certificate of Authenticity.
  • $250, 4x8 placed in the floor under the roof of the gazebo.
  • $150, 4x8 placed in the walkway around the outside of the gazebo.

CLICK the GIVE NOW button on the top right of this webpage to make your contribution today, OR
You may use this form and send a check made out to the Virginia Western Educational Foundation with Gazebo Project in the memo line.
Mail to:
Virginia Western Educational Foundation
3093 Colonial Ave SW
Roanoke, VA 24015
Please include text to be placed on paver with your check (Maximum of 20 characters per line, including spaces and punctuation. Maximum 6 lines per 8x8 paver and 3 lines per 4x8 paver.)
Text will be engraved in all capital letters and will be centered on the paver.
The Community Arboretum reserves the right to review and approve all inscriptions and to deny inscriptions that are deemed to be inappropriate.
Paver Reservation Form (PDF)

Gazebo Project Update (as of January 2020)
Current Goal is to Raise $25,000 to take advantage of matching gift
Initial project cost estimated at $70,000
$26,000 seed money in place. Contributed by the Community Arboretum, the VWCC Horticulture Club, and an anonymous donor
$15,793 received in contributions eligible for the matching gift.
Plans exist to begin construction of the project Fall of 2020.

2020 Events

2020 Four Seasons Event Series at the Arboretum
January 19, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM in the Natural Science Center
Winter Afternoon at the Community Arboretum
Join us for cookies and hot cider, presentations, and greenhouse open house.
2:30 PM Lee Hipp, Founding Arboretum Director: Presentation on the history of the arboretum with emphasis on the role of the gazebo in the design of the arboretum.
3:30 PM Clark BeCraft, Horticulture Program Coordinator: Presentation on the National Garden Bureau 2020 Plants of the Year.
Greenhouse Open House: Blooming Orchids. Members of the Blue Ridge Wildflower Society will be on hand to answer your orchid questions.
Free gift with a contribution to the Friends Program or the Gazebo Project Campaign.
Everyone Welcome! Free Event! (Snow Date January 26)

More information to come for our Spring, Summer, and Fall events. Tentative dates: April 26, July 26, October 25.

2020 Plant Sales

The Virginia Western Campus is currently closed to students and non-employees through June 10th. This closure is in response to the threat of the Novel Coronavirus and may be extended if needed.
Our Perennial and Spring Plant Sales have been cancelled. For more up to date information please visit our Facebook page regularly or call us at 540-857-6388.

All plant sales take place in the Virginia Western Greenhouse or in and around the Natural Science Center at the Community Arboretum at Virginia Western Community College.

2020 Perennial Sale - CANCELLED

2020 Spring Bedding Plant & Vegetable Plant Sale - CANCELLED
Annuals, tropical houseplants, herb plants, vegetable plants

2020 Fall Pansy & Perennial Sale
Friends Only Pre-Sale: September 25, 2 PM – 3 PM
Public Sale: September 25, 3 PM – 5 PM; September 26, 10 AM - 1 PM

2020 Poinsettia Sale
Friends Only Pre-Sale: December 4, 1 PM – 2 PM
Public Sale: December 4, 2 PM – 6 PM; Dec. 5, 10 AM – 1 PM

Explore the Gardens

The Community Arboretum has a garden for everyone! Listed below are a few of the beautiful gardens you can visit at Virginia Western. In addition to these, there are a number of smaller gardens and plant collections including an Annual Garden, Wildflower Collection, and Groundcover Collection.

Conifer Garden

Conifer Garden

Over one hundred different cone-bearing trees and shrubs can be found growing in the Conifer Garden. From Dwarf Chamaecyparis to Giant Dawn Redwood, these plants exhibit an incredible variety of size, color, and form. The conifers are grouped by genus, thus forming mini-collections of Taxus, Picea, Cryptomeria, and many more.

Perennial Rainbow Garden

Perennial Rainbow Garden

The Perennial Garden Borders the west side of the Arboretum and displays many hardy herbaceous perennials in a rainbow color theme. When you enter the garden you will see yellow flowering plants. As you stroll through the garden, you will find orange flowering plants followed by reds purples and blues.

Rock Garden

Rock Garden

Located adjacent to the amphitheater's gazebo, the Rock Garden is home to more than 70 different shrubs and herbaceous perennials. The plantings are completed with rock outcroppings and bordered by intersecting arcs of mortarless stone walls. A pleasing combination of Dwarf Conifers, Butterfly Bushes, Sedums, and many other plants are on display.

Shade Garden

Shade Garden

Beyond the entrance arbor you will discover the Shade Garden filled with more than 150 different low-light preferring herbaceous perennials, spectacular flowering shrubs and complementary small trees. A few of the plants that can be found in this garden include Hostas, Ferns, Wildflowers, Hydrangeas, Viburnums, Stewartia, Magnolia, and Serviceberry.

Children's Garden

Children's Garden

Conveniently located next to the amphitheater, the Children's Garden has become a popular community attraction. Young visitors have two areas to enjoy, a plant zoo and a maze. The zoo is home to 70 different plants with animal names such as Ostrich Fern, Elephant Ear, Zebra Grass, and Lamb's Ear. Two water features act as magnets, attracting the children to the splashing water, goldfish, and of course, Horsetail and Parrot's Feather. The maze is a challenging, large scale puzzle composed of 200 yews covering 1,000 square feet. The children love it!

Herb Garden

Herb Garden

The Herb Garden is located just below the Perennial Garden. The collection is buzzing with activity during the growing season as many bees visit the Thyme, Anise Hyssop and Lavender plants in the garden. The garden also features several varieties of annual herbs during the growing season including Basil, Lemon Grass and Dill.

Sensory Garden

Sensory Garden

The Sensory Garden is located near the entrance to the Arboretum and adjacent to the greenhouse. A stroll through the garden will stimulate your senses with the velvet leaves of the Lamb’s Ears, the sound of the bubbling fountain and the aroma from the strategically placed herb plants. The attractive paver walkway and the raised planting beds make many of the plants in this garden accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.

City Garden

The City Garden is located on the East side of the Arboretum and flanks the Natural Science Center. This garden is a model for sustainable gardening with 2 rain gardens, 2 rainwater collection systems and drip irrigation. The expansive deck and patio area are perfect venues for receptions held in the Natural Science Center.

Horticulture Programs at Virginia Western

Virginia Western offers a career studies certificate in Horticulture Technology designed to prepare students for employment in the horticulture industry and/or to provide training for those who want to improve and upgrade their existing knowledge and skills.

Please click here to view the horticulture courses to learn more.

Students in the Horticulture Program

Horticulture Students at Work

VWCC students are exposed to various types of plants and get hands-on experience in the Horticulture programs. Pictured here are Angela Parks and Matthew Penney dividing ornamental grass for future plantings.

Volunteer Programs

The Community Arboretum is currently expanding its network of volunteers. The Arboretum, a two-acre site with approximately 700 plant species, is in need of additional plant enthusiasts to fill a variety of positions.

Volunteer programs benefit individuals, groups, communities, and beyond. Whatever contribution you or your organization may offer will be appreciated and utilized to fit any schedule -- hourly, daily, bi-weekly, seasonal, or annual pledges of service. On behalf of the Community Arboretum and its existing volunteers, we invite you to help us expand our community outreach efforts.

Positions of greatest need are as follows:

Tour Guides: To provide interpretive tours for the growing number of groups visiting the Arboretum.
Speakers: To share information and insight pertaining to plant materials found in the Arboretum and / or their function in a landscape setting. Those with special interests or expertise in particular plant materials or gardening styles are greatly needed.
Event Helpers: To assist with development of topics and content for workshops, seminars and summer camp as well as event logistics.
Newsletter Contributors: To supply information for the seasonal newsletter.
Plant Collection Curators: To provide expert advice relating to improvements in the arboretum plant collections.
Garden Helpers: To respond to seasonal needs in the Arboretum as well as general maintenance and support of existing plantings and their surroundings.
Specific Project Helpers: To assist repair and improvement projects requiring skills related to carpentry, paver and wall installation, landscape design and installation, water gardening and outdoor power equipment maintenance and repair.

If you are interested in volunteering, please email stating the area of interest and your contact information. You may also contact Clark via phone at 540-857-6388.

Friends of the Arboretum

Help keep our programs — and plants — alive and growing!

By supporting the Friends of the Arboretum Program, you are directly supporting our day-to-day operations, projects and community outreach. You may choose to support the Annual Operating Fund, the Gazebo Project and the Community Arboretum Endowment Fund.

Friends at the Individual and Family/Dual level are entitled to the following benefits:
Seasonal newsletter - See our Spring 2019 Newsletter
Discounts on seminars, workshops and special events
Garden tours to East Coast destinations at a Friends special rate
Friends only designated times during plant sales
Volunteer opportunities

Friends at the Sponsor level are entitled to all of the above benefits plus:
A complimentary poinsettia and a spring flowering basket from our plant sales

Friends at the Patron level are entitled to all of the above benefits plus:
Friends Contributor Card allowing reciprocal privileges at over 300 participating American Horticultural Society Gardens

Friends at the Benefactor level are entitled to all of the above benefits plus:
A complimentary 1-hour landscape consultation from a member of the arboretum/horticulture staff