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, 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

Celebrating 25 Years of Service to the Community
1993 – 2018

Plant it Night! Event - February 16; 7 PM – 9 PM - Natural Sciences Center
A fun yet educational 25th Anniversary fundraising event for the Community Arboretum. Build your own succulent planter and learn how to care for the plants.
Jan Hendrickson, retired Horticulture Adjunct Faculty and owner of Green Designs LLC and Roanoke Master Gardener Donna Haley will explain horticultural best practices when it comes to creating and caring for succulent planters in your home. You will build your very own succulent planter. Valentine dessert snacks will be provided.
Follow the links below for more information on cost and registration:
More information (PDF)
Mail-in registration form (PDF)

2018 Garden Tour
April Tour to Norfolk cancelled.
More information on other tours coming soon.

2018 Plant Sales

All sales are held in the VWCC Greenhouse or City Garden Deck behind the Natural Science Center.

Perennial Sale
Friends Members Only Sale: April 6, 2 PM – 3 PM
General Public: April 6, 3 PM – 5:30 PM; April 7, 10 AM – 1 PM

Spring Annual and Vegetable Plant Sale
Friends Members Only Sale: April 26, 3 PM – 5:30 PM
General Public: April 27, 3 PM – 5:30 PM; April 28, 9 AM – 1 PM

Fall Accents Perennial And Pansy Sale
September 21, 3 PM – 5 PM
September 22, 10 AM – 1 PM

Poinsettia Sale
Friends Members Only Sale: December 7, 2 PM – 3 PM
General Public: December 7, 3 PM – 5:30 PM; Dec. 8, 10 AM – 1 PM; Dec. 10, 3 PM – 5:30 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
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