On April 9, 1973, the Gardner Arboretum was dedicated and named for M.E. Gardner, the former head of the Department of Horticulture. Monroe Evans Gardner was active in North Carolina’s agricultural industry for nearly 50 years. In 1933, he was appointed head of the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State where he remained until 1956. Gardner retired in 1965 but remained involved in agricultural teaching and research activities. 

School of Agriculture group photo, circa 1951 to 1952

The Gardner Arboretum, formerly known as the Court of Ceres, is located on a one-acre tract between Patterson Hall and Burlington Engineering Laboratory. The former Court of Ceres was an undeveloped open space on the main campus that was once the site of temporary barracks and a cooling radiator for diesel generators during World War II. Chancellor Caldwell approved the renaming in December 1972 after receiving a recommendation from the Committee on Commemoration, Institutional History, and Naming of Buildings. In addition to recognizing the contributions of Dr. Gardner, the new arboretum was designated as a teaching laboratory for horticulture students. 

M. E. Gardner Arboretum with Burlington Engineering Laboratories in background,
circa 1973

Geoffrey McLean, a graduate of NC State, designed the arboretum’s landscape. McLean graduated from the NC State College of Design (formerly School of Design) in 1969 with a degree in landscape architecture. His design work includes parts of NC State’s campus, Raleigh’s Eastgate Park, and numerous other projects. McLean’s design for the arboretum included a vibrant space with a bosco (tree grove canopy), plant materials, and a sitting area. For more information about Geoffrey McLean’s work, SCRC holds the Geoffrey Duart McLean Landscape Architecture Photographs and Drawings collection.

M. E. Gardner Arboretum, Court of Ceres — Large perspective, circa 1974

At the arboretum dedication ceremony, Dr. Carey H. Bostian gave the dedicatory address. In his remarks, Dr. Bostian recalled Dr. Gardner’s contributions to the university, his profession, and to North Carolina agriculture. The arboretum was developed with contributions and donations from Dr. Gardner’s friends, former students, and the Tar Heel nurserymen. The contributions led to a vibrant space containing 24,000 plants of 50 different species, and a plaque dedicated to Professor Gardner.

Dedication Ceremony Program, Monroe Evans Gardner Papers, Box 6, Folder 10. The dedication ceremony was originally scheduled for January 1973 but was postponed until April 1973.

The Special Collections Research Center has several collections with materials documenting the history of the Gardner Arboretum, including the Monroe Evans Gardner Papers, the Office of the University Architect Records, and the Vice Chancellor’s Office Records.

If you have any questions or are interested in viewing Special Collections materials, please contact us at library_specialcollections@ncsu.edu or submit a request online. The Special Collections Research Center is open by appointment only. Appointments are available Monday–Friday, 9am–6pm and Saturday, 1pm–5pm. Requests for a Saturday appointment must be received no later than Tuesday of the same week.

Landscape Architecture 


Taylor Wolford