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Our Garden's History

Paul Ciener loved horticulture. He toured great gardens around the world, studying the plants and garden styles he encountered. All the while, he dreamed big. His dream was to create a great garden in the heart of the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina. It would be a gift back to the region that had given so much to him.

Since his death in 1998, The Welcome Center, Horticulture Center and garden space on 5 of 7 acres have been completed at Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, located in the Kernersville historic downtown district. It is the only such public garden between Raleigh and Charlotte. When totally completed, it will have more than 25 garden areas including the following: Piedmont Woodland, Japanese, Wetland, Conifer, Greenhouse, Amphitheatre and Children's Learning Garden. The site is a place of education, beauty and enjoyment for area residents and visitors from all parts of the country.

Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden is a source of community pride, tourism benefit, environmental education and horticultural splendor for the pleasure and enjoyment of citizens and visitors. It is intended to express the highest ideals of community values, civic space, learning, respect for nature and the rewards of nurturing plants and the environment. The aim of the garden is to achieve several specific purposes: education, passive recreation, and the cultivation, display, preservation and conservation of garden plants. It is to be a living classroom, civic gathering space, and a place of beauty.

The Welcome and Visitors Center was completed in 2011 and when fully developed over the coming years, the garden will feature: amphitheater, woodland, more than 25 individually styled garden areas, event spaces, wetlands, greenhouse and a horticultural operations complex. The Garden has year-round programming which attracts a steady audience of young and old, experienced gardeners and garden enthusiasts, scholarly researchers and casual tourists, and especially those who desire to learn more about plants and gardening for their own enjoyment and edification. As well, the Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden currently provides outstanding facilities for events such as meetings, conferences, symposia, weddings, parties, reunions, and other business and community activities. Public programming includes educational programs, a training liaison with Forsyth Technical Community College and Forsyth County Public Schools, plant exploration ventures, and national and international horticultural collaborations.

The Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden has three primary goals:

  • Present an aesthetically pleasing, fine modern public garden;

  • Provide public education programs for children and adults; and

  • Introduce plants to the greater community of nursery professionals, horticulturists, and gardening public of the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina and beyond.


A steadily growing group of enthusiasts and supporters has carefully and thoroughly planned for this exciting public garden. Under the loving guidance of his two sons, Greg and David, Mr. Ciener's vision has been meticulously crafted into a comprehensive plan for a world-class public garden.  

The garden occupies a prime site just north of Interstate 40 in the Kernersville Historic District – an eight-block area of homes and other structures from the 18th to early 20th centuries. Also in the district is Körner's Folly, a tourist destination and the former home of Jules Körner, grandson of the town's namesake.

Planning began in 2001, to bring the vision of this new garden to fruition. Through the considerable design, artistic, and creative talents of Chip Callaway (Callaway and Associates, of Greensboro) and Robert Hayter (The Hayter Firm, of Pinehurst), conceptual work was undertaken on a garden master plan. The collaboration of Callaway, a nationally recognized garden designer, and Hayter, a renowned landscape architect, yielded a unique, compelling, and original design that is met by visitors with excitement and high interest. Thousands of plants have been planted throughout the 3 of 7 acres already developed and many more are being nurtured in our near-by 5 acre nursery. After years of careful planning and creative thinking, this new garden has been open since 2011 and has hosted thousands of visitors from all over the country.

Educational programs such as the Chip Callaway Lecture Series have successfully brought to the Garden an outstanding range of national and international speakers giving the highest quality educational information to our attendees. Many friends and members have enjoyed our hands-on workshops as well as our Garden sponsored tours of our sister public gardens in NC. The Third Thursday lectures during the summer continue to draw plant enthusiasts to the Garden.


PJCBG has professional affiliations with: American Public Garden Association; American Horticultural Society; North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association; Perennial Plant Association; and Sentinel Plant Network. We are members of the Chambers of Commerce of Kernersville, Winston-Salem and Greensboro.  In 2011, we received the 2011 Landscape Design Award (commercial) for our Perennial Border from the Perennial Plant Association.

Our Garden's Vision

The vision of Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden is to create a dynamic public garden in Kernersville, North Carolina that surprises visitors from near and far by its scope, quality and benefits for tourism, community events and civic pride.

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