The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, located on the campus of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA is “the only arboretum on a Virginia state university campus.” According to JMU’s centennial celebration website, the arboretum’s genesis began as then-university president Tyler Mills’ purchase of the 240-acre Newman Farm in 1952. The idea for an arboretum was first proposed by botany professor Norlyn Bodkin, PhD in the early 1960’s and groundbreaking for the 125-acre arboretum finally began in 1985. The project was completed in 1989 and permanently named after James Madison University’s fourth first lady in 1998.
The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is decidedly not just a pretty garden. Rather, it is a vibrant educational, social, research, festival site, plant and bulb “store,” and artistic tool serving not only JMU but the entire community as well. It is particularly well known as one of Harrisonburg’s favorite spots for marriage proposals and one of the region’s most luxurious sites for garden weddings.
Carriage rides throughout beautiful and romantic garden scenery are available to book for either the proposal or a newlyweds’ trip from the ceremony to the clubhouse. The facility staff is experienced and can provide thoughtful assistance in planning an outdoor wedding or a tented one amid the lush and manicured lawns and flora of the Arboretum. Or, if necessary or desired, an inside event can be planned at The Frances Plecker Education Center. The Frances Plecker Educational Center is available, for a fee, for rehearsal dinners, weddings, wedding receptions, and wedding dinners. “Catering, bartending, and ballroom facilities” are all available through James Madison University Catering and Events, according to the Arboretum’s wedding pamphlet.
Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
James Madison University
780 University Blvd.
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Hours of Operation:
Open Daily, Dawn to Dusk, 365 days/year
No Charge for Admission
Harrisonburg & Rockingham County Visitors Guide 2010-2011, Harrisonburg Tourism & Visitor Services.
The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at James Madison University pamphlet, James Madison University, undated.
Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens: Marriage Proposals & Garden Weddings pamphlet, James Madison University, undated.