Munroe and Becky Cobey wake up to a view of Grandfather from their home near the base of the mountain. This sight is one that they do not take for granted, as it was a top priority for them when they selected their homesite. “Grandfather Mountain is a gift that keeps giving because it changes every day,” says Becky Cobey in talking about the mountain she admires from her backyard.
The Cobey family gives back to the mountain they love by helping to protect its unique environment and by helping create learning opportunities for all who visit, from schoolchildren to the general public. They value the discovery that takes place while being in nature and feel fulfilled while exploring outside, whether that be at Grandfather Mountain or at home in their garden.
Becky grew up visiting her grandparents in Blowing Rock, N.C. Her grandmother grew up in the Martin House, the second-oldest building in Blowing Rock, and was related to H.C. Martin, the town’s second mayor from 1890-1892. Trips to Grandfather Mountain were always a part of Becky’s summer visits. Becky shared her love of the mountains, particularly Grandfather Mountain, with her husband Munroe. In 2007, they began traveling from their home in the North Carolina piedmont to spend their summers in Linville.
Munroe and Becky’s daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, and their four grandchildren also have a place in their hearts for Grandfather Mountain. Becky regularly brings the grandchildren to visit the bears and other animals. Before they even arrive at the nature park, they can always check the weather on the mountain just by looking out their window!
When the campaign to build the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery was underway, the Cobey family knew that they wanted to be a part of it. At first, they were unsure about how they could best contribute, but that all changed when they met Lee Hemmings Carlton at the farmers market. Upon striking up a conversation about gardening and using native plants, and then seeing Lee’s magic worked in their own garden, an idea occurred to Munroe and Becky. That idea turned into the Cobey Botanical Garden, located between the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery and the Mildred the Bear Environmental Habitats.
The botanical garden perfectly matched the Cobey’s love of gardens, particularly the “wild look” of including native plants. The Cobey Botanical Garden is meant to evolve with each season of the year. In spring, the garden wakes up with early ephemerals that transition toward summer perennials and blossoming shrubs, finally giving way to asters and goldenrod glowing against beautiful autumnal foliage.
Following the gardening footsteps of her father, Becky spends a lot of her time thinking about plants and even serves on the Board of the North Carolina Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill. Seeing the Cobey Botanical Garden used as an outdoor classroom for school groups and visitors brings all of their passions together for the betterment of Grandfather Mountain. “We look forward to seeing future programming in the botanical garden and seeing people get excited about native plants,” Becky said of how she and Munroe hope to see the Cobey Botanical Garden used throughout the changing seasons.