The Transylvania Times -

Betty And Robert Balentine Honored As Preservation Heroes At Local Arboretum


September 4, 2017

Betty And Robert Ballentine, founders of the Southern Highlands Reserve, have won the 2017 Preservation Hero Award from the Library of American Landscape History.

Library of American Landscape History, a nonprofit publisher based in Amherst, Mass., announces the recipients of the 2017 Preservation Hero Award, Betty and Robert Balentine of Atlanta. The award celebrates the Balentines' visionary work in establishing the Southern Highlands Reserve, a native plant arboretum and research center in Lake Toxaway, N.C. Established in 2002 as a private operating foundation, the Southern Highlands Reserve is dedicated to sustaining the rare ecosystems of the Blue Ridge Mountains through the preservation, cultivation, and display of plants native to the region. Today the Reserve features a twenty-acre display garden surrounded by a hundred-acre natural woodland.

Robin Karson, executive director of LALH, applauded the Balentines' dedication to the advancement of horticultural research and conservation. "Robert and Betty Balentine have been selected as the 2017 LALH Preservation Heroes in recognition of their creation of the Southern Highlands Reserve at Lake Toxaway, N.C. This extraordinary site, which encompasses both designed and managed natural areas, reflects a steadfast philanthropic and intellectual commitment to excellence in landscape stewardship, design, and horticultural and botanical research. Accomplishment at this level is rare even among professionals; it is breathtaking to find in private individuals. We applaud the Balentines' remarkable achievement and hope that it inspires like-minded endeavors among other American land stewards."

The Reserve is at the top of Lake Toxaway mountain and hosts private tours. The high elevation gardens at the Southern Highlands Reserve bloom all growing season.

Upon receiving the award, founder Robert Balentine shared a heartfelt thank you to the LALH for the prestigious honor. "Southern Highlands Reserve has been a labor of love for over 15 years for Betty and me and we are thrilled with this recognition. For a quarter of a century, LALH has celebrated the uniqueness of American landscape design and we are both deeply honored by this award," he said.

A former chairman of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, past president of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, and emeritus trustee of Washington & Lee University, Robert is also a founder of the Southeastern Horticultural Society and serves on the board of directors of The Garden Conservancy. Betty is past president of the Peachtree Garden Club and a longtime board member of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. Through her work as a member of the University of Georgia Press Advisory Council, Betty also advocates for publishing books on the natural world.

Dedicated to educating the public and motivating stewardship of significant places and the environment, LALH is the leading publisher of books that advance the study and practice of American landscape architecture.


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