With summer at its peak, gardens are abundant in Virginia. From flowers to fruits to vegetables, Virginia is rich with beauty when it comes to gardens. Fortunately, we have many sites throughout the state, historic and otherwise, where you can see this natural beauty up close. So if you love gardens, but don’t have the time or inclination to keep your own, or perhaps just want a little inspiration for your own planting next year, you won’t want to miss these 13 gems…
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Colonial Williamsburg Gardens
Colonial Williamsburg is as well known for its historic gardens as for its historic buildings. Featuring dozens of varietal gardens throughout the community, visitors can take guided or self-guided tours through painstakingly recreated formal gardens, as well as countless flower, herb and vegetable gardens.
2. Chatham Manor, Fredericksburg
This Revolutionary War-era manor house served as an active plantation for more than a century. Today, the home and grounds have been restored by the National Park Service and the main house serves as the visitors' center and museum for the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. A local Rotary Club and area garden club work with the organization, Friends of Chatham, to provide ongoing care and maintenance of the stunning gardens throughout the grounds.
3. Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond
Open year-round, Lewis Ginter features themed gardens such as the Rose Garden, the Healing Garden, an Asian Valley and more across 50 acres of historic land. In addition to seasonal exhibits, The Gardens offer interactive programs, tours and educational workshops. In 2014, Lewis Ginter was voted #2 Public Garden in the U.S. by readers' of USA Today.
4. Monticello Gardens, Charlottesville
The gardens at Monoticello perfectly showcase Thomas Jefferson's penchant for experimentation and creativity. Set amongst mountain views, the gardens at his historic home are a showcase of flowers, herbs and vegetables, many of which he brought from other places around the world to experiment with and observe.
5. Gunston Hall Gardens and Manor House
Located in Lorton, Gunston Hall was the home of founding father, George Mason. Mason lived at Gunston until his death in 1792. Today, the home is a museum and offers tours of both the home and the grounds, which include flower gardens, orchards and terraced ornamental gardens.
6. Mount Vernon
Like other historic homes on the list, Mount Vernon's gardens have been carefully restored to reflect what they might have looked like in George Washington's time. An avid gardener and active participant in every element of their design, Washington took great care to create gardens that were both functional and beautiful. Today, his work can be seen on both guided and self-guided tours through kitchen gardens, flowered paths and creative formal garden mazes.
7. Norfolk Botanical Gardens
In addition to being a National Historic Landmark, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens call themselves a "museum for plants", featuring one of the largest collections of azaleas, camellias, roses and rhododendrons on the East Coast. With more than 50 themed gardens over 155 acres, the gardens are also home to 95 bird species, 30 different types of butterflies and a 3-acre children's garden.
8. Maymont Park in Richmond
With over 100-acres of manicured grounds, the gardens at Maymont are truly special. Featuring a Japanese Garden, the historic Italian Gardens, and farm and vegetable gardens, Maymont offers both an aesthetic and practical look at Virginia's botany.
9. Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg
Referred to as a "Gravegarden," the Old City Cemetery is the oldest public cemetery still in use in the state. Established in 1806, the cemetery covers more than 26-acres and features museums and heirloom gardens, including hundreds of varieties of plants and flowers.
10. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna
This 95-acre garden complex features walking trails, lakes, more than 20 varieties of cherry trees, as well as countless flowers, bids and butterflies. A visitor's center and atrium provide a closer look at the garden's many features and offer workshops, tours, field trips, concerts and volunteer programs throughout the year.
11. Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens at James Madison University, Harrisonburg
Located on the beautiful James Madison University campus, this stunning oasis offers forested walking trails, botanic gardens and a wide variety of educataional resources. The arboretum is the only one of its kind on a college campus and is open to the public at no charge 365 days a year.
12. Blandy Experimental Farm and State Arboretum of Virginia, Boyce
As a University of Virginia research facility, the Blandy Experimental Farm promotes the understanding of environmental issues surrounding the natural world. Founded in the 1930s, The State Arboretum of Virginia covers 172 acres of the farm and features over 5,000 trees and shrubs from around the world. The farm offers workshops, lectures, tours and field trips, as well as children's programs and annual events like Garden Fair and ArborFest.
13. The Gardens at Oatlands Plantation, Leesburg
Built in 1803, Oatlands is the historic manor home of George Carter. Carter built and designed the manor home and gardens in the English style and today, the gorgeously preserved terraced gardens feature fruit trees and vegetables gardens, as well as trees, shrubs, and flowers, just as they would have been 200 years ago.
From backyard vegetable gardens to front yard flower beds, it’s hard to beat the beauty of Virginia gardens. Where are your favorite gardens? Tell us in the comments below!