As we spend more time at home and in our yards, we have learned that the simple pleasures of nature. The slowly changing seasons have provided many of us with strength and joy. Watching the new buds on the trees, the emergence of daffodils and then peonies, visits from butterflies and then dragon flies, have made these challenging times a little cheerier.
We also know that it’s important to continue social distancing efforts to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe.
How can we make this summer a little brighter, maintain our physical and mental health, as well as increase energy and stamina? A visit to one of Virginia’s lustrous gardens can offer visitors peace and tranquility. They offer exercise and safe interactions. Their blossoms brighten our world, and their rich greenery give us life-sustaining oxygen.
These gardens consist of open spaces for contemplation and are places for our children to stretch their legs and play as they cope with the stress of isolation. Summer is the time when the roses are in bloom, the water lilies open their faces to the sun, and birds frolic in the branches of the green canopy overhead. Don’t you deserve a mini-trek through nature?
Here are some notable gardens where you can get away from it all and be one with nature.
Along the Potomac River and throughout Fairfax County, a collection of gardens awaits showcasing Virginia’s beauty and history. Green Spring Gardens, a national historic site/outdoor classroom, is a county park with a naturalistic native plant garden, 20 thematic demonstration gardens and a greenhouse. In the summer, the water lilies and lotus blossoms are a magical sight at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, home to native plant collections and the stunning Korean Bell Garden. Learn more at FXVA.com
Some parts of Oatlands Historic House & Garden in Leesburg were planted two centuries ago. The garden has “outdoor rooms” with a variety of plantings, including the Bowling Green and rose garden. Blooming Hill Lavender Farm offers a labyrinth for meditation and the garden is a burst of purple blooms. Learn more at VisitLoudoun.com
Located minutes from Washington, D.C. on the Potomac River, visitors to Alexandria can take in stunning gardens at Carlyle House, a Georgian Palladian manor house built in 1753, and River Farm, a historic 25-acre site that was once part of George Washington’s original five farms. Learn more at VisitAlexandriaVA.com
The illustrious gardens of Airlie Center do more than look beautiful. They are also a source of food for the community and Airlie’s dining rooms. The property has acres of natural landscapes and a bucolic swan lake. Learn more at Airlie.com
Charlottesville and Albemarle County
The historic gardens burst of Charlottesville offer the opportunity to learn about heritage plants and stroll through a variety of beautifully-maintained gardens at historic sites like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Monroe’s Highland, James Madison’s Montpelier, or even on the grounds of the prestigious University of Virginia. Learn more at VisitCharlottesville.org
A full-on horticulture spectacular can be found at the 18th and 19th century country manors and riverside homes in the Fredericksburg Region. The Georgian landscapes of Belmont, Kenmore, Mary Washington House, Ferry Farm, and Chatham will delight you with their symmetry and the colors. Learn more at VisitFred.com
Enjoy a stroll through the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum. The 125-acre urban botanical preserve features a naturalized botanical garden and forestry with a diverse ecosystem of native plants of mid-Appalachians (wildflowers, azaleas, and rhododendrons); a collection of non-native trees, shrubs (magnolias, dogwoods, etc.); and the Oak-Hickory Forest. Time your visit to see the bounty of purple blooms at White Oak Lavender Farm, where you can pick your own lavender, sample lavender ice cream and shop for lavender products. Learn more at VisitHarrisonburgVA.com
Prince William County
Beautiful Burnside Farm is the place to learn about the life of a flower farmer. Spend a day picnicking, wandering through their unique sunflower maze, and picking your own sunflowers, gladiolas and liatris to take home with you. Learn more at VisitPWC.com
Head to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden near Richmond, a 50-acre historic property with a classical domed Conservatory, the only one of its kind in the MidAtlantic. The highlights of this massive botanical wonderland are the Children’s Garden, the Asian Valley, and the Rose Garden. Other Richmond treasures are the Italian and Japanese gardens at Maymont, while the gardens at Agecroft Hall reflect the opulence of English gardens. Learn more at VisitRichmondVA.com
For garden and flower lovers, the Shenandoah Valley truly has it all. Come explore arboretums, delight in historic gardens, gaze at hidden waterfalls, and relax near sun-dappled fields and forests. Colorful and delicate wildflowers abound in Shenandoah National Park, and along the Blue Ridge Parkway many scenic back roads. Learn more at VisitShenandoah.org
Virginia’s Blue Ridge
Experience the bright blooms of spring naturally throughout Virginia’s Blue Ridge along the Blue Ridge Parkway or beautifully grown in Virginia Western’s Community Arboretum in Roanoke. Visitors of all ages can enjoy stunning plant gardens and collections, a plant maze, plant zoo, and Children’s Garden in the magical two-acre educational Arboretum. Learn more at VisitVBR.com
Pictured at top: Kenilworth lilies