Think spring and summer are the only beautiful seasons for gardens? Think again. It’s amazing to see some of the plants that thrive just after summer’s heat and prior to a late fall frost.
Begin your journey of exploring Virginia’s fall gardens by checking out the brand new Richmond Garden Trail. It includes eight gardens within 10 miles of each other. Each site can easily stand on its own merit, but together, they’re a powerhouse of beauty.
~ Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – Best Botanical Garden in the U.S., Travel Channel, 2013
~ Virginia Museum of Fine Arts‘ E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden – the only U.S. art museum with a site-specific, permanent Chihuly installation
~ Maymont’s Gardens – one of the 10 Great Public Spaces in America, American Planning Association, 2011
~ Agecroft Hall Gardens – A 15th century Tudor built in Lancashire, England and moved to the banks of the James River in the 1920s. Look for the replica of William Shakespeare’s tombstone in the garden. It’s in honor of his 450th birthday in 2014.
~ Virginia Capitol Square – Did you know there’s an empty crypt on the grounds? It was to be George Washington’s final resting place, but you can find his real final resting place at his Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens (another stunning place to be in the fall, complete with extensive, restored gardens!). Tip: A wreath is laid at his tomb daily.
~ The Valentine Garden – Secluded downtown garden with a magnolia tree that’s more than 200 years old
~ Edgar Allen Poe Museum – The Enchanted Garden was designed after Poe’s “To One in Paradise,” in 1921.
~ Virginia Center for Architecture – Secluded downtown garden along Monument Avenue, called “One of the 10 Great Streets in America”
If the grounds and walls of Virginia’s plantations could talk, oh, the stories they’d tell. Some of them are known to us, excitingly. For example, Berkeley Plantation in Charles City was the site of the first Thanksgiving in 1619 and it’s also where “Taps” was written. Visit to see the terraces of boxwood gardens.
Among the oldest gardens in the country are those of Eyre Hall in Cheriton on the Eastern Shore. Circa 1800, you can expect to find sweeping crape myrtles shading paths, English gardens, and an 1819 orangery ruin. For more than 250 years this estate has remained in the same family; the eighth generation now keeps watch.
In Richmond, Thomas Jefferson’s boyhood home of Tuckahoe is considered to have one of the most complete 18th century plantation layouts in North America. Tuckahoe’s gardens are beautiful year ’round and you’re welcome to visit between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. any day of the week.
The gardens of Historic Kenmore Plantation in Fredericksburg were the very first to be revitalized by the Garden Club of Virginia. It was the recipient of further GCV attention in 1992 when a Wilderness Walk focusing on native plants was added.
Patrick Henry’s Red Hill is located in Brookneal. He is said to have called his plantation, “one of the garden spots of the world,” so you must visit to see what all his fuss was about. Something for me to make a fuss about is the amazing Osage Orange Tree. It’s a National Champion tree and a member of the American Forestry Hall of Fame.
James Monroe’s modest Ash Lawn-Highland estate in Charlottesville includes a boxwood garden.
Thomas Jefferson’s Charlottesville home, Monticello, has extensive gardens – flower, vegetable, fruit, and more. The most recognizable are probably the 1000′ terrace garden and the borders of the west lawn.
>> Buy Monticello Plants
James Madison’s Montpelier in Montpelier Station is a 2,650-acre estate that boasts a 200-acre old-growth Landmark Forest and a two-acre formal garden known as the Annie duPont Formal Garden (William duPont purchased Montpelier in 1901).
>> Garden Map
Woodrow Wilson’s Birthplace in Staunton includes Charles Gillette-designed landscaping (as do many of the other locations mentioned here). A visit to this garden, however, delivers Gillette’s only known bowknot boxwood design. It was installed after Wilson’s passing and was a project of the Garden Club of Virginia.
The aforementioned Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens of George Washington deserves repeating. The grounds are lush and you’ll have to look for the original trees Washington himself planted.
ARBORETUMS AND BOTANICAL GARDENS
In Chase City you’ll find the MacCallum More Museum and Gardens, an eclectic space that includes interesting works of international art, sculptures and nine fountains.
Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk is 155 acres and is the only botanical garden in the nation that can be toured on foot, tram or boat! For fall, be sure to head to Mirror Lake. It’s one of the oldest sections of the garden and a great place for bird watching. Also note the five trees that are listed among the Remarkable Trees of Virginia: Coast Redwood, Crabapple, Crape Myrtle, Loblolly Pine, and White Oak (the oldest tree in the garden).
>> Download the Garden Map
The State Arboretum of Virginia is located in Boyce and it’s part of the University of Virginia’s Blandy Experimental Farm. Of Note: North America’s largest variety of boxwood cultivars are found here, as are one-third of the world’s pine species. It’s an incredible, free place to visit.
Another university-associated garden is the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. Seventeen different garden areas make this a beautiful place for fall explorations.
>> See the Autumn Slideshow
Vienna’s Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is a diverse 95 acres tucked away in Northern Virginia. Quite the delight! The garden is expanding with the Korean Bell Garden project and a Children’s Garden is planned.
>> Download the Garden Map
The Southern Virginia Botanical Gardens are found in South Boston. It’s a fairly new area, still growing, with hopes of a Visitor Center, Amphitheater and Splash Park in the future. In the works now is a Native American Medicine Wheel Herb Garden.
>> Download the Garden Map
VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS