The Norfolk Botanical Garden

Visiting a 155-acre botanical garden in late-July Virginia can be a challenge. Luckily for us, the weather was unseasonably cool this year, and there was plenty of shade throughout.

Norfolk Botanical GardensThe Norfolk Botanical Garden was created in 1938 by a local city official, Thomas P. Thompson, and a horticulturist, Frederic Heutte. Heutte believed that the local climate was ideal for azaleas, so they went to work to establish a city garden.  In 1958, it became Norfolk Botanical Gardens and today offers 155 acres and 40 theme gardens to view on foot, by tram, or by boat.

We started out on foot. First we visited the Japanese Garden near the boat docks. We were thinking that a boat tour would have been really nice, but since the weather was agreeable and we had been doing a lot of indulging on our vacation, we figured that we could use the exercise.

Vertical Succulent Planter

Vertical Succulent Planter

I was eager to check out the Kaufman Hydrangea Garden. This area has a USDA hardiness zone of 8 and is pretty close to the ocean, so the H. Macrophyllas should not have the same frost issues that I have at home of limited-to-no flower blooms.  This gardens boasts over 900 plants from 20 species, with the majority of them being “mophead” or big leaf varieties. Unfortunately in late July, they are past their prime.

H. macrophylla Skips

H. macrophylla Skips

This photo above shows a hydrangea with blooms that have dried to a pretty, soft bluish purple.

A few hydrangeas were still blooming.

Hydrangea chinensis

Hydrangea chinensis

H. paniculata Ruby

H. paniculata Ruby

Just outside the hydrangea garden we noticed a strong, sweet fragrance. It turned out to be a large shrub in full bloom that made a canopy you could stand under.

Harlequin Glory Bower Clerodendrum tricholomum

Harlequin Glory Bower Clerodendrum tricholomum

Nearby, we walked through Renaissance Court that contained several areas of carefully structured grassy terraces, a diverse statuary, and an ornate fountain. It’s no surprise that this area is vastly popular for wedding photos, which are sure to look good from every vantage point.

Renaissance Court

Renaissance Court

There was so much to see that we didn’t make it to all the gardens. We eventually hopped on the tram and took a ride to the entrance. The driver was well versed in horticulture and a few plant lore tidbits as well. For example, she told us the at the Native Americans used the needles from pine trees as a diuretic.

Below are a few more pics we took during our tour. One is of the enormous rose garden, which was mostly finished blooming, but their numbers were astounding. The website says that there are 3,000 roses planted there, and I believe it.

If you are in the area, be sure to add this to your itinerary. If you can’t make it to Norfolk, or if you want to know more, check out their website. It is very easy to navigate and full of interesting information including videos and a photo gallery. I hope you enjoyed the tour. Are you thinking of adding this garden to your summer bucket list?

About Patti Estep

Patti is the creator of Garden Matter, a home and garden blog filled with projects to inspire your creative side. She loves crafting, gardening, decorating and entertaining at her home in Pennsylvania. When she is not working on a project at home or searching for treasures at nurseries and thrift stores with her girlfriends, you’ll probably find her with family and friends, at a restaurant, or home party enjoying new and different food adventures.

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Comments

  1. Looks like you missed my Favorite of the garden. The Butterfly Garden and enclosure. My family has a hard time getting me out.

    • Hi Judy,

      You are right. We did miss the butterflies as we only had so much time but now we have a good reason to go back. Glad you enjoyed the gardens too. Thanks for stopping by.
      Patti

  2. There’s nothing like walking around a public garden for inspiration!!

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