Monday, August 13, 2012

Visiting Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia

Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia, USA
Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia, USA
My family was able to visit a couple of new gardens this summer when we were traveling for our family reunion/vacation. The first was Glen Bernie in Winchester, VA and the second, and more impressive of the two, was the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia, USA.

Norfolk Botanical Gardens is truly an impressive garden with great attention to detail.  I highly recommend it for anyone in the area visiting Colonial Williamsburg or Virginia Beach. It has something for everyone: grand fountains and vistas, a substantial collection of hydrangeas, acres of native nature walks, an enormous children's garden and play area, a large rose garden, an eagle lookout tower, a butterfly hut and a tram to show you about the place. And the authentic Greek food in the cafe smelled wonderful! We had, however, already eaten our packed picnic lunch sitting in a shady grove. Delightful either way.
Long view from the visitor's center across the canal to one the main fountains.
Long view from the visitor's center across the canal to one the main fountains.

Colorful planters featuring orange, yellow and purple on the visitor center's patio.
Colorful planters featuring orange, yellow and purple on the visitor center's patio.
View from the Circle garden to a perennial border.
View from the Circle garden to a perennial border.
A "green roof" was installed on this information hut.
A "green roof" was installed on this information hut.
I love the jungle look! Using bamboo poles on the side of the building helps to connect the roof to the building.
I love the jungle look! Using bamboo poles on the side of the building helps to connect the roof to the building.
The Kaufman Hydrangea Garden: Our visiting day was quite hot with the sun glaring down on us. But it was worth visiting in July to see their hydrangea collection in bloom! It was much cooler also once we reached its woodland setting.
The Kaufman Hydrangea Garden: Our visiting day was quite hot with the sun glaring down on us. But it was worth visiting in July to see their hydrangea collection in bloom! It was much cooler also once we reached its woodland setting.
Variegated Bigleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla 'McRachael', was one of my favorites for foliage.
Variegated Bigleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla 'McRachael', was one of my favorites for foliage.
Paths wind here and there about this garden.
Paths wind here and there about this garden.
Separate acid and alkaline gardens show off hydrangeas with their different resulting colors.
Separate acid and alkaline gardens show off hydrangeas with their different resulting colors.
Bigleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ayesha', was a stunner with its true blue coloring.
Bigleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ayesha', was a stunner with its true blue coloring.
A little gazebo is used as a focal point in the hydrangea garden.
A little gazebo is used as a focal point in the hydrangea garden.
The Japanese hydrangea vine, Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Iwa Garami', was growing up the railing of the gazebo on one side.
The Japanese hydrangea vine, Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Iwa Garami', was growing up the railing of the gazebo on one side.
Pretty hydrangea filled woodland
Pretty hydrangea filled woodland
Grown as an "evergreen hydrangea" in warmer climates, this hydrangea relative, Dichroa versicolor, is an introduction from China. Its hardiness is recommended as zones 8-10.  Its flower color is also determined by the soil pH like that of its hydrangea relatives.
Grown as an "evergreen hydrangea" in warmer climates, this hydrangea relative, Dichroa versicolor, is an introduction from China. Its hardiness is recommended as zones 8-10.  Its flower color is also determined by the soil pH like that of its hydrangea relatives.
A stream through the hydrangea gardens adds some needed cooling water.
A stream through the hydrangea gardens adds some needed cooling water.
The garden's Friendship Pond, which was a rather murky mess at our visit.
The garden's Friendship Pond, which was a rather murky mess at our visit.
Moving along, the Renaissance Court included some terraces of turf and this large and lovely fountain.
Moving along, the Renaissance Court included some terraces of turf and this large and lovely fountain.
Just to the right of the above fountain is an established bald eagle nest. We had a nice view of one of the inhabitants sitting in an adjacent pine tree.
Just to the right of the above fountain is an established bald eagle nest. We had a nice view of one of the inhabitants sitting in an adjacent pine tree.
Lions in the Renaissance Court fountain as captured by my sister-in-law and budding photographer, Melody Lynne. See her post of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens with some more beautifully artistic photographs! If you poke around her new blog you might even seen some people you recognize.
Lions in the Renaissance Court fountain as captured by my sister-in-law and budding photographer, Melody Lynne. See her post of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens with some more beautifully artistic photographs! If you poke around her new blog you might even seen some people you recognize.
This was my favorite formal fountain at NBG. Simple and understated in a woodland... though admittedly also very large.
This was my favorite formal fountain at NBG. Simple and understated in a woodland... though admittedly also very large.
The kids were troopers and oh so happy when we finally reached the NBG's elaborate children's garden. And what a garden it is! I was amazed at its size and variety. And its attention to garden details made it fun for me to walk around too, even while watching the kids have a blast in the water.
The kids were troopers and oh so happy when we finally reached the NBG's elaborate children's garden. And what a garden it is! I was amazed at its size and variety. And its attention to garden details made it fun for me to walk around too, even while watching the kids have a blast in the water.
Water fun...
Water fun...
kids having water fun...
fun...
...and more fun. Tons of water fun to be had at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens!
...and more fun. Tons of water fun to be had at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens!
What amazed me was all of the different areas that they constructed to look like different area of the world. This photo is of the prairie planting...
What amazed me was all of the different areas that they constructed to look like different area of the world. This photo is of the prairie planting...
desert area...
desert area...
Mediterranean area, looking back to the water play which is at the center of their large fenced-in children's garden.
Mediterranean area, looking back to the water play which is at the center of their large fenced-in children's garden.
The slide platform was build right around an existing willow tree.
The slide platform was build right around an existing willow tree. 
My kids loved these water well pumps. The water goes into the vat and right back down into the tank below.
My kids loved these water well pumps. The water goes into the vat and right back down into the tank below.
A topiary caterpillar is alongside the playhouse.
A topiary caterpillar is alongside the playhouse.
water frogs were fun for the kids to sit on.
And water frogs were fun for the kids to sit on.
I loved seeing the color echo of the Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) beside this gray/blue cedar shakes on this building.
I loved seeing the color echo of the Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) beside this gray/blue cedar shakes on this building.
Still smiling after a long day in the sun!
Still smiling after a long day in the sun!
Now back to a few last views of the garden: The eagle tower at the center of everything by the canal, which you can also tour by boat.
Now back to a few last views of the garden: The eagle tower at the center of everything by the canal, which you can also tour by boat.
Bridge over the canal with some nice plantings on the banks.
Bridge over the canal with some nice plantings on the banks.
The enormous rose garden, which was blooming its heart out in July.
The enormous rose garden, which was blooming its heart out in July.
Some Miscanthus and Gaura planted along the edges of the rose garden... perhaps they will invade it someday? :)
Some Miscanthus and Gaura planted along the edges of the rose garden... perhaps they will invade it someday? :)
This may not look like much, but in the NBG's magnolia garden this southern magnolia hold a record for its size. We drove by it quickly on the tram tour.
This may not look like much, but in the NBG's magnolia garden this southern magnolia hold a record for its size. We drove by it quickly on the tram tour.
The Statuary Vista looks back to the fountains in the Renaissance court.
The Statuary Vista looks back to the fountains in the Renaissance court.
The statues along its length are notable painters and sculptors, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt.
The statues along its length are notable painters and sculptors, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt.
Thanks for joining the tour of Norfolk Botanical Gardens with us!
It was a fun day. There were several areas that we just did not have the time or endurance to see all at once.  I am sure we will visit again.

11 comments:

  1. Looks a great place to visit, I could feel the coolness of the woodland with its beautiful hydrangeas, that was my favourite part of the garden.

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    1. That was my favorite part too. The kids of course could not wait to get to the water! They were sweet and patient while their mama looked at hydrangeas. They were beautiful.
      ~Julie

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  2. Botanical gardens can be so interesting and so much fun to tour. Hmmm...and I'll have to look into that H. macrophylla 'McRachael'. Thanks for the heads up on this one. I'll be sure to make a point to stop if ever in the area.

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    1. That was my favorite as well. Its leaves lightened the look of the woodland garden. It would be beautiful planted by a white meadow rue (Thalictrum) or in a bed dotted with white-edged hostas.
      ~Julie

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  3. Definitely a family-friendly garden worth visiting. And how exciting to see an eagle's nest!

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    1. For sure! They hope to have another brood next year.
      ~Julie

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  4. Thank you for sharing this tour! I loved The Kaufman Hydrangea Garden, with beautiful blue hydrangeas.

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    1. They have quite a collection... over 900 plants from over 200 cultivars and species. Read more here.

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  5. Julie wow...what a gorgeous, creative place...so much to see and I love, love, love those blue hydrangeas...

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  6. I enjoyed the tour very much, especially the photos of the hydrangea garden! And how thrilling it must have been to see the bald eagle! I think it is great they have a place for the kids to play and cool off in the water. It looks like it was a fun day for everyone.

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  7. Greetings Julie! The hydrangea garden is magnificent, excellent captures with the light breaking through the tree canopy.

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