There’s more to Norfolk Botanical Garden than just some of the Nation’s best Christmas lights.
photos courtesy of Norfolk Botanical Garden
One of the main reasons I love my career is that I’m mostly outside in the dirt surrounded by the natural world. Norfolk Botanical Garden has so much to offer, from excellent bird watching to miles of trails that take you deep into the Garden along Lake Whitehurst, making you forget you’re even in Norfolk. So if you’re feeling adventurous, join those that walk and run the garden, or if you’re in the mood to relax, catch a seasonal tram or boat ride (certain nights your bike!) and explore over 175 acres of Norfolk’s most beautiful views – and catch some glimpses of our wildlife too; there’s plenty of it.
Norfolk Botanical Garden has an amazingly rich history. The garden first opened in 1938 thanks to the work of nearly 200 African American women, and 20 African American men, who worked dawn till dusk building a levee for the lakes and clearing out acres of underbrush to establish the Garden. In 1954, the Garden began hosting the Azalea Festival, part of the annual NATO Festival, where an Azalea Queen was crowned each year.
From the tour guides to the people working amongst the flowers, the staff is great, but so are the visitors. The garden is full of runners, volunteers, and even soon-to-be newlyweds checking out a site for their dream wedding. Some of my favorite patrons however, happen to be running around and giggling in the World of Wonders, excited by everything and anything. So grab some family, grab some friends, and pack a picnic basket, or drop by the café (be sure to check the schedule) and plan for some adventure.
Ever get the urge to upgrade your yard, but don’t know where to begin? Maybe you know a certain kid who’s got some energy to burn, but not quite sure where. The Garden offers a variety of classes each season. Everything from T’ai Chi to cooking, and composting to the horticulture behind wine. Don’t forget, there’s an entire garden devoted to our tiniest of visitors, so you can bet we’ve got some amazing children’s programs as well. And don’t be shy if you have a quick question while you’re walking about, our horticulturists aren’t just smart, they’re friendly too! So go ahead and ask them about that spot in your yard that could use some TLC, or what plants attract hummingbirds and butterflies – I guarantee they can help.
This is another big one for me. Not only do I have the privilege of being outside, but I get to be creative and think of ways to paint the world with living things. I’m constantly surrounded by some of the purest forms of inspiration, from the sunlight reflecting off the water, to the ever changing palette of colors offered by nature. Norfolk Botanical Garden has some of the most breathtaking scenery around, so bring that camera and those paint brushes, dig out your sketchbook or journal, and let your creativity run wild.
… Seeing how it is the season, I do recommend checking out our twinkling winter wonderland nightly until New Year’s Eve as part of the Dominion Garden of Lights. And while we’re on the subject of lights, keep your eyes and ears peeled for details on of the largest exhibitions we’ve ever hosted – LanternAsia.
So put down the laptop and put on some sunscreen while you make your way to Norfolk’s hidden treasure – there’s something new and beautiful to see every season, I promise.