To be fair, I’m fairly biased about this venue. I was married at Norfolk Botanical Garden in 2009 and I’ve worked in the Youth Education department there for over fifteen years. This is one of what will be many look-backs at the gardens through all the seasons.
If you lurk by the front desk in early spring, you’ll frequently hear the NBG staff giving callers and visitors updates on the timing of the azaleas in bloom. Typically peak blooms are mid-April to early May.
It is difficult to turn around anywhere in the garden without being overwhelmed with orange, red, white, and pink blooms. A few gardens are particularly lush. Mirror Lake is home to the original azaleas planted by 200 African-American women in 1938 as a WPA project. Their work is now honored with the bronze sculpture, Breaking Ground by Kathleen Farrell.
The Enchanted Forest is another spot that is azalea-planted and naturally forested. A 3/4 mile loop will take you around this peninsula into Lake Whitehurst. Other standout spots for Azaleas include Renaissance Court and the Boat Basin.
Located directly adjacent to the main parking lot, the Bicentennial Rose Garden makes for a see and smell event. This first bloom of the season peaks in late spring. Some roses will continue to bloom through summer, followed by another peak bloom in October.
Let me help plan your trip to Hampton Roads, Virginia.
With a relatively mild year-round climate, these Zone 6 Gardens can be enjoyed anytime.
WOW Children’s Garden– As a full-time Youth Education Manager, this three-acre garden was my home away from home for 13 years.
Mirror Lake & Enchanted Forest– Both gardens have round-trip walks and are the places most likely to see resident wildlife.
Japanese Garden- Children love the stone bridge that crosses a frog-filled pond.
Sarah Lee Baker Perennial Garden- From daffodils in late winter, daylilies in summer, the Perennial Gardens are always colorful. Staff plant complimentary annual displays around the central fountains.
The History & Arts
After taking in the art of the Garden, check out some of Norfolk’s other art and history attractions.
Visual Arts: Hermitage Museum & Gardens and Chrysler Museum of Art
Live Arts: Virginia Stage Company, The Hurrah Players, Generic Theater, The Norva, and the Seven Venues.
History: Naticus & Battleship Wisconsin, The Moses Myers House, and Naval Base Cruises
If you like NBG, visit some of the other outdoor hot spots in Norfolk!
Dine at the Gardens’ Marigold & Honey Cafe, or find other local nearby:
Little Creek Road: Regino’s Italian, The Dirty Buffalo, Azalea Inn, El Azteca
East Ocean View Avenue/ Shore Drive: Sandfiddler Cafe, Surfrider East Beach, COVA Brewing Company, Longboards
Norfolk International Airport (walkable via a footpath from Mirror Lake): The Local