Norfolk Botanical Garden

It was sad leaving Pam Harper's garden but the journey continues. Driving about one hour south to Norfolk was the Norfolk Botanical Gardens which had been recommended by Pam and others. Along the way, we drove through some torrential downpours (ah the memory of rain!), went through some scary tunnels and across enormous bridges. The rain had stopped once we arrived at the gardens but it had turned hot and steamy. This was the only time during our trip that we experienced hot temperatures.

A guided tour on a tram was just about to depart so we jumped on board. As soon as we pulled out from the welcome center, the rain started again. Thankfully it was a covered tram. The tram took us through the major parts of the garden. Most impressive was the Flowering Arboretum, a massive field with the biggest tree specimens I had ever seen. Even the smaller trees, like crabapples and crape myrtles, were huge! Since we were moving, I wasn't about to get good photos, so we decided to depart at the last stop before arriving back at the starting point.

We had left the tram at a good spot - the Kaufman Hydrangea Garden. By this time, the rain had stopped and it was sunny again. The hydrangea garden included about 300 varieties and it was spectacular. The plants were labeled so I was jotting down the names of the ones I liked. 

The first hydrangea that caught my eye was Hydrangea luteovenosa (below).

Another striking one was Hydrangea 'Kuroshime'

Hydrangea "Lemon Wave"
Moving along, we entered the "Renaissance Garden" -

 You know I have a weakness for statuary, so I loved this poriton of the garden. Walking even further, we came upon the "Statuary Vista". This was a 400 ft. long double perennial border filled with shade plants and featured 11 7 ft. tall statues depicting notable painters and sculptors. The statues were carved by Sir Moses Ezekiel in Rome from 1879-1884. According the Norfolk Botanical Gardens website, these statues have been nominated for Virginia's Top Ten Endangered Artifacts.

We then walked to the sunnier areas of the gardens. There are several different gardens listed and I'm afraid I may have gotten some of them mixed up. There was the Conifer Garden (below) and several different perennial gardens. Some of these areas were blocked off because of the Bald Eagle nesting season.

The Colonial Herb Garden
This photo was taken from atop the NATO Tower Overlook
Blue Atlas Cedar
Last, but not least, the Bicentennial Rose Garden, displaying over 3,000 roses representing more than 300 varieties.

Our Trip Itinerary

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Phillip,
    Lovely photos, as always! I lived in Virginia Beach for many years and it was a joy to see the garden grow over time. The gift shop is great too (:

  2. I lived in the Norfolk area almost years ago. We have talked about visiting the area again and your photos bring a new desire to plan a trip back there.

  3. What a lucious place. Everything looks so healthy. That herb garden looks so neat. I always think of them as messy looking. ha... Nothing messy here.

  4. You're in my state!! Except I'm outside DC. I've never been to these gardens and now need to take a road trip. They look incredible! Where else are you headed?

  5. Phillip, this garden is extraordinary! I'll pass along your post to my daughter, who is living in Hampton. I know she hasn't gotten around to seeing it yet, and it shouldn't be missed.
    Love the new look too!

  6. One of my favorite gardens. Les (A Tidewater Gardener) and Racquel (A Perennial Gardener) and I had a great visit through NBG for my last time through that garden. Camellia season is out of this world!!

  7. Casa Mariposa, just posted our visit to the incredible Pinkham garden. All is left is Lewis Ginter garden in Richmond. Then we headed back to N.C. for the blogger's fling.

    Janet, I would love to see the camellias when they are in bloom.

  8. WOW!!!
    Compared to our burnt to a crisp after 108 degrees.


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