After years of visiting Norfolk during the late fall, our May trip to Norfolk Botanical Garden was long overdue. This enormous garden (more than 175 acres!) could easily take several hours to explore, but on this hot summer day we spent about an hour enjoying the collections and landscape.
Here is how we did it:
1. Our first stop was to the Visitor Center where we showed our AHS reciprocal memberships and picked up maps. I almost didn’t make it through the doors however, as the huge beds of hellebores on each side had me mesmerized! Hellebores are not a Florida plant, so seeing this mass planting right away had me excited.
Helleborus ‘Pine Knot Select’ at Norfolk Botanic Garden
2. With 20 minutes until the next tram departure, we walked out the back doors to the Rose Garden. This rose garden is amazing! More than 3,000 plants fill this area. The grass pathways between the beds are an invitation to walk and make a beautiful backdrop to the rainbow of rose flowers.
I am sure this is a very popular wedding venue!
3. We loaded the tram a few minutes before departure and settled in to enjoy the tour. The large size of the Norfolk Botanical Garden can be a challenge in the heat or with visitors who aren’t prepared to walk long distances. The tram ride was a nice way for us to get an overview and also offered the option to get off at several locations throughout.
You could tell from the laughter that World of Wonder at Norfolk Botanical Garden is a favorite of many children!
4. As we departed from the tram I was itching to get up close to some of the beautiful plants we had cruised past. The Circle Garden features “an array of glazed stoneware pottery arranged throughout the Circle is home to imaginative, unique and beautiful container gardens year round. Gardeners with any size yard will find inspiration in these sophisticated flower pots.” These containers are gorgeous!
5. Just beyond the sound of running water pulled us on to the next garden. Featuring a long runnel with tropical plants on each side, this are was full of an assortment of perennials and annuals. The purple structure in the back played well with the surroundings.
6. Coming through masses of shrubs and perennials it was almost startling to find the very formal Renaissance Court amid the pines. The Norfolk Botanical Garden’s website describes it as, “modeled along the classic lines of the Italian Renaissance of the late 16th century, the garden features a wide vista, symmetrically laid out in grassy terraces, outlined with ornate balustrades. Across from the terraces is a reflective pool and fountain.”
Large reflecting pool in the Court.
7. As we circled on back toward the Visitor’s Center we passed through more walks filled with roses, perennials and summer flowering bulbs of all types. So many of these are impossible to grow in central Florida and it made my day to see them in their prime.
Ahh, Red Hot Poker, Kniphofia at Norfolk Botanical Garden.
Deutzia scabra ‘Codsall Pink’
The hydrangeas were just beginning to open and showed the promise of a fabulous floral display in the weeks to come. The Hydrangea collection at Norfolk Botancal Garden is designated an official Plant Collections Network (formerly North American Plant Collections Consortium, NAPCC) with more than 200 different cultivars in their collection. Plant Collections Network is a program of the American Public Gardens Association in cooperation with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. As part of this national designation, the Garden is committed to holding and developing a collection of documented living plants according to specified standards.
A final walk past the pond and up to the entrance ended our time at Norfolk Botanical Garden. We were only there for an hour, but made the most of each minute. There are sights to enjoy in every season and I am sure this will give us a reason to return again.