The Norfolk Botanical Garden stands as the largest botanical garden in the entire state of Virginia, boasting not only a diverse array of plant species but also an environmentally conscious approach with its reliance on renewable energy sources. Encompassing a sprawling space of approximately 150 acres, this garden offers a delightful experience for visitors of all ages.
Founded as a non-profit initiative in 1938, the Norfolk Botanical Garden had its roots planted by visionaries Thomas Thompson and Frederic Heutte, who were entrusted with nearly 150 acres of land to lay the foundation of this natural haven.
Throughout the years, the garden has flourished into a beloved attraction within the Norfolk area. One of the best ways to explore this lush expanse is by hopping on the tram, which commences its journey from the Baker Hall Visitor Center, located within the designated tram circle. The tram tour, spanning approximately 25 minutes, comprises nine stops that offer insights into the various gardens within the premises. On weekdays, the tram operates at the top of each hour, while on weekends, it runs every half hour. Knowledgeable Garden Guides accompany each tram ride, providing detailed explanations about the different gardens encountered along the way.
For those who have a penchant for roses, the Rose Walking tour is a must. This in-depth exploration leads you through the Bicentennial Rose Garden, a spectacular 3.5-acre space that was completed in 1976 to commemorate America’s 200th birthday. Within this garden, you’ll find a staggering 3,000 individual rose bushes, representing approximately 400 different cultivars. While it was once one of the 23 testing sites for the All-American Selection for roses, it has now been designated solely as a display site.
If you’re in the mood for a more aquatic adventure, embark on the Boat tour, a leisurely 45-minute excursion that commences and concludes at the boat basin located behind Baker Hall, near the Japanese Garden. This tour takes you out onto Lake Whitehurst, where you’ll learn about the lake’s history and its diverse inhabitants.
For a more immersive experience, consider the Sunset Boat tours, which are offered approximately once a month. These extended tours last for an hour and a half, providing an in-depth exploration of Lake Whitehurst, its ecology, and its inhabitants, offering a unique perspective on this remarkable body of water.
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