Williamsburg Botanical Garden is located in James City County, Virginia. The gardens are situated within Freedom Park, which also serves as recreational grounds for the public. Freedom Park, much like other areas of Virginia, is steeped in history spanning four centuries. The park has changed use many times over the years, with its original purpose being that of a 17th-century settlement. After this, it was a site of battle in the Revolutionary War during the 18th century and even a cemetery. The park itself spans 600 acres and has hiking and biking trails through the historic terrains. The park also contains an interpretive center showcasing both contemporary and prehistoric artifacts discovered in the area. The Williamsburg Botanical Garden contains a vast collection of more than 800 examples of plant life within its beautiful grounds that are linked by pathways. Visitors can pick up a map and head through the garden, following the ascending numbered areas.


© Williamsburg Botanical Garden

When entering the garden entrance, visitors can look at the Native Plant Garden, which shows a beautiful selection of plants indigenous to the area, whereby most of which are native to the coastal plain. Following this, there is the Heirloom Garden, which is situated on three sides of the Pavilion Patio and displays species originating from Eurasia that were grown in North America and can now often be spotted in the east of the country, too. The sweet-scented fairy rose is a popular flower to behold, as is the tall, white bridal wreath spirea.

Positioned near the wetlands is the Green Roof Pavilion, which received its name due to the water holding plants that have been planted on the roof. The species, such as Ice Plants and sedums, aid with water conservation by absorbing the rainwater and reducing storm water runoff, thus lessening the flooding in the area. A unique feature in the botanical gardens is the Therapy Garden. Children and adults can access the raised beds, pavilion, and planting boxes in the area, which is also designed for those who require wheelchair access. The scent of the herbs, sensory plants, and demonstrations performed here make the Therapy Garden an accessible and interactive experience for all.

Those visiting the gardens can stroll over the wooden bridge and take in the scenery of the man-made wetlands. The wetlands combine a swamp, a freshwater marsh, and a stream bank, creating an ecosystem which provides a habitat for not only plants but also animal species. Eye-catching plants on show here include the yellow cutleaf coneflower and the vibrant red cardinal flower. A popular place to visit is the Butterfly Garden, a short walk from the wetlands, which includes both native and non-native plants that provide a thriving habitat for butterflies, bees, and other insects. School groups often tour the garden to enjoy a bit of butterfly spotting. Frequently spotted butterflies are monarchs and pearl crescents, feeding on their favorite flowers’ nectar.

As well as Pollinator Palace, a purpose-built structure to accommodate bees and other pollen-carrying insects and to help them live and breed in a protected environment, there is the Old Pine Woods, which contain native coastal Virginian shrubs, trees, vines, and herbaceous plants, many of which are labeled. In the fall, long yellow sweet goldenrod plants light up the area and in spring red partridge berries can be seen blooming. The woods are a great place for school groups and families to sit in the sun for lunch. An alternative place is the patio around the Green Roof Pavilion, which also has public benches.

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© Williamsburg Botanical Garden

The James City County and Williamsburg Master Gardeners offer educational tours of the Williamsburg Botanical Garden for pre-booked adult groups during certain months of the year. Tour participants can learn about the range of plants and wildlife within the park and the procedures necessary for maintaining their habitats. For children, many educational programs are on offer all year round. Programs are often conducted in the Freedom Park Interpretive Center, where children use natural materials to create artwork, attend talks about caring for animals, and find out interesting and exciting facts about nature.

Due to the expanse of green space, the range of flowers, and natural beauty of the gardens, the grounds are regularly booked for private events and weddings. Visitors can check on the events calendar on the website to see the schedule.

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5535 Centerville Rd, St, Williamsburg, VA 23188, Phone: 757-880-1893

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Things to Do in Virginia: Williamsburg Botanical Garden

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