The Gardens of Williamsburg

Sweethaven Lavender of Williamsburg grows 15 varieties of perfume and culinary lavender, both English and French cultivars, as well as zinnia and sunflowers. Every year, Sweethaven partners with local businesses to create lavender culinary products including: mead and honey, custard, ice cream and sorbet. Additionally, Sweethaven harvests and distills lavender on-site for various uses including an organic skincare line, and during the farm’s bloom season (May–July), visitors can cut their own bouquet, then enjoy a picnic in the pastoral setting. The farm also hosts a Christmas celebration in December.

New Quarter Park is a 545-acre park in York County, where visitors can explore a pollinator garden that features butterfly bush and mountain mint; a butterfly habitat featuring Black-eyed Susan and common milk weed; two rain gardens with native shrubs, perennials, and flowers; and a wildflower area.

Williamsburg Botanical Garden at Freedom Park is a gem to visit in the spring. Offering a variety of areas for visitors to explore including a butterfly garden, an herb garden, and a native garden that features, the garden hosts more than 800 species of native vegetation. Pro tip: visitors can request a 60-90 minute guided tour from a Williamsburg/James City County Master Gardner. 

The campus of The College of William & Mary is a horticultural delight, especially in spring when the blooms appear.  There are a number of specific botanical themes within the William & Mary campus:

  •  The Sunken Garden’s design is based on 18th-century English landscape gardens, which abandoned the geometric parterres of Europe in favor of sweeping lawns intended to uplift the spirit by leading the eye toward a distant, natural setting. The walk to the Garden boasts some of the oldest trees on campus
  • Crim Dell Meadow is home to Crim Dell Bridge, one of the most beautiful sites to take a photo in spring. According to campus lore, two people crossing the bridge while holding hands will be lifelong friends; and if they kiss, lifelong lovers; most notable here are two dawn redwoods that until 1946 were thought to have been extinct for more than 13 million years
  • The entrance to the Lettie Pate Evans Wildflower Refuge is an amphitheater with seating for presentations or for observing and appreciating the natural surroundings; the moist, shady habitat of the Wildflower Refuge shelters a variety of ferns, common wildflowers, and native woody plants
  • Near the south entrance of Small Hall are two trees with a big reputation – clones from the famous Newton Apple, Malus domestica ‘flower of Kent,’ which inspired the theory of gravity by Sir Isaac Newton 
  • Adams Garden was originally planted as a bulb and azalea garden, however the collection has held many iterations of plants showcasing tropical and semi-tropical species, thousands of bulbs, and unusual trees, including an Asian loquat tree

Over 500 species of plants can be found throughout the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg. Each year, roughly 32,000 seasonal plants and 30,000 bulbs are planted, all of which are either native to the Williamsburg area or were recorded as being present during the time that Williamsburg was the Capital city. A walking tour throughout the 30 iconic flower gardens and seven vegetable gardens can offer insight into the ways the colonists lived and worked as a community. The gardens at the Governors Palace are the most elaborate due to the Governor's status, while the James Geddy House is less ornate with a large work yard that reflects that of a tradesman. No visit is complete without a stop at the Colonial Garden, which displays rare and unusual varieties of heirloom vegetables, as well as a collection of heirloom roses and fruits. Staffed by interpreters and garden historians, it features examples of culinary, medicinal, and household herbs used by the colonists. Bound to heritage varieties, many of the plants you’ll see throughout Colonial Williamsburg’s gardens are not easily found elsewhere. 

A site to behold throughout the village of Yorktown, the deep wine-colored heads of the Yorktown Onion can be seen growing in profusion along the Colonial Parkway from May to July. Known also as the wild onion, giant wild garlic, and wild leek, the Yorktown Onion has adapted to growing wild only in York County, Virginia. But a warning to its admirers, picking the Yorktown Onion is prohibited by both county and federal law.


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