Gardens and Farms and Farmers’ Markets, Oh My!

Each spring, Greater Williamsburg comes alive with seasonal blooms, garden tours and the bounty of farmers markets.

Garden Week walking tour
Yorktown Garden Stroll
Yorktown Market Days
Springtime at the Williamsburg Botanical Gardens

If spring is nature's way of saying, "let's party," then Greater Williamsburg offers a full dance card complete with a pointy hat and noisemakers. 

When the weather warms and the blooms rise up to rebel against winter, it's time to get out and about to garden tours, home shows and farmers markets. Here are opportunities to stop and smell the roses — and the lilacs, the daffodils and even the chives.  

April means Historic Garden Week in Virginia, from April 22 to April 29, when gardens, homes and historic landmarks welcome visitors. The 83rd version of the Williamsburg Homes and Gardens Tour takes place on April 25. Naturally, history plays a huge part in the tour, which includes Bel-Mede, a home built in 1770 and moved in 1947 to Williamsburg by a College of William & Mary art professor. "Art in Bloom," a fine art and flower show, will be running that day at the Muscarelle Museum of Art and there will be lectures on botanical art and landscape design at the Swem Library at the College of William & Mary. 

A good companion to Garden Week — like a good companion planting that pairs Virginia bluebells with hostas — is Colonial Williamsburg's 71st annual Garden Symposium, titled "Small Spaces, Great Rewards." It runs from April 28 to 30 and will focus on creating those stunning gardens in tight spots.  

When you get a break from gawking at house gardens or learning about them, head to the Williamsburg Botanical Garden, which features a crazy quilt variety of offerings including a wildflower meadow, a butterfly garden, a native woodland, a bulb garden, an herb garden, wetlands and much more. It’s one of the secret gems of the area. 

While you're walking through all those gardens, you're going to work up an appetite. So stop by the Williamsburg Farmers Market in Merchant Square opening at 8 a.m. on Saturdays. You'll find dozens of vendors with local seafood, spring vegetables and plants, herbs, baked goodies, pasture-raised meats, cheese, soaps, fresh bread, local honey and eggs.

Yorktown has a cornucopia of outdoor and garden goodies, as well. Ten private gardens on Nelson, Church, Smith and Bacon streets are the draw for the Yorktown Garden Stroll on  May 6. Music from the Fifes & Drums will evoke bygone colonial times when the city was a thriving tobacco port and the scene of the last major battle of the American Revolution. Take a break from walking for a class on shade gardening at 11 a.m. 

Meanwhile, Yorktown Market Days are an all-in-one guilt-free trip: food and exercise in one place.  They kick off April 29 with more than 35 local farmers, producers, artists and vendors. But here's the unusual part: Activities include fitness classes, healthy cooking demonstrations and free health screenings. So take a bite of that pastry and then burn off the calories. 

For something outside of the box and outside of town head to Toano and get woolly at the annual shearing of the alpacas at Fox Wire Farm on April 8. After all, it's never too early to prepare for next winter’s chill. 

After strolling the gardens and heading down on the farm, be sure to sample some of Greater Williamsburg’s fine farm-to-table restaurants. Then work off those calories with a leafy, green bike ride or sample the exciting spring arts.

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