When the weather starts to warm up and the time of daylight increases, are you eager to get out and dig in the garden? Or, if you prefer to wander and delight in the artistry of professional garden design, come and enjoy the best public gardens near Charlottesville, VA. We are exceptionally fortunate in numerous expertly crafted gardens available for inspiration. So, plan a visit in your favorite season and find beauty, whether spring, summer, or fall. Even in winter, you will find visual interest and, many times, twinkling lights.
Charlottesville is fortunate to be the home of three historic former presidents: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Their estates all have not only fascinating histories but spectacular gardens, as well.
Thomas Jefferson was an avid gardener and made extensive notes about his experiments in the gardens. The gardens at Monticello include flower gardens, a vegetable garden, and a fruit orchard. Jefferson brought many exotic specimens back with him from his travels in Europe.
Jefferson designed his gardens in a naturalistic style, with many curved paths and unregimented borders. The Garden Club of Virginia has worked to restore the grounds to Jefferson’s original design.
The Gardens at James Monroe’s Highland
The Gardens at James Monroe’s Highland have also been restored to their original size and purposes. There are original white oak, hemlock trees, and white ash that frame the structures. In addition, you will find ornamental, herb, and vegetable gardens. The herb gardens would have been necessary in colonial times for cooking and medicinal purposes, to scent linens, repel moths and dye fabric. The more formal colonial-revival boxwood gardens surround the more significant buildings.
While he lived at Montpelier, James Madison enjoyed four acres of gardens, which would have been part of the existing two-acre site. Madison’s French gardener designed the original landscape, including flowers, vegetables, fruit trees, and ornamental shrubs. Unfortunately, when the property was sold in 1844, much of the grounds were neglected or plowed over.
In 1901 William Dupont purchased the property, and his wife transformed the garden into an early 20th-century formal garden. Anne Dupont restored the original terraces and added many walls, statues, and gates. In 1984, the National Trust for Historic Preservation acquired the property, and the Virginia Garden Club worked to restore the grounds to the Dupont Garden.
University of Virginia Gardens
Thomas Jefferson was personally involved in the design of the original buildings and grounds of the University of Virginia. The Pavilion Gardens are public, although hidden by a serpentine brick wall.
If you wander through the area now, you will see diverse gardens with mature shade trees, benches for relaxing, and the ornamentals that would have been popular during the Jeffersonian era.
Edith Carrier Arboretum
The Edith Carrier Arboretum is part of James Madison University in nearby Harrisonburg. Established to showcase and maintain native plants, trees, and shrubs, they comprehensively list what plants bloom in which month. You can follow their well-marked map to the herb garden or explore the wildflowers.
Botanical Garden of Piedmont
The Botanical Garden of Piedmont is one of the most recent gardens to receive municipal attention. Part of McIntire Park, the emphasis is on native and woodland plants. They are currently in an extensive stream restoration project, but the Garden Site is open.
The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler is 40 acres of numerous ecosystems surrounding two natural pools. Your visit may include a pollinator garden, prairie area, fern habitat, and butterfly garden.
Virginia’s Garden Week
April 15 – 22, 2023, is Virginia’s Garden Week. It will be the 90th annual celebration of Virginia’s Gardens! On Sunday, April 16, a special tour in Upper Garden Virginia of several private gardens in Albemarle county, including an English Manor and a Georgian-Revival style home. All enthusiastic gardeners will want to attend this event.
Visit the Grounds of Foxfield Inn
Once you have visited one or more of these best public gardens near Charlottesville, VA, return to your inviting and comfortable room at the Foxfield Inn. Take a stroll around our grounds or enjoy a session in our outdoor hot tub. We are more than happy to recommend our favorite stops for dinner. If you happen to be visiting on Saturday, April 29, you must participate in the iconic Foxfield Steeplechase Races! As a spectator to the excitement of the hills and hurdles on this grass track, you will join the longstanding equestrian community.