The Photo Garden Bee Tours Three Fantastic Gardens across Virginia!


The Bee Tours Virginia! © Britt Conley

This past weekend, my sister Erika, (Official Assistant Photo Garden Bee) accompanied me on a three city Virginia Garden extravaganza.  We drove from the coast to the mountains between Norfolk, Richmond and Charlottesville.

Map of our drive between Charlottesville to Norfolk

The 162.54 mile drive was beautiful!  Throughout the weekend I took thousands of photographs and will be featuring various aspects of each garden over the next month or more.  Due to the sheer amount of content I decided to start with this overall of the weekend tour before I get into the individual features.

The Bee Mobile at Norfolk Botanical Gardens © Britt Conley

Friday we packed The Bee mobile, as we call it, and headed down to Richmond from Washington DC on Saturday to Visit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  Lewis Ginter has nearly twenty unique garden areas if not more through out the massive acreage.  Yet again the grounds were perfectly lovely.  Asian Valley was nearly magical.

Lewis Ginter's Asian Valley © Britt Conley

I must have taken a thousand photos throughout the day!

Asian Valley Lewis Ginter © Britt Conley

Despite having been here numerous times, we manged to find new paths leading to new areas I had never seen.  With all the paths and twists and turns It’s easy to miss a picture perfect place like this…

Stream at Lewis Ginter © Britt Conley

Of course no one can miss the Lake that separates the Rose Garden and Children’s Garden.  It has always been one of favorite things to photograph here.  The lake changes its atmospheric feel throughout the days lighting.  If only I had a boat!

The Lake Lewis Ginter © Britt Conley

Erika was thrilled to find that Lewis Ginter was on the Audubon’s Birding List.  Being a avid bird watcher, she was in birding heaven!

Erika spent the day birdwatching at Lewis Ginter © Britt Conley

Right now Lewis Ginter is featuring the art of Hans Godo Frabel with the  Mid-Atlantic premier of his installation Glorious Glass in the Garden.  I’ll featuring it for Thursday’s Bee post.  There will be more Lewis Ginter features to come!

Our next stop was Norfolk Botanical Garden which is essentially where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.  A stunning geographic area.  The garden is absolutely huge!  It also has nearly twenty diverse, themed garden areas.

The fountain at Norfolk Botanical Garden © Britt Conley

I have been out photographing Hydrangeas around the DC area for weeks in an attempt to gather as many varieties as possible for my upcoming hydrangea post.  Little did I know that Norfolk Botanical Garden has it’s own Hydrangea forest garden!  I be doing a post on this next week!

Hydrangeas at Norfolk Botanical Garden © Britt Conley

The Roses at the International Test Garden are famous world wide for a reason!

Roses Norfolk Botanical Garden © Britt Conley

Even the Geese were enamoured!

Canadian Geese at Norfolk Botanical Garden © Britt Conley

We finally managed to take the famous 45 minute boat ride through the garden canal system.  The tour guide sent us out to bird watch from the immense lake!

The Norfolk Botanical Garden's boat ride © Britt Conley

The garden’s canal system was built in the 1960s.  It  wanders it’s way through many of the garden areas with viewing benches along the way.

Waterway at Norfolk Botanical Gardens © Britt Conley

With all the woods, Erika was a busy bee!  She just couldn’t put her binoculars down!  She will be doing a Bee Post of her own on the gardens Bald Eagles!

Erika bird watching at Norfolk Botanical Garden © Britt Conley

We must have seen half a dozen different Geese out with their young.   At one point we were blocked from our destination with three sets of parents and offspring groups wading across the pathway in perfect formation.

Geese © Britt Conley

The gardens areas are so diverse it almost felt like we traveled the worlds geography!  Out in the beating sun was a fun grass land with a carved complex Butterfly Winged design.  Really fun for kids!

Butterfly Maze Norfolk Botantical Garden © Britt Conley

As with all the gardens we visited the flowers were the main event.  I must have photographed hundreds of individual blooms.

Cone Flower © Britt Conley

The ground covers here were also colorfully flanking paths.

Bee Photographing the way to the next garden © Britt Conley

Much, much more to come on Norfolk’s Botanical Garden.  I see many a feature in the coming weeks!

Monticello © Britt Conley

The last stop on our whirlwind weekend was Monticello!  We almost didn’t make it.  Erika and I were so sunburned we slept in yesterday.  After pulling the hotel curtains back, the blue sky beckoned and we were back on!

The Dirt Path at Monticello © Britt Conley

Now we came to see Thomas Jefferson’s Heritage Garden and it was magnificent! This is just a teaser of a small corner of the garden.  Several posts are coming on the garden including a wonderful one on one with one of the gardeners Pat brodowski!  What an informative exchange it was!

The Monticello Garden © Britt Conley

This wasn’t the only garden here!  There were also the yard flowers which set Monticello’s backyard view.

The Monticello Garden © Britt Conley

The most stunning thing about Monticello is the view.  Jefferson clearly loved it and enjoyed it often.

The view from Monticello's Heritage Vegetable Garden © Britt Conley

Well, the weekend offered an amazing cross view of the Virginian countryside.  The gardens were outstanding as always.  I’ll be offering more in depth features of  each garden over the next weeks.  There is simply so much to feature at each location!  I hope you enjoyed the overview.

The Photo Garden Bee visiting Norfolk Botanical Gardens © Britt Conley

As always feel free to visit the Suggest a Garden page!  I am always looking for another magical garden to visit around the country.

‘Til Tomorrow…

Britt : )

Related posts:

  1. The Photo Garden Bee Lifts off in a Hot air balloon over Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.
  2. Bicentennial Rose Garden at Norfolk Botanical Garden
  3. The Kaufman Hydrangea Garden at Norfolk Botanical Garden
  4. Today’s Featured Post: A Letter from The Photo Garden Bee
  5. Part IV: The Asian Valley at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.




  1. Perry Mathewes

    Just a couple of comments on Norfolk Botanical Garden, where I work. We have more than 30 different theme gardens. If you like Hydrangeas, then this is indeed the place. We hold the country's only NAPCC (North American Plant Collections Consortium) collection of hydrangeas and have over 200 different cultivars and species. A great chance to compare all sorts of Hydrangeas! And come back in the winter - we have one of two NAPCC collections of camellias.

    Finally a bit of history. The Garden started as a WPA project in 1938. The canals were built in 1960 and were not part of the WPA program.

  2. Britt

    Thanks Perry! That is tremendously helpfull! I was beyond impressed with the Hydrangea collection as with the rest of the garden! It if definately one of my top picks for East coast! Also, I'll change the canal part, I was clearly misinformed! Thanks for setting me straight : ) I'll be posting my Norfolk Botanical Garden Features over the next few weeks!


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