The Richmond Garden Trail offers a unique spring activity for families, students, couples and of course, horticulturists. The trail consists of ten breathtaking sites within ten miles of one another. Each site provides something different than the next, making each visit quite memorable. Because the garden sites are not walkable from one to the next, patrons can break the trail into several, leisurely trips, or create a full RVA Garden Trail day by visiting all in one day. With no official starting or end point, there is no wrong way to journey through the Richmond Garden Trail. Below are details on each of the garden sites:
Agecroft Hall (4305 Sulgave Rd., Richmond, VA, 23221) is a stunning 15th century Tudor manor, moved from England to Richmond in the 1920s. The manor is surrounded by the gorgeous, English inspired gardens.
While strolling the gardens at Agecroft, do not miss the Elizabethan Knot Garden nor the Sunken Garden. A visitor favorite is the secret Shakespeare Garden, hidden by boxwoods. Here, visitors will find a restored 1920’s fountain; don’t leave without tossing in a coin and making a wish. In the spring season, garden patrons may request a hand drawn tulip map upon check in, to help identify the various breathtaking tulips for which Agecroft is known. Other highlights at Agecroft Gardens: the Woodland Walk, a short walk behind the gardens offering an incredible view of the James River; picnics are permitted in the garden, field trips and programs periodically. Standard admission to Agecroft Gardens is $5, with discounts for seniors, students and children. If planning to visit Agecroft several times throughout the year, consider purchasing the annual membership for $25. (Thursday – Sunday 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM)
Branch Museum Museum of Architecture & Design (2501 Monument Ave., Richmond, VA, 23220) is a museum in a Tudor revival mansion. The garden at the museum is one of the best kept secrets in Richmond; and, one of the largest backyards in the historic Fan district.
The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design garden itself is large, walled and absolutely elegant. The Branch Museum offers a Garden and Grounds Day annually to offer locals a chance to assist with the care of the gardens, providing a glimpse of the work that goes into keeping the gorgeous green space maintained. The secluded garden offers an intimate venue for private events. Admission is $5, children 6 and younger are free. (Wednesday – Friday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Saturday, 10:00AM – 4:00 PM; Sunday, 1:00PM – 5:00 PM)
Capitol Square Preservation Council (1000 Bank St., Richmond, VA, 23219) is a 12-acre park consisting of several monuments, memorials, the Executive mansion, and of course, the National HIstoric Landmark Virginia State Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson.
The rich history at Capitol Square is incomparable; including the nation’s oldest purpose built executive mansion still in use, the Bell Tower built in 1824, and monuments of several impactful Virginians. The fountains, benches and rolling hills make this garden a popular outdoor attraction for both locals and tourists. Taking in the history and the beautiful gardens is memorable as well as free.
Great Shiplock Park and the Low Line (2803 Dock St., Richmond, VA, 23223) is a Richmond city park serving as the western trailhead of the Virginia Capital Trail.
The lock, for which the park is named, connected the James River to the Richmond Dock. Thanks to the Capital Trees organization, Great Shiplock Park and the Low Line have transformed to attractive greenspaces. The Low Line connects the popular Richmond Canal Walk to Great Shiplock Park. Park activities include: hiking, running, boating and fishing.
John Marshall House (818 East Marshall St., Richmond, VA, 23219) was built in 1790 for the family of John Marshall, a Supreme Court Justice.
The space outside the John Marshall House includes a stunning garden displaying plants similar to those that are thought to have been appreciated by the Marshall family. Many of the plants at the John Marshall House are found in the colonial gardens in Williamsburg and Yorktown. The garden has been described as “colorful” and “remarkable” time and time again. Admission is $10, discounts for seniors, students, children. (Friday, Saturday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Sunday, 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (1800 Lakeside Ave., Henrico, VA, 23228) is synonymous with spring for many Richmonders.
Lewis Ginter features several themed gardens, including the Asian Valley, Cherry Tree Walk and the ever breathtaking Rose Garden. The gardens seem to have a magical way about them as visitors notice something different and new with each visit. Not to miss: the iconic LOVEwork sign, rolling down “the” hill, the classical domed conservatory, creating cairns and the bumble bee dance. A family favorite is walking through the gardens and stopping for a picnic lunch before hitting the Tree Trail behind the Children’s Garden. The beauty of the gardens make it an appealing choice for private events, photographers, nature walks and even marriage proposals. Lewis Ginter holds the annual Dominion GardenFest of Lights, a tradition for many families. Additionally, the gardens offer childrens’ programs, summer camps, adult classes, seminars, field trips and more. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is expansive with more than 50 acres; encourage children to complete the scavenger hunt while visiting to find and learn even more. Admission is $14; discounts for seniors, children. Garden membership provides a way to save for those who plan to visit multiple times throughout the year; discounts on garden membership for students. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is a participant in the Museums for All Initiative for those families who may be eligible for this program. (10:00AM – 5:00 PM daily)
Maymont Gardens (1700 Hampton St., Richmond, VA, 23220) are iconic in Richmond.
While Maymont is no secret to locals, visiting Maymont to take in the gardens takes on a whole new experience. Entering from the Maymont Mansion, patrons take in the Italian Garden complete with a fountain, pergola, sculpture and overlooking the James River. A popular place to climb rocks, take photos and relax is in the Japanese Garden. Here, Maymont offers paths, bridges, stone lanterns and a minimal use of flowers. Inspired by gardens in Kyoto, Tokyo and Nara, this style is called quite fittingly a “stroll garden”. You simply cannot miss walking over the stones at the koi point or stopping to relax at the gazebo. The Aboretum at Maymont includes more than 200 species of trees and plants. Many of these can be found by the Historic Estate Entrance. Not to be forgotten are the various specialty gardens at Maymont: the Butterfly Garden, The Carriage House Garden, the Grotto, the Herb Garden are only a few at which to marvel during your time at the 100-acre estate park. Maymont admission is free, suggested donation of $5. (10:00AM – 7:00 PM daily)
Poe Museum (1914 East Main St., Richmond, VA, 23223) is home to the incredibly thoughtful Enchanted Garden, based on Poe’s poem “To One in Paradise”.
Every aspect of the garden at the Poe Museum is detailed and intentional from the bricks from Poe’s original home to the benches from the site where Poe was married. As a nod to Poe’s love of cats, the Poe Museum has two resident cats, Edgar and Pluto, who welcome all who visit the Enchanted Garden. The beauty of the Enchanted Garden make it an appealing venue for weddings, birthdays and other private events. Not to miss is the Poe Shrine, where patrons will find a bust of Poe. Admission is $9 for adults; discounts for seniors, children, veterans; free for children 6 years old and younger, active duty personnel and their dependents. Thinking of repeat visits to the Poe Museum? A membership may be the most cost effective choice. (Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Sunday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM)
The Valentine (1015 East Clay St., Richmond, VA, 23219) is a beautiful garden featuring the Wickham House and Edward Valentine Sculpture Studio.
Home to a magnolia tree over 200 years old, the Valentine garden provides a quiet charm in the midst of the MCV bustle. An ideal place for eating alfresco, pack a picnic or purchase lunch at the Carriage House Cafe (at the gardens) and enjoy your meal while taking in the calming scenery. Admission is free; must register tickets in advance (Monday: members only, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (200 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd., Richmond, VA, 23220) is home to the E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden.
Since 2010, the VMFA’s extraordinary garden has been admired and enjoyed by all. From the sculpture exhibition to the waterfall and whimsical florals; this garden is inviting to all. Garden patrons are sure to admire the Neptune maquette by Richmond sculptor Paul diPasquale, as well as the Red Reeds by Chihuly in the reflecting pool. The grassy area in the garden makes for an excellent picnic venue; and, there are tables as well. Admission is free to the garden and permanent VMFA exhibits. (Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00PM; Wednesday- Friday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM)
One does not have to be a gardener to enjoy the beauty of the Richmond Garden Trail. Fortunately, for locals discovering the gardens is an affordable and beautiful activity nearly everyone can enjoy.
⭐️ About Richmond on the Cheap contributor Lindsay Garrison:
Lindsay Garrison is a Richmond, Virginia based Mom to two young children. A graduate from Chesterfield Schools and Randolph-Macon College, Lindsay is proud to call Richmond home. In the years prior to planning activities and outings with her own children, she was a French teacher. During her tenure she earned accolades for her creative teaching style and ability to connect with her students. Lindsay now applies the skills she learned when she was planning student trips to France, to her own family adventures. She can’t wait to take her own children to France one day! Follow the Garrison’s family adventures on Instagram: @thegarrisonsrva
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