I planned this March Break trip to Virginia Beach before winter had set in. I had to check out the expected average temperatures for the area when we arrived and stayed. Virginia Beach would be the farthest south Charlene has ever travelled and my farthest in three decades. When I was researching the weather, I checked out the botanical gardens in the area to see what they expected to have blooming in mid-March. 

The winter of 2023/2024 has been unusually mild for everyone. As the time approached for us to arrive, I began to get excited that many of the earliest spring bloomers would be in full display. I was right; spring did indeed sprung early in the Virginia Beach area. 

Our home is in the centre of Southwestern Ontario; we were still in the full grips of a stalled winter and a spring trying to spring forward. When we left, a single crocus was trying to emerge from the soil in our garden. At Norfolk Botanical Garden, every daffodil, several tulips, and many trees were at their peak. We had come at the right time! 

Admission was free for us since we have a membership at the Royal Botanical Garden. This membership includes free access to many other flowery locations throughout Canada and the USA. We have gotten our money’s worth time and time again.  

The park is large, and easy to walk from one section to another. There are statues and palm trees (yes, palm trees—we have never seen palm trees mixed with spring-blooming trees like magnolia and bulbs like daffodils and tulips). 

As we walked from section to section, we came across an area devoted to kitchen gardening. I was initially about to pass this by and continue walking to the next section, but one of the guides in this area grabbed our attention and began to give us a tour.  

As a kid, I would raid my parents’ garden. I loved grabbing peas and beans right off the vine. There is nothing like the freshest vegetables. Even carrots I would pull out of the garden, wipe off the dirt, and feast on the freshness of this vegetable while spitting out the soil that I missed. At this garden, I was allowed to sample various vegetables. Not being a fan of brussels sprouts (who is?), I was offered a tiny sprout. The guide convinced me that the sulphur smell is gone from this variety, which is why many people snub their noses to this green menace. I popped the tiny sprout into my mouth and was impressed. It had a familiar taste, like a combination of green beans and something else. I liked it. Because food was involved, I stayed with this tour guide to learn more about kitchen gardening. 

One of the surprise samples I had was stevia. He grabbed a small leaf, and I chewed it in my mouth. After a few seconds, all I could taste was sweetness. It was amazing. My expression was evident, and the guide laughed. I immediately thought about how many people would start eating salad if they switched out the lettuce with a stevia leaf.    

The airport that services the area is right next door. There is a viewing area by the parking lot where it is easy to watch planes landing and taking off. What the tower is saying to the pilots can also be heard from the benches provided. A few mothers and their small children were enjoying this simple attraction. It was cool, so I walked to it and waited to watch a plane take off. Dad took us as kids to the airport to watch planes. I thought I would relive the moment, but I arrived at this spot when no more planes were coming. We would abandon this part and continue touring the gardens. We saw it lift into the air when we decided to return to the car and leave that another plane would take off.  

Sadly, the butterfly house was not open yet—we missed it by only a week or two. But they were getting ready for their orchid show. We have been to numerous orchid shows, and I wondered if we have seen enough orchids. A sign in the greenhouse hosting this future show stated that some 110,000 varieties of orchids exist.

Oh.

So, we still have quite a bit to discover.  

Wow.

Botanical gardens need to be experienced on a regular basis. We happened to arrive right when the spring flowers were at their prime, but there were other flowers, plants, and trees all getting ready to bloom. While walking around, I wanted to return again later in the season to see what else was in bloom.  

  • Norfolk Botanical Garden is a respectable size. It is possible to spend several hours here. The ground is relatively flat, and the walk is easy.
  • There is ample parking.
  • Admission is collected at the gate.
  • This is one of many gardens that benefit from the Reciprocal Admissions Program. Membership is worth getting if you travel a lot or would like to visit the same garden throughout the seasons.
  • Check out my Featured Map to see where Norfolk Botanical Garden is located and what other nearby attractions we have explored.
  • Stop and smell the flowers, but remember, no picking.

RELATED ARTICLES

USS Wisconsin

When planning my Virginia Beach road trip for March Break, I noticed many military bases. In fact, the campsite that we were staying at warned us that there is an active base beside it. During our stay, we would hear helicopters, jets, and other loud vehicles.…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *