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Exploring the Richmond Garden Trail

Published Apr 5, 2015

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Richmond - From meticulously landscaped grounds to expansive botanical gardens, the Richmond Garden Trail offers a wide variety of foliage and highlights some of Richmond's finest public gardens and green spaces. (Bonus: Many of the sites are free on weekends.) Whether you are a garden enthusiast, a recreational green thumb or a history buff (or all three!), a visitor to the trail can take in Richmond, see stunning blossoms and celebrate spring.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

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This year-round botanical garden was founded in 1895 as an upscale bicycle club and, at one time, featured a lake, a nine-hole golf course and a zoo. Today, the grounds offer more than 50 acres of flowers and foliage. Highlights include the Rose Garden, containing more than 1 800 roses and 80 varieties; the Children's Garden, which includes a wheelchair-accessible treehouse, activity centre and water-play area; and the Henry M. Flagler Perennial Garden - one of the most extensive of its kind on the East Coast. End your day at the Robins Tea House, which overlooks the Asian Valley garden.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The plan for the museum's 3.5-acre Robins Sculpture Garden was most recently designed by the Philadelphia design firm OLIN, the same team behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art's public plaza. The VMFA, one of the most comprehensive art museums in the country, has the largest public collection of imperial Fabergé eggs outside Russia. Visit the “Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower” exhibit, which runs through June 21.

The Valentine

The courtyard garden at the history centre, adjacent to the 1812 John Wickham House, is the perfect lunchtime escape for locals and visitors. The garden, a popular wedding and event venue, was originally envisioned as a backyard space and play area for the 19 children of prominent lawyer John Wickham. Sneak a spot near the 19th-century iron fountain or a table under a 208-year-old magnolia tree. After investigating the grounds, pop into sculptor Edward Valentine's restored 19th-century studio to see hundreds of the artist's works, tools and belongings.

Capitol Square

Established in 1818, the Capitol Square was one of the earliest American urban parks designed in an English, romantic picturesque style. At the epicenter of Richmond, this 12-acre landscape showcases a multitude of gardens, monuments and memorials. The George Washington Equestrian Monument, the oldest statue in the square, was originally intended as the final resting place of President Washington. (His remains are at his Mount Vernon estate.)

Maymont

Often called the “Central Park of Richmond,” Maymont is a 100-acre landscape, with a 45-foot cascading waterfall. See Eastern and Western influences up close in the Japanese and Italian gardens. Don't miss the Secret Garden, an enclosed courtyard that features yellow Lady Banks roses, hidden within the Italian Garden. Visiting with children? Visit the park's native Virginia wildlife sanctuary, home to bison, black bears and river otters.

Virginia centre for Architecture

Architect John Russell Pope, who also designed the Jefferson Memorial and the West Building of the National Gallery of Art, is believed to have designed this charming backyard space. The enclosed landscape, the largest in the city's historic Fan District, complements the architectural design of the 27 000-square-foot Tudor Revival mansion and features brick walls that give the spot character and texture. Guests can expect to see tulips, jonquils, daffodils and dogwoods in bloom next month. The museum offers an architectural tour of the historic home the second Sunday of each month.

Agecroft Hall

Framing the 16th-century English Tudor manor, the neoclassical English gardens reflect the estate's style and time period. Constructed in Lancashire, England, the home was disassembled in the 1920s, shipped across the Atlantic and reassembled in Richmond. The grounds feature an Elizabethan knot garden, a medicinal herb garden, a circular fragrance garden and a sunken garden, modelled after the pond garden at England's Hampton Court Palace. Check out the “still house,” which re-creates how people traditionally prepared, transformed and distilled herbs into remedies and preventives.

Edgar Allan Poe Museum

The museum's “enchanted” backyard garden, inspired by Poe's poem “To One in Paradise,” is a shrine to the author and poet. The courtyard's walls are constructed from stones of the building facade of Poe's old employer, the Southern Literary Messenger magazine, and his New York home. Visitors and fans leave mementos, most commonly notes or spare change, below a white-plaster bust of Poe. Swing by April 23 for the summer's first “unhappy hour,” a monthly event featuring live music, poetry readings and refreshments.

Megan McDonough, The Washington Post

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