The abundance of warm Spring days and sun-showers means that the Fredericksburg area is blooming once again! Without a doubt, you need to tour our local gardens before the classic Virginia humidity sets in. If you were unaware that Fredericksburg had gardens, or are unsure of where to look, we’ve compiled a starter list to get you moving in the right direction.
Want more information on local gardens or tours? Check out the Fredericksburg City, Spotsylvania County and Stafford County visitor center websites, or come by in person! We love chatting about the best spots to visit and upcoming events.
Historic Kenmore Plantation - This historic site is nestled in the heart of downtown Fredericksburg. We suggest taking a guided home tour and then exploring the beautifully kept garden and grounds (3 acres) afterwards. The entire site is a fascinating reflection on our colonial past. You could make an entire day of it, and head over to Ferry Farm afterwards, in Stafford County! Did you know George Washington moved here when he was six years old? At Ferry Farm, you’ll find a wide variety of seasonal plants typically grown during the 1700’s; like tobacco, cotton and corn.
Mary Washington House - Did you know that Mary Ball Washington, the mother of George Washington, enjoyed gardening? Legend has it that if one ever had to go looking for her, she could often be found tending to her roses and boxwoods. When her home was saved in 1890, the garden was no longer recognizable as a colonial garden. Through the aid of the Garden Club of Virginia, the garden was replanted and restored as a colonial revival garden. The garden is maintained by the Washington Heritage Museums’ gardener and a group of wonderful volunteers. As the garden nears the 50th anniversary of its rededication, it is a beautiful setting for a wedding, party, or an afternoon visit.
Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont. - Arguably the most well-known gardens in the region can be found at Belmont. Geri and his wife Corinne Melcher were painters, who brought their artistic gifts to their gardens, and home. Amongst the flowers were vegetable and fruit patches, as well as orchards, which added function to the grounds intrinsic beauty. Currently, the varieties of flowers you can find at Belmont include: sedum, iris, peonies, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, cosmos, old-fashioned hollyhocks, zinnia, ageratum, geranium, and verbena! Corrine was perhaps best known for her extraordinary rose beds. Today, the gardens are well maintained and open to the public. You can even get married at Belmont!
Chatham Manor.- Just a few miles from Belmont, you’ll find historic Chatham Manor and its incredible grounds. While the interiors of the outbuildings are not open to the public, you are welcome to explore the flower gardens and grounds. Be sure to take in the unparalleled, panoramic view of downtown Fredericksburg’s skyline and Rappahannock River, from the front terraces. Chatham Manor was built in 1771, by farmer and statesman William Fitzhugh. The National Park Service began the restoration of the 1920's colonial revival east garden, in 1984.
YMCA’s “Giving, Learning, and Acceptance” gardens- In 2013, the Massad Family YMCA (Stafford County) starting a 30x30 garden named,“The Giving Garden,” with a grant from The CarMax Foundation. The Giving Garden promotes healthy eating through hands-on education about produce, gardening skills, and the stages of growing plants. It also gives real access to nutritious, organic produce. Over the years, the Massad YMCA was able to expand the size of the Giving Garden, as well as add a greenhouse and a sensory garden.
“The financial assistance families in our youth programs are able to eat healthy produce from our garden. We also have been learning about giving by donating healthy produce to The Fredericksburg Area Food Bank, Hazel Hill and Stafford Junction throughout the growing season. In 2015, a garden was added to the Ron Rosner Family YMCA (Spotsylvania County) named “The Learning Garden.” In 2016, The Caroline Family YMCA (Caroline County) started the “Acceptance Garden.”
The Teaching Garden / The Doctor Yum Kitchen- Local pediatrician Nimali Fernando MD, MPH, is extraordinarily passionate about teaching families healthy eating habits. Those habits begin in the kitchen.
I think we all know: What begins in the kitchen originates in a garden.
In the case of The Doctor Yum Project Kitchen, that garden, the aptly named Teaching Garden, is right outside their door. This is one hardworking space! The Teaching Garden was thoughtfully planted to show families how to garden in small spaces, show kids how food grows and to inspire kids to eat healthier, be a place of learning and activity for their cooking students, become a place to grow food which is used in the kitchen, be a place to conduct learning activities around gardening, and become an active waiting space for Yum Pediatrics patients.
"Much of the food that is grown is enjoyed in our cooking classes, in the Doctor Yum Project Kitchen, and enjoyed by students and visitors stopping by.” - Dotor Yum
If you are interested in volunteering or visiting The Teaching Garden, or have questions for The Doctor Yum Project, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop – Technically this is both a historic and an educational garden. In the 18th century, many illnesses and injuries were treated with natural remedies, including herbs.The Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop features a Physick Garden, which is a modeled after traditional apothecary gardens of the time. The garden features 52 plants noted by Dr. Hugh Mercer as having been used for medicines, tinctures, and ointments. The Town and Country Garden Club helps Washington Heritage Museums maintain the garden. As you stroll its paths, be sure to stop into the Apothecary Shop for a tour to learn how many of the plants were used.
Written by Brenda Sapanghila