If your favorite part about the changing seasons involves blooming flowers and budding trees, make a visit to these Virginia and Washington, DC, arboretums and botanical gardens for beautiful collections of plants.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
Hidden away in Vienna, this 95-acre property is full of stunning local flora and fauna, lakes, and forests. Meadowlark is known for its regional native plant conservation program. Thousands of bulbs bloom in the spring, and summer is rich with color and texture. From April through October, you can visit from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. From November to March, visiting hours are from 10 a.m.to 3 p.m. 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct., Vienna, $3 for ages 6-17 and 55+, $6 for ages 18–54, free for 5 and under
United States Botanic Garden
Just across the Potomac River awaits the oldest continuously operating botanic garden throughout the country. From plants grown across the mid-Atlantic (like witch hazel and trumpet honeysuckle) to rare and endangered species from across the world, there are thousands of natural wonders to enjoy. The garden is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC, free
State Arboretum of Virginia
Virginia’s own arboretum is located on the Blandy Experimental Farm. The picturesque 172-acre property is highlighted by its 3,000 gingko trees that turn golden yellow in the fall, a boxwood garden with over 162 cultivars (largest of its kind), and themed gardens. A self-guided tour takes you to 11 stops. The arboretum is open every day of the year from dawn to dusk. 400 Blandy Farm Ln., Boyce, free
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
With 50 acres of gardens, the jaunt to Richmond is worth the day trip. Each season brings different blooms. As you wander the million blooms, make sure to stop by the Asian Valley Farm Garden and Cochrane Rose Garden. The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas. 1800 Lakeside Ave., Richmond, $17 for adults, $14 for seniors, $8 for children 3–12, free for under 3
Edith J. Carrier Arboretum
From spring to winter, this woodland sanctuary that preserves native plants is open to the public 365 days a year from dawn to dusk. Every month, something new is in bloom. In May, see bluebells, wild geraniums, and golden ragwort. Hosted on the James Madison University campus, this green space serves as an outdoor classroom to visitors of all ages. And, yes, you can bring your dog, on a leash. 780 University Blvd., Harrisonburg, free
U.S. National Arboretum
The National Arboretum spans 450 acres and is home to 15 different gardens and collections, including Fern Valley, the Grove of State Trees, and the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. Note: The arboretum’s boxwood and perennial collections are closed through summer 2023. The tropical conservatory is closed until further notice. The arboretum’s grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 3501 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC, free
For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine’s Things to Do newsletter.