Part of the spectacle of the National Cherry Blossom Festival includes the multitude of visitors that flock to Washington, DC to see the famous cherry trees along the Tidal Basin. This year, we may see some restrictions in place due to the pandemic, but either way, if you're looking for a more tranquil and off-the-beaten-path way to celebrate what the National Cherry Blossom Festival signifies, check out some of Fairfax County's hidden and acclaimed gardens. Plan a visit and let us show you how we appreciate seasonal beauty and international friendship. Also, keep tabs on official events and peak bloom updates by visiting our cherry blossom page.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
Tucked away on a remote road in Vienna, right outside of one of the busiest city centers in Fairfax County, you’ll find Meadowlark Botanical Gardens – truly a breathtaking treasure. Each season you’ll discover something new; commitment to plant diversely at Meadowlark is one of its greatest strengths.
Highlights: Paths and walkways for easy strolling and relaxing. A center for environmental and horticultural education. Botanical gardens with large ornamental and native plant collections. Exceptional open space provided by Virginia's rolling Piedmont region. Three lakes provide serene views. Neatly-tended forest gardens. The iconic Korean Bell Garden. TULIPS (my favorite) and wildflowers. Great Blue Herons and waterlilies. Koi fish and turtles.
Meadowlark is a bold, yet intimate space. It’s a Garden for education, conservation aesthetics, and community. Most importantly for some of us, it’s quiet and insulated from urbanity. This is a great destination for visitors of all types and can only be appreciated fully when one steps into its embrace. So stretch your legs, get some sunshine and enjoy the beauty of the Piedmont Hills.
Green Spring Gardens
Photo courtesy of Green Spring Gardens
What can we say–we’ve got history. Fairfax County, Virginia has more historic buildings than you can count and Green Spring Gardens is no exception. GSG is a must-visit park, a year-round gold mine of information and inspiration for the home gardener. It's an outdoor classroom, a museum, and a national historic site.
You will never see a more involved community than here - our people love what they do. Above all else, we appreciate what the past has left behind for our future. The culture and heritage left behind at Green Spring Gardens continue to shape the site's wealth of daily interpretive programs and activities.
Highlights: Classes and Camps, Farmers Markets, Garden Tours, Historic Programs, Art Exhibits, Gardening Resources and Blogs, Garden Plots, Horticulture Library, Trails and so much more. You have to see it to experience it – in all its Fairfaxian glory. Don’t miss this one!
The Gardens of Mount Vernon
George Washington's mind was rarely far from the lush gardens and majestic views at Mount Vernon. Today you can explore the gardens Washington developed and enjoy his unspoiled view across the Potomac River. The estate features four distinct gardens for you to enjoy today. Washington's Upper Garden was intended as a formal garden for the enjoyment of the Washingtons' guests, and the Lower Garden was the estate's kitchen garden, which allowed the Washingtons to keep fruits and vegetables on the table year-round. The small botanical garden at the estate was not a major feature, but this simple plot was close to his heart as he often tended it himself, experimenting with new plant varieties. And the area known as the fruit garden and nursery began as a failed attempt at a vineyard. Once the grapes failed, the four-acre fruit garden and nursery was created.
Highlights: In addition to the specialty gardens noted above, a visit here allows you to learn about a different side of George Washington. While here, you can also tour the mansion and outbuildings, walk through the education center and museum exhibits, "hike" the nature trail towards the Pioneer Farm and Wharf, and/or pay your respects at the General's tomb. Mount Vernon is open 365 days a year and a ticket is required to enter. For more tips, check out our blog on 10 Ways to Experience Mount Vernon.
Photos courtesy of River Farm
A historic 25-acre site on the banks of the Potomac River, River Farm was once part of George Washington's original five farms and is currently the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society. Japanese Gardens are known for the use of many different elements to create a serene place of nature and reflection. Our gardens, like River Farm, radiate with local history and have hints of Japanese garden elements (water, garden bridges, garden gates, trees, flowers, and fish). With this, we create our own unique spaces like nowhere else.
Highlights: Native wildflowers, a walnut tree as old as George Washington, an array of wildlife such as bluebirds, marsh hawks, ospreys, bald eagles, and butterflies. A children's garden that is home to more than a dozen themed mini-gardens to stimulate children's interest in plants and nature. Perennials and a 200-year-old Osage orange tree. Tulips and colors like you've never seen!
COVID Note: River Farm is currently closed to the public, but can be visited by appointment. Be sure to call 703.768.5700 to schedule a tour.
Looking for more ways to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Fairfax County? Check out some of the special events happening throughout March and April and keep tabs on those peak bloom dates by visiting our special Cherry Blossom page. Don't forget to share your favorite cherry blossom photos with us on social media using #FXVA and @VisitFairfax.