Frolic in the flowers of Lynchburg’s gardens this spring!
By Brandy Centolanza
Spring is a time of rebirth, a chance to experience nature anew. During your next visit to Lynchburg this spring, consider heading outdoors, soaking up the sun, and admiring all the flora and fauna that can be found throughout the city. Here’s what’s popping up at local gardens this spring.
Old City Cemetery Museums & Arboretum, established in 1806, is one of the most visited historic sites in Lynchburg. During springtime, the cemetery, which boasts a 27-acre public garden, is the place to be. The garden consists of hundreds of native and heirloom plants and is home to the largest collection of antique roses in Virginia. There are more than 400 antique roses, or “Old Garden Roses,” on site. Rose enthusiasts will want to check out Old City Cemetery’s annual rose sale in April, where more than 100 varieties of antique and heirloom roses will be available for purchase. In May, the cemetery will host a Rose Symposium as well as a Wine & Roses Garden Party. Other classes and programs will be held throughout the spring and summer. Old City Cemetery also has a lotus pond, a shrub garden, a butterfly garden, a small plot for medicinal herbs, and an apple tree orchard.
401 Taylor Street
The home of African American civil rights activist and poet Anne Spencer boasts an historic garden that her husband, Edward, built for her. It is the only known restored garden of an African American in the United States, maintained by Hillside Garden Club. Be sure to check out the rose garden, which includes all of Anne Spencer’s original roses. “Roses were one of Anne Spencer’s favorites,” says Shaun Spencer-Hester, Anne Spencer’s granddaughter. “She also planted hydrangeas, sweet pea, and tulips.” The Anne Spencer Garden also features a cottage garden near Anne Spencer’s writing studio and a central water garden, where guests can sit and relax and enjoy the view. “One of my favorite things to do in my grandparent’s garden is to sit by the pond and watch the birds come and go as I listen to their song,” Shaun Spencer-Hester says.
The Garden Conservancy will host the program “Digging Deeper: The Root of It! History, Restoration, and Poetry in Anne Spencer’s Garden” in May.
1313 Pierce Street
The Claytor Nature Center at the University of Lynchburg was gifted to the college in 1998 by Bedford businessman A. Boyd Claytor III. “We have seven miles of walking trails, wetlands, two ponds, a 1.2 mile stretch of the Big Otter River, and many natural plant and animal habitats to see and study,” shares Greg Eaton, the nature center’s director. Along the Bog Garden boardwalk, visitors can expect to see skunk cabbage flowers throughout the month of March. The daffodils on “Daffodil Hill” on Cloverlea Lane should also peak in March. Wildflowers including Virginia bluebells and fire pinks will be on display along the center’s trails in April. The Claytor Nature Center also has two display gardens, the Virginia Claytor Memorial Garden at the Cloverlea Farmhouse with formal gardens overlooking the mountains, and the Research and Demonstration Garden, which showcases a variety of All-American Selections flowers and ornamental landscape plants. There is also a native American Chestnut orchard in collaboration with the American Chestnut Foundation.
1844 Woods Rd, Bedford
Spring is the perfect time to visit Riverside Park to admire all of the park’s cherry trees. Riverside Park is home to Kwanza and Okame cherries and a few Yoshinos, which should all bloom from mid-March to mid-April, depending on the weather. In addition, Riverside Park has two pollinator gardens, a butterfly garden near the parking lot and a fenced in pollinator garden near the train. “Late spring would probably be the most colorful time in spring to visit the gardens,” says Jerry Whitmore with the city’s Buildings & Grounds Department. “When visiting pollinator gardens, remember to ‘think like a bee’ as they ‘see’ color differently than we humans do. Look closely for many varieties of native bees and other pollinators on the blooms or maybe you will notice a butterfly puddling in the mud or sunning on a rock.”
2238 Rivermont Avenue
This garden sits on the property of the historic Miller-Claytor House, the city’s sole remaining 18th Century Town House. The house was first owned by tavern keeper John Miller and later purchased by tobacco merchant and State Senator Samuel Claytor. The Lynchburg Garden Club has been maintaining the garden since 1936. Famed Virginia landscape architect Charles Gillette designed the garden, which is located at Riverside Park. The Lynchburg Garden Club restored Miller-Clayton Garden to its original garden plan in 1990 and added a stone patio in 2011.
2206 Miller-Clayton Lane
The Awareness Garden was created to honor those whose lives have been impacted by cancer. Family members, friends, and caregivers can visit the garden’s greenspace to find peace, reflect, and celebrate the lives of those who’ve battled the disease. The Awareness Garden includes an engraved brick pathway, a fountain, a butterfly garden and a scenery filled with trees and colorful perennial flowers, providing a place of hope, healing, and support for its guests.
1700 Old Langhorne Road
Brandy Centolanza is a freelance writer who covers health, family travel, and the hospitality industry.
She writes from her Virginia home surrounded by her husband of 20 years and their two teens, three cats,
and a bearded dragon named Craig.
See More of her work HERE