Top 6 Spots to ‘Spot’ Wildflowers in Virginia

Courtesy of Claytor Nature Center

By Aila Boyd

May 5, 2023

Spring has sprung in Virginia—and so have the beautiful blooms!

Spring has arrived in Virginia. With it comes the usual warm weather and vibrant spring blooms. 

While the time that wildflowers bloom depends on the type they are and the weather, April and May are without a doubt prime wildflower season. To spot some of the commonwealth’s most breathtaking wildflowers, check out these six spots.

Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden

Top 6 Spots to 'Spot' Wildflowers in Virginia
Courtesy of Mill Mountain Garden Club

Location: Roanoke

When you visit the Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden, which is perched atop Mill Mountain, you get to take in thousands of blooms, as well as views of Roanoke down below. 

The garden received a facelift two years ago when the Mill Mountain Garden Club, which manages the 2.5-acre garden, spent more than $200,000 to restore it.

“Numerous new stone benches, a charming fairy garden, and star stump jump have been installed,” the club said about the restoration. “Breathtaking new vistas have been unveiled with the removal of invasives, which had blocked these mountaintop views. New colorful interpretive signs set the stage for important conservation and horticultural education. Increasing the beauty of the garden, hundreds of native plants, shrubs, and trees have been added to the existing landscape.”

While you’re on Mill Mountain, be sure to also visit the 88.5-foot, 10,000-pound Roanoke Star, which is a “regional icon and popular tourist attraction.” 

Bull Run Bluebell Trail

Location: Centerville 

The Bull Run Bluebell Trail is a 1.5-mile loop that explores the forest around Bull Run. The trail features over 25 varieties of wildflowers that bloom in spring. NOVA Parks noted that mid-April is the ideal time to visit the trail.

“In the course of a season, many common wildflowers of the eastern deciduous forest can be found along the trail,” the parks said. “The stars of the show, though, are the Virginia Bluebells and Spring Beauty that bloom in April.”

Some of the wildflowers you can expect to see on the trail include white spring beauty, cutleaf toothwort, trout lily, mayapple, and wild ginger. Redbuds and dogwoods are also in bloom this spring.

Claytor Nature Center

Top 6 Spots to 'Spot' Wildflowers in Virginia
Courtesy of Claytor Nature Center

Location: Bedford

Visit Claytor Nature Center to see “gorgeous wildflowers and gardens surrounded by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” according to Lynchburg’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism.

The center, which is operated by the University of Lynchburg, encompasses freshwater streams, woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, rare plants, wildlife, a hiking trail system, and a portion of the Big Otter River. 

Look for Virginia bluebells and fire pinks along the trails in April. Skunk cabbage flowers can be found on Cloverlea Lane, which leads up to the Cloverlea Farmhouse and Memorial Gardens.

The center is open to the public.

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve

Top 6 Spots to 'Spot' Wildflowers in Virginia
Courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority

Location: Fairfax

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is the place to go if you like hiking and wildflowers. The preserve, which is part of the Potomac Gorge, is one of the rarest biological ecosystems in the mid-Atlanti” due to its floodplains, rocky cliffs, and narrow valleys. It’s also home to a number of unusual plants. 

“Visitors have flocked to Scott’s Run for years to witness the spring wildflowers that carpet the forest floor,” according to the Fairfax County Park Authority. “Trailing arbutus, Virginia bluebells and sessile trillium bloom on steep hillsides and create a small oasis of rare, fragile plants. Remarkable and rare species grow along precipitous cliffs, in steep valleys, and throughout a mature, hardwood forest that is comprised of large oak and beech trees, ancient hemlock, and wild cherry trees that stand as tall as the oaks.” 

While some of the trails are quite challenging and go up steep hills and cliffs, there are gentle trails for those who aren’t that fond of hiking. 

New River Trail State Park

Location: Fries

Although the town of Fries may be small, it takes its wildflowers quite seriously. The ideal time to spot spring wildflowers in the town is late March through May, when it experiences a “constantly changing array of blooms sparkling on the forest floor,” according to the town’s website.

A good place to view the flowers is between Dixon Ferry Bridge and Double Shoals at New River Trail State Park. The town advised that the best time to spot flowers is in the morning, before the trail gets shady. 

Some of the wildflowers blooming in Fries this spring include michaux’s saxifrage, squaw root, trillium, wild columbine, fringed polygala, and Dutchman’s breeches.

After you’ve worked up an appetite from walking, you can sample the local flavor at New River Side Store and Deli for lunch. We suggest trying the fried fish with a side of coleslaw, hushpuppies, and French fries. 

Norfolk Botanical Garden

Top 6 Spots to 'Spot' Wildflowers in Virginia
Courtesy of Norfolk Botanical Garden 

Location: Norfolk

While the Norfolk Botanical Garden has 60 separate gardens, the Four Seasons Garden and Wildflower Meadow is the one to visit this spring. It features a mixture of more than 50 species of wildflowers and 10 species of grasses. 

“The flowers and grasses present a constantly changing vista of natural beauty for those who stroll along its pathways or relax near the flowing fountain in the shade of the gazebo,” the Norfolk Botanical Garden said of the garden and meadow. 

Be on the lookout for five spot, poppies, and bachelor’s button this spring.

  • Aila Boyd

    Aila Boyd is a Virginia-based educator and journalist. She received her MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.

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