Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Contact Address 6700 Azalea Garden Road
Norfolk, VA   23518
(757) 441-5830
Hours of Operation

9:00 am – 7:00 pm: April – October 15
9:00 am – 5:00 pm: October 16 – March

We are CLOSED on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Phone (757) 441-5830

About the Garden
The idea for what would eventually become Norfolk Botanical Garden came from Thomas P. Thompson, Norfolk City Manager 1935-1938 ,and Frederic Heutte, a young horticulturalist. Heutte had a fondness for azaleas and thought Hampton Roads had a climate uniquely suited for growing the plants. Thompson and Heutte believed that Norfolk could support an azalea garden to rival those of Charleston, S.C., which even during the depression years drew thousands of tourists annually.

The city of Norfolk provided Thompson and Heutte with a seventy-five acre section of high, wooded ground and another seventy-five acres of the Little Creek Reservoir to establish a city garden. Today, Norfolk Botanical Garden includes 155-acres, with over 40 theme gardens that can be viewed by tram, boat or by foot.

Theme gardens include the Bristow Butterfly Garden, the Sarah Lee Baker Perennial Garden, the Virginia Native Plant Garden and the Bicentennial Rose Garden. Each of these gardens allows guests to see a variety of plants – from the cultivated to the wild.
Norfolk Botanical Garden provides an educational experience while entertaining visitors of all ages.

From its humble beginnings as a WPA project to its status as a nationally recognized garden that attracts visitors from around the world, Norfolk Botanical Garden has experienced amazing growth.

About the Camellia Collection
Number of Camellia Plants: 1,700
Number of Disctinct Cultivars/Species: 1,100

Norfolk Botanical Garden has more than 1,700 camellia plants in the collection. There are more than 1,100 different types of camellias in the Garden – one of the largest collections of Camellias in the Southeastern U.S. Visitors will find camellias throughout the Garden, but the majority of the collection can be found in two places – Mirror Lake and the Hofheimer Camellia Garden.

Approximately 750 of those plants are found in the Hofheimer Camellia Garden, established in 1992 as a joint project of the Norfolk Botanical Garden and the Virginia Camellia Society. It is named in memory of Alan J. and Aline F. Hofheimer, founding members of the Virginia Camellia Society.

This garden includes 500 different types of Camellia japonica, 40 different types of Camellia sasanqua and more than 180 other species and hybrids. Commercially important plants include the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), the source of green and black tea, and the tea oil plant (Camellia oliefera), from which oil is extracted and used for cooking, cosmetics, medicine and industrial purposes.

Camellia japonica, Camellia sasanqua and Camellia reticulata are prominent ornamental species used in the landscape. The majority of garden camellias are cultivars and hybrids developed from these plants. amellia cultivars must be propagated through grafting, cuttings or layering. Hybrids are crosses between two species, two cultivars, two other hybrids or a combination of these to create a new plant with its own unique traits.

Other species have unique traits that make them interesting plants as well as potential source material for hybrids: Camellia lutchuensisis the most fragrant camellia, Camellia cuspidata has unusually narrow foliage, Camellia brevistyla has unusual bark, Camellia saluenensis also has unusual foliage, prolific blooms and crosses very easily with other species. The large flowering but tender Camellia granthamiana was first imported into the U.S. by Norfolk Botanical Garden’s Fred Heutte.

Camellia x hiemalis and Camellia x vernalis hybrids
These two groups are very old hybrids thought to be developed in Japan and China . They are probably crosses between Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua. The hybrids tend to flower slightly later than Camellia sasanqua varieties and several are spreading or prostrate growers.

Camellia x williamsii hybrids
The williamsii hybrid group originates from the cross of Camellia saluenensis and Camellia japonica produced by J C Williams in the early 1930s. With their smaller tougher leaves, they are remarkably hardy and produce an abundance of flowers that tend to drop neatly as soon as they finish blooming.

Ackerman hybrids
This group of cold hardy hybrids was developed by Dr. William Ackerman at the National Arboretum. He crossed Camellia oliefera with other species and hybrids, including Camellia sasanqua, Camellia japonica, Camellia x hiemalis and Camellia x williamsii. Many of the Ackerman hybrids can be found in a planting bed near the entrance of the Hofheimer Camellia Garden.

In 1997, the Garden’s camellia collection was named an Official North American Collection by the American Public Gardens Association’s North American Plant Collection Consortium (NAPCC). The Garden is one of only two NAPCC collections focusing on camellias. In 2001, the Camellia collection received the Garden of Excellence Award from the International Camellia Society.