From the beginning
The Garden’s story began in the late 1930s. Through a Works Progress Administration grant, 220 African-American WPA workers cleared swampland and planted the first azaleas – the Garden’s signature flower. Today, the Garden has many plant collections and is a wonderful place for families, nature enthusiasts and environmental stewards. With 175 acres, there is a lot to explore! In the 1960s, NATO Tower, the Administration Building and the Café were constructed. The next phase of major construction wouldn’t happen until the 1990s with the addition of Baker Hall Visitor Center, and in 2006, the creation of the World of Wonders (WOW) Children’s Garden. This 3-acre garden with multiple splash pads, passport garden and indoor classrooms, dramatically increased visitation. In 2016, after the debut of LanternAsia – International Cultural Festival, our visitation took another leap, and has continued to expand dramatically since the early 2000s! The growth in visitation has nearly tripled since the early 2000s! Membership is also at an all time high at 16,000 and growing!
Our mission to connect people to nature through the world of plants has never been more prescient as we address the environmental crisis we all face. That passion for plants and nature is shared by many of you and we hope, the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come here each year.
The Garden of Tomorrow will take us to the next level – connecting even more people to nature, providing an intimate and immersive Garden experience, as well as expand our conservation efforts. It’s the next level that we need to take now!
Tomorrow begins today.
THIS VISION IS BOLDLY MADE UP OF THE FOLLOWING PRIORITIES:
Guests will enjoy a more enjoyable admission experience. Instead of getting bottlenecked at a tollbooth, Visitors will leisurely drive into the new expanded Parking Garden, replacing our current asphalt-and-concrete lot beside Baker Hall, setting the standard for sustainability through innovative new features including pervious pavement, which will filter rainwater and nourish the garden. The Parking Garden will greet guests with flowers and shade trees, surrounding a water collection pond. The minute you step out of your vehicle, you instantly step into the garden experience.
Guests will proceed to the admissions area inside the pavilion. The pavilion will have a new contemporary architectural design with glass walls to bring the outdoors inside. It will feature a new ticket counter where staff will have the opportunity to interact with multiple people simultaneously, offering a warm welcome, answering questions and promoting NBG membership.
Explore the stunning biodiversity of four separate biomes housed in the new state-of-the-art Conservatory, where a tropical rainforest meets the deserts of Arizona. The 30,000+ sq. feet will focus on conservation, which will include some of the most threatened species in the world. This unique space will also be available as a rental space for events.
The second-story indoor and outdoor elevated skywalk provides aerial views of the tropical rainforest biome, leading outdoors to a viewing platform overlooking the largest rose garden on the East Coast.
This architecturally stunning structure will sit along the waterfront near the entrance to the Garden, serving as both a state-of-the-art educational venue and a regional hub for regattas. The Center will make a meaningful impact on the environment through practicing and promoting conservation. We will reach more schoolchildren, increase support for local rowing programs and introduce the next generation to Norfolk Botanical Garden.
BROCK ENTRY PAVILION & PARKING GARDEN
Guests will proceed to the admissions area inside the pavilion. The pavilion will have a new contemporary architectural design with transparent walls to bring the outdoors inside. It will feature a new ticket counter where staff will have the opportunity to interact with multiple people simultaneously – offering a warm welcome, answering questions and promoting NBG membership.
Hall WATER EDUCATION & ROWING CENTER:
BE A PART OF THE GARDEN OF TOMORROW, Today.
Contact Cathy Fitzgerald, COO and VP of Philanthropy at 757-441-5830 ext 319