Green Spring Gardens packs a lot into its 31 acres—demonstration gardens, horticulture center and library, ponds, paths, and a Historic House built in 1780. Like Vienna’s Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, it’s a hidden oasis of beauty and inspiration in the midst of busy Fairfax County.
Green Springs Horticulture Center
Before you start exploring the gardens and the historic house, you should definitely stop in the Horticulture Center and pick up a map. Inside you’ll find an extensive horticultural library, a shop, art exhibits, and information on upcoming programs. We found a warm scarf on sale and bought some gardening tools and pretty fern-painted coasters.
Exploring the Flora at Green Spring Gardens
The gardens at Green Spring are grouped by theme, and many illustrate how the plantings could be recreated by the home gardener. It’s a wonderful mix of inspiration and practical advice that makes this garden a favorite.
A rock garden greets visitors outside the horticulture center. Around the back, you’ll find cute children’s and family gardens where kids can play while they learn about nature.
Townhouse gardens showcase distinct approaches to planting in small spaces. Down the path, you can peek through the fence at the vegetable garden and admire the pumpkins, peppers, and other delicious veggies growing there.
If you’re up for a bit of exploring, follow the dirt path into the woods featuring native plants and trees. The path leads to two small ornamental ponds where you can relax on a bench or at the gazebo. Continue past the ponds and up the hill, stopping to admire the historic springhouse cottage.
Continue up the hill to the historic house, but before you go inside take some time to explore the gardens and woods in the back. You’ll find beautiful Sycamores and pines overlooking the ponds. Closer to the house are lush mixed borders and a trellised rose garden.
When you return to the horticulture center, you’ll pass lovely shade gardens and another gazebo, popular with wedding photographers.
The Green Spring Manor House
If possible, time your Green Spring Gardens visit when the Manor House is open. (During our weekday visit, the Manor House opened at 11:00.) Inside, you can explore the downstairs rooms of the house and visit the shop and tea room. The interior was refurbished after the house had fallen into disrepair, but much of the interior details were created to mimic the house’s original time period. We were impressed with the beautifully dovetailed, paneled doorways.
The house changed hands many times over the years, and from 1878 to 1917, was the home of Fountain Beattie, a former Civil War lieutenant who rode with the raider, Captain John Singleton Mosby. Fountain and his wife, Anne, lived in the house with their twelve children, six boys and six girls. A fascinating and detailed description of the house’s occupants and modifications over the years is at NoVAhistory.org.
The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts programs with full English tea throughout the year at the historic house, but they fill up early. You can also schedule private teas and tasting parties at the Manor House for special occasions.
We saw many people briskly strolling the paved paths at Green Spring Gardens for a little exercise amid the beauty. We explored in a more lazy, slow-paced way to fully enjoy this Fairfax County oasis.
Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road
Alexandria, VA 22312
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