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Need some nature? Tour several local gardens for free

Need some nature? Tour several local gardens for free

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Given all the craziness of 2020 so far, now may be a great time to take a relaxing walk in a garden.

There are three local gardens you can visit for free within a short drive of Goochland Courthouse. Each of the three gardens — managed and maintained by the Goochland Powhatan Master Gardener Association — is a demonstration and teaching garden set up to educate home gardeners about different types of plants that are typically appropriate for and successful in Central Virginia gardens.

Native Plant Trail

This garden is in Fighting Creek Park at 2200 Mann Rd, Powhatan, 23139.   It follows the 1/4 mile loop trail behind the Powhatan County Library.  Plants are identified with signs. What are Native Plants? Native plants are species that have evolved in a particular region over an extended period of time. Factors that govern their success or demise include: climate, soil, geographical and topographical characteristics of the area, as well as interactions with other species in that same area.

Typically, native plants are more disease resistant, drought resistant, and pest resistant than non-native plants. Many are even deer resistant, which is clearly a bonus in a Goochland garden. The goal of the Native Plant Trail is to allow home gardeners to learn about native plants here in Central Virginia so they can identify and appreciate them in their home landscape. Because the Native Trail winds through the woods, many of the plants can serve as ideas and inspiration for a shady home landscape.

As with any garden, some of the plants are only visible during certain seasons, especially spring. So if you don’t see one of these “ephemerals”, come back in another season. A printable list of plants on the trail, a trail map, and a full printable brochure is available at

The Pollinator Garden

This garden is also located in Fighting Creek Park in Powhatan across from the sports fields and the playground. The garden is planted with butterfly-attracting perennials as well as basic shrubs that provide food and shelter for pollinators during all four seasons of the year. The goal of the garden is to demonstrate to home gardeners a selection of pollinator friendly plants that can succeed in Central Virginia and could be used in their own home gardens. Planting even one or two pollinator friendly plants a year in your home garden is a simple way to help support our pollinator populations.

The Historic Garden

The Historic Garden was a joint effort between the Goochland Powhatan Master Gardeners and the Powhatan Historical Society and was dedicated in June 2006 as a legacy project for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. The garden is a small ‘pocket garden’ located behind the Old Jail building – now the home of the Powhatan Historical Society. It can be accessed from Main Street by a short walk to the rear of Courthouse Square.

The Historic Garden has a formal style appropriate to the Colonial period with raised beds to separate the various types of plants. The planting beds are divided into functional areas and filled with plants grown in gardens in Powhatan during the time period 1777 to 1830. The garden planting includes a variety of historical plants. There are vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, and a bed called “grandmother’s garden” with flowers that would have been planted for ornament. A map and brief history of the garden is located in the pocket hanging on the fence post by the bench.

All three gardens are open and accessible seven days a week. The two gardens located within Fighting Creek Park are available during park hours which are currently 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Cathy McCarthy is a certified Master Gardener through the Virginia Cooperative Extension and a member of the Goochland Powhatan Master Gardener Association. If you are interested in learning more about GPMGA programs or how to become a master gardener volunteer please visit


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