If you’ve ever read the book, “The Secret Garden,” you’ll understand what I mean when I say the Wildflower Garden in Roanoke, VA is a like a magical secret garden. Just wandering through this area of Mill Mountain is like meandering into some special hidden place where you leave the world behind and nothing can harm you. And by the way, they actually have a Fairy Garden, so it’s not just me who thinks this!
This little hidden gem in Roanoke was made possible thanks to the hard work of the Mill Mountain Garden Club. Back in 1971, the City of Roanoke invited the Mill Mountain Garden Club to plan a wildflower garden on top of Mill Mountain. With two and a half acres to play with, the garden club got busy and the result is truly stunning.
Today, this area contains ten special areas of interest, including the aforementioned Fairy Garden, as well as an outdoor classroom (how cool is that!), a pond, a pollinator garden for our friends the bees, and an amazing White Oak tree with burl and more.
How To Get To The Wildflower Garden at Mill Mountain
If you're coming from Smith Mountain Lake, or one of our surrounding rentals, you’ll travel for about an hour northeast to reach Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden. Your GPS will easily get you there if you type in either the name or the official address of 210 Reserve Avenue SW.
Once there, your first stop could be the Discovery Center, which is open from Thursday through Saturday, 10AM to 4PM and on Sunday from noon to 4PM. Pay attention to the posted trail conditions sign so you know what to expect as far as fire danger.
This garden is absolutely pristine, so be sure to follow the examples of others and avoid littering. There are plenty of trash receptacles along the paths to help you out with that. Note that dogs on leases are welcome, but be sure to clean up after any little droppings.
The paths are fairly smooth and the entire garden is well laid out. It’s wheelchair accessible and stroller-friendly, too! This is a nice place to bring young children as long as you have the stroller for when their short legs tire of walking the winding paths.
Our Trip Inside the Garden
As mentioned, there are ten points of interest, but you’ll no doubt find your own favorite spot to just sit and think or take in the beauty surrounding you. Depending upon when you visit, the landscape could be sparse or full of blossoms, but there is a lot to appreciate year-round.
You’ll find beautiful waterfalls, babbling pools of water and plenty of places to sit, either on benches or on rock walls and natural formations. Ferns, trees and shrubbery are everywhere, which will calm and soothe your spirit as you walk the well-maintained trails through the garden.
There are numerous vistas overlooking the mountains in the distance, as well as plenty of photo ops in the gardens. But I can tell you from experience, it’s often better to put the phone away and just take mental pictures so you get the full immersive experience.
This garden is popular as a venue for weddings and other celebrations, so don’t be surprised if you encounter a group having a picnic, birthday party or other events. It’s all allowed by the Mill Mountain Garden Club, although prior permission should be obtained.
Another thing to mention is that the garden leads to the Mill Mountain Zoo, which is at the opposite end of the garden from the entrance. The zoo is a modest one, but it might be fun for your kids to experience the nature of flowers and then move on to experiencing the nature of animals at the zoo.
Types of Flowers
The Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden has received numerous awards, for good reason. There are many local species of flowers, trees and shrubs and you won’t be disappointed. If you arrive here in the summer, many of the wildflowers will be in full bloom, attracting a variety of butterflies.
You’ll see daisies, bee balm, Canada lily, Eastern Redbud, Azalea, wild Geranium, Black-eyed Susans, Butterfly weed and more. Come to think of it, this is a fantastic place to visit with your botany book, so you can learn how to identify the native flowers of Virginia.
Tours & Admission
At the Discovery Center there is a donation box where you can leave something in appreciation for all the hard work by landscapers, volunteers and garden club members. Even if the Discovery Center happens to be closed when you arrive, you’re still free to meander through the garden, though.
There are no official guided tours of the Wildflower Garden, although, if you drop into the Discovery Center, there are plaques and a variety of other information about the garden and about the Mill Mountain Garden Club.
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