Virginia State Parks

Founders and advocates for Virginia State Parks

Since our founding, our members have championed and supported Virginia State Parks. Our clubs work together to protect native plants and trees, develop educational programming, and help visitors enjoy the benefits of the outdoors.

In 1929 — the same year Historic Garden Week launched — garden club members lobbied the Virginia General Assembly to establish state parks. 

The land that was to be set aside for public enjoyment of nature was representative of the best of the natural world throughout the various geographical regions of Virginia. The efforts were successful, but it wasn’t until 1936 that the state park system was formally instituted. The first state parks were: Douthat, Fairy Stone, Hungry Mother, Seashore (now called First Landing), Staunton River, and Westmoreland. The Virginia State Park system today boasts 39 parks from the Tidewater through the Piedmont, through the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Valley and to the mountains and Appalachian Plateau of western Virginia.

2020 Centennial Project

To celebrate the Garden Club of Virginia’s 2020 Centennial, leaders seized upon a project that linked the past to the present. 

The Centennial Project was a partnership between the Garden Club of Virginia and Virginia State Parks. With a gift of $500,000 to the state park system, the Garden Club of Virginia rekindled a passion for parks begun by the club’s predecessors. The undertaking gave statewide visibility to GCV and united the member clubs, who worked together to enhance parks in many areas of the commonwealth.

The list of projects resulting from this initiative embodies the shared values of the Garden Club of Virginia and Virginia State Parks. The projects included constructing native plant and pollinator gardens, improving displays in visitors’ centers, new educational programming and equipment, updating drinking water stations (for people and pets), making trail improvements, and creating children’s discovery areas.

In September 2019, the Garden Club of Virginia was awarded the President’s Award for a Statewide Organization from the National Association of State Parks Directors for its work over 83 years with the state park system.

Completed Projects

25 clubs have partnered with 29 VA state parks and the Youth Conservation Corps to secure funding through our 2020 Centennial Project

2020 TOTAL $100,000

Bear Creek – Erosion control and improvements for access and safety The Boxwood Garden Club, Three Chopt Garden Club and The Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton
Belle Isle – Amphitheater and landscaping updates The Garden Club of the Northern Neck
Chippokes – Classroom renovations
Douthat – Native plant landscaping
Hungry Mother – Discovery Center display area
James River -Native pant landscaping Rivanna Garden Club
Kiptopeke – Visitor Center educational space The Garden Club of the Eastern Shore
Natural Bridge – Base Camp and Dark Sky equipment The Blue Ridge Garden Club
Natural Tunnel – Visitor Center interpretive theme displays
New River Trail – Foster Falls Depot Museum exhibits
Pocahontas – CCC cabin stabilization project
Sailors Creek Historic Battlefield – Pollinator garden
Seven Bends – Natural play area and outdoor classroom
Widewater – Native plant landscaping and beautification The Rappahannock Valley Garden Club       
York River – Pollinator meadow The Hampton Roads Garden Club, The Huntington Garden Club and The Williamsburg Garden Club
Youth Conservation Corps – Supplies

2019 TOTAL $101,091

Bear Creek – Pollinator meadow and landscaping
Belle Isle – Phase 3 Belle Isle Manor and Bel Air House landscaping Garden Club of the Northern Neck
Chippokes Plantation – Visitor Center Exhibit Updates
Claytor Lake – Native Landscaping
Douthat – Dark Sky Park
Natural Bridge – Visitor Center Base Camp Exhibits Blue Ridge Garden Club
Pocahontas – Civilian Conservation Corps Work Cabin Week
Shenandoah River – Visitor Center Landscaping The Garden Club of Warren County
Sky Meadows – Phase 3 Trail System Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club
Staunton River Battlefield – Mulberry Hill landscaping
York River – Landscaping and turtle habitat The Hampton Roads Garden Club, The Huntington Garden Club and The Williamsburg Garden Club
Youth Conservation Corps – Supplies

2018 TOTAL $114,145

Belle Isle – phase two of improvements to the landscape at the Belle Isle mansion and enhancing learning panels in Visitor’s Center The Garden Club of the Northern Neck
Caledon – drinking fountain The Rappahannock Valley Garden Club
Holliday Lake – underwater lighting Hillside Garden Club and The Lynchburg Garden Club
Hungry Mother – Children’s Discovery area
James River – native plant and pollinator garden Rivanna Garden Club
Lake Anna – native plant landscaping around new cabins The Rappahannock Valley Garden Club
Natural Bridge – continued improvements to Interactive Classroom The Blue Ridge Garden Club
Pocahontas – shoreline restoration The James River Garden Club
Shenandoah River – Pollinator Meadow with bee habitat The Garden Club of Warren County
Sky Meadows – Children’s Discovery Area and trails Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club
Westmoreland – creating a Discovery center in the former Visitor’s Center The Garden Club of the Northern Neck
York River – landscaping improvements in three gardens The Hampton Roads Garden Club, The Huntington Garden Club and The Williamsburg Garden Club
Youth Conservation Corps – to help with purchase of materials 

2017 TOTAL $129,417

Belle Isle – Improving landscaping around historic Belle Isle mansion The Garden Club of the Northern Neck
Fairy Stone – Pollinator waystation The Martinsville Garden Club, The Garden Study Club, The Garden Club of Danville
Leesylvania – Wildflower planting, reducing invasives and eliminating mowing
Mason Neck – New Visitor Center entry; hardscaping and landscaping of pollinator garden The Hunting Creek Garden Club, The Garden Club of Fairfax, The Garden Club of Alexandria​​
Middle Peninsula – Supplies for educational programming​ The Garden Club of Gloucester
Natural Bridge – Outfitting a classroom for educational programming in Visitor Center
Pocahontas – Converting a Heritage Center to a Discovery Center
Sky Meadows – Track Trails and Discovery area Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club
Smith Mountain Lake – Supplies for educational programming in wet lab The Roanoke Valley Garden Club, Mill Mountain Garden Club
Staunton River – beautification of grounds surrounding Civilian Conservation Corps guest cabins, The Garden Club of Danville
Youth Conservation Corps – Supplies for residential summer program in 17 parks 

2016 TOTAL $20,000

Mason Neck – Visitor’s Center improvements