Thursday, April 28, 2016

Historic Garden Week 2016 in Petersburg, Virginia

 Petersburg 1838 Courthouse Clock Tower & Roses
This year as part of Historic Garden Week in Virginia, we selected Petersburg as our annual tour destination. I wanted to spend some time in the amazing Old Towne area and get a closer look of what could be described as a congenial southern historic town. 
YUMMY Sweets provided by The Petersburg Garden Club

I'm always impressed with the effort extended by the host Garden Club and Petersburg did not disappoint. The Petersburg Garden Club members at each stop were so welcoming and personable. We absolutely fell in LOVE with the house on the hill, Centre Hill, as the museum staff was superb. We can certainly understand why movie crews rush to Petersburg to set up camp to film.

All interior photos of Floral Arrangements were graciously provided by Molly Sammler, Petersburg Garden Club photographer for Historic Garden Week. 

Stone accents at the Kramer House on the Lake
Driving 2 hours from Charlottesville, we began our tour by visiting three homes located on the lake in Chesterfield Virginia. These relatively new large homes all offered lovely views of Lake Chesdin. We especially liked what we referred to as the pink and green house (my favorite color combination). Upon entry into the Kramer House, one looks beyond the open entryway through huge windows straight onto the lake. A light and airy home decorated by owner and designer Glenna Jean who makes beautiful bedding, pillows and accessories.

Rose Arrangement at Centre Hill by Molly
We were so touched by the history of her mother who died at 105 years of age. Being that her favorite flower was the rose, there were many small items in the home that she had beautifully painted. She also was a blue ribbon cookie maker and her winning Sugar Cookie recipe was handed out to every visitor. Several rooms were decorated in a garden theme featuring walls perfectly painted by an artist that had Alzheimer's. We very much loved getting to know this home on a more personal level and relaxing lake side on the multi-leveled deck chatting with garden club members.

Meeting a few furry friends @ Strachan-Harrison
Next we headed to Old Towne to race through Petersburg to get to the next set of three homes on tour. After a break at Demolition Coffee (a really cool shop in of course an amazing historic building) we were off to the Strachan-Harrison House. A boxwood garden complete with majestic trees surrounds the front entry. Inside there are beautiful period portraits. The owners have gone to great lengths to make the interior represent the homes age dated in the late 1700's. There was also a barn outside with a sweet Donkey that protects the dear Lambs from predators.

Massive Kramer H. Peacock Arrangm.
Next we were off to Centre Hill. I really do enjoy an element of surprise when I plan a tour and don't like to know too much about a property before I visit. We were walking around what appeared to be an amazing Civil War period mansion, lolly gagging along taking pictures of the roses at neighboring homes, who, by the way, have a great view off all that goes on at Centre Hill, when we read a little sign outside of the building that said for us to please forgive the length of the grass as the PBS series, Mercy Street, wants it that way! 

Centre Hill Mansion
I thought Mercy Street was filmed in Alexandria Virginia. Mercy Street is actually filmed in Richmond and Petersburg and in the series, it was chosen to list as being portrayed in the town of Alexandria Virginia. Centre Hill Mansion is the central family's home in the series. Centre Hill has been used by many movies and is a known for paranormal activity. Do not miss this beautiful mansion when you go to Petersburg.

Iris in Ginger Jar @ Strachan by Molly
At the end of our tour we dashed through - oh I wish we had more time - the historic McIlwaine House which was featured in the film, Lincoln. Amazingly, this 3-story shell of a building was moved from its original location 8 blocks away. The original ornate hand carved interior woodwork was missing but eventually found in storage and restored back on the walls. This ca. 1794 high-style federal building is now in fine condition complete with beautiful period pieces supplied by the current owner who has done an amazing job restoring this structure back to it's original condition.

Marie Bowen Gardens in Walnut Hill
Our last stop was to the natural gardens named after the Raleigh Parish Garden Club member, Marie Bowen who spent, up until her death in 1979, countless hours tending and planting the Fairfax side of a ravine. A sweet and tranquil garden that can freely be visited from dusk to dawn. It was the perfect end to a beautiful day in Petersburg, a nice mix of the new and old. 

Goodies provided: Laptop Case, Recipe, Seeds, Magazine
A nice briefcase bag was given to each participant, which now holds my laptop, along with a packet of Forget Me Not seeds. I last planted this dear plant many years ago on the grave of my dear Schnauzer, Tator. If I can get it to grow, it will be a sweet reminder of my trip to Petersburg and my pooch.

Little meditative spot at 
After hitting several Thrift Stores (another reason to visit Petersburg) and buying 2 cute purses for $2.50, we headed to Cary Street in Richmond for dinner. Home at 11 pm - pooped. My only wish was that we had another day to really delve into the history in Petersburg but I can't wait to return!

-Rebecca   
  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Grand View Nursery, a Charlottesville Hidden Gem

Yesterday I decided to take my dead lawn mower battery to the annual Hazardous Waste drop off at the Ivy Material Utilization Center, along with my household trash. I recycle practically everything we consume so I make a trek across the mountain three times a year to drop off trash for $2.50 a bag (this is in lieu of paying for monthly curbside pickup). I always look forward to driving past Grand View Nursery located at 648 Dry Bridge Road. I typically link to a business page to provide more details but this nursery is so popular it doesn't even need advertising and there is no online listing.

Tucked off the beaten path on top of Gilliams Mountain is a gardeners paradise. You won't have access to all the landscaped property which has been purchased over the years by the owners of Grand View Nursery but you can drive by in the Spring and see the thousands of Daffodils, Azalea, and Rhododendron. Stop by the nursery and be blown away by the diverse selection of annuals and perennials that are propagated each Spring. They also have slow growing Confer's, Azalea, and Rhododendron for sale. The nursery is only open for a short period in the Spring and on select days, so call before you head up. The plants sell out quickly due to the popularity of this hidden gem.

There is a lovely area across the street from the nursery that is gated and if you are lucky to find the gates open, you can stroll through the stream and perennial beds. Blooming this time of year are unusual varieties of tulips and daffodils artfully arranged with other Spring bulbs cascading over banks and streams. Soapstone boulders have been crafted into art throughout the landscape.

I was fortunate to walk through the other gated areas of the property during Historic Garden Week in 2010. Located on approximately 50 acres (property has been added gradually over the years), Grand View sits on top of the mountain with majestic views among massive trees dotted with an enormous collection of Azalea and Rhododendron. When the property was originally purchased, four hundred Rhododendron were obtained from a nursery in Germany. Many other pocket gardens were designed, mainly with an oriental flair.

Looking for a weekend drive? This is it! Don't miss the beautiful Spring show and visit the nursery if you are looking for unique plants.

Please be mindful that this is a private residence as well as Nursery so if gates are closed, there is no access to these areas but you can still catch quite a show just driving by!


-Rebecca

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Historic Garden Week in Virginia 2016 Biggest Tour of the Year

Flower Arrangement Richmond Tour 
If you love Spring as I do, then you won't want to miss the biggest tour of the year, Historic Garden Week in Virginia. Beginning April 23 select communities throughout the state host home and garden tours sponsored by local Garden Clubs. Each year I get my grubby gardening gloves on the 250 page guidebook that explains in detail every tour site. You can pick up a catalog in local specialty shops and libraries or you can read the guidebook online. Proceeds from the tours help preserve historic gardens in Virginia.

Beautiful Flowers during prior Tour
Each year I blog about my favorite tour sites listed in the catalog. The following communities made my list mainly because of their emphasis on gardens. Some localities focus more on home interiors. Last year we visited Richmond and it was outstanding and over the years we have visited Ashland, Charlottesville, Lexington, Staunton, and Richmond (twice).

Note: Some tour tickets can be purchased in advance for a $5.00 discount.

Ashland Tour 2012
4/23, Saturday, 10-5, $35.00 - Staunton is pulling out all the stops with 8 properties open on tour day. They also have guest speakers and performances throughout the day. When we toured Staunton several years ago I was totally blown away by the floral arrangements created by the Augusta Garden Club. On tour this year are expansive gardens with over 1,000 Daffodils and Tulips, Azalea, Rhododendron, Peony, and Spring Shrubs. Featured are select Roses from the Garden Club of Virginia's Rose Collection. The Charles Gillette designed garden at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum is included on the tour. While you are in town, check out the ongoing efforts to replant Dogwood trees in the sprawling Gypsy Hill Park.

This Spring on Forsythia Hill in my garden.
4/23, Sat, 12-5, $45.00 - Winchester-Clarke features native plant and organic food production gardens featuring herbs and vegetables. Specialty gardens are also highlighted on this tour; Dahlia, Rose, more than 15,000 Daffodils, 10,000 Tulips, and 15,000 Grape Hyacinths. Clay Hill will be on the tour and has been featured in several notable publications and includes an Orchid conservatory, Italianate boxwood parterre garden, and perennial & vegetable gardens planted within stone walls built by Hessian soldiers. Don't miss the Black Walnut tree said to be one of the largest in Virginia. If you have time, visit our State Arboretum of Virginia.

Ashland Tour 2012
4/26, Tuesday, 10-5, $25.00 - Petersburg is steeped in history and is a fascinating place to visit even without Historic Gardening Week to lure you in. Centre Hill Mansion has been featured in several movies and is a restoration project of the Garden Club of Virginia. Several other amazing historic homes are featured on the tour as is a billiard room, wine cellar, carriage house, potting shed, barn, gazebo, and guest house. Art, history, and antiques abound along with terraced gardens, flowering trees, walking trails, and native plants. The Marie Bowen Garden is a 30 year restoration project taken on by the Raleigh Parish Garden Club, named after one member who spent countless hours propagating native plants for an overgrown expansive ravine located within the garden. You may want to make time for the first Bank Museum in Virginia, Farmers Bank, one of the few in the USA,

Monticello during Garden Week 2014
4/28, Thurs, 10-5, $40.00 - Norfolk features homes from the early 1900's. Well known Virginia architect, John K. Peebles designed one home that is featured. Interior styles vary from Italian to Asian. Gardens include a pesticide free garden with herbs and vegetables and a sustainable garden featuring many edible / pollinator friendly plants. The eight acre Weyanoke Bird and Wildflower Sanctuary is also on the tour. For more than 20 years, the St. Andrews Episcopal Church has hosted a Flower Festival and will showcase arrangements during the tour. If you have time, you might want to make a trip over to the Chrysler Museum of Art or the Moses Myers House (one of the many Garden Club of Virginia's renovated gardens).

Richmond Tour 2013
4/29, Fri, 10-4, $40.00 - Middle Peninsula will open 6 homes; a mix of historic and contemporary and new construction. A Virginia planters home from the 1840's, a Georgian style home that has discovered two cannon balls on the property, and one home from 1763 that has a slave cabin and log cabin on the property. One newer home has a waterfront view with gardens, pool and outdoor kitchen. The "Old Customs House" referred to as "Sandwich" is on the tour and is named after the Earl of Sandwich who of course invented the sandwich! You won't want to miss the home with custom crafted interior wood detailing located on the salt marsh and creek. Stroll winding woodland paths covered in over 15,000 bulbs through a bog garden surrounded by native plants and trees.

Prior Garden Week in Richmond 2015
4/30, Sat, 10-5, $35.00 - Blackstone & Nottoway County features homes ranging in age from 1800 - 1900 plus one new contemporary home. Garden details encompass a herb garden, Asian garden, Koi pond, cottage garden, heirloom plants, mature specimen trees, and over 100 Hostas. The Virginia Bluebird Society will host a garden presentation. One home features 500 martini glasses and a collection of Buddhist and Hindu statues. In town there is a carriage museum and The Nottoway County Courthouse has been described as one of the most beautiful of its style in Virginia. Trend is hosting a waffle tasting from 9 - 11 am.

Richmond headquarters for Garden Club of Virginia
4/30, Sat, 10-5, $30.00 - Lexington features 6 properties, many tied to the production of grapes. Rockbridge Vineyard is on the tour as is a nearby home with natural wood detailing, a shaded woodland garden, and a fruit and vegetable garden. One home that has been modified over the years since 1790, had Union forces camped on the farm prior to Hunter's raid on Lexington and now has "rocking chairs on the front porch over looking the countryside and grape vines". Another home on the tour features natural gardens with birdhouses, hand-hewn fencing, and an amphitheater near the creek. Art is a feature in several homes on this tour. A sweet Herbery is filled with hundreds of bulbs, spring ephemerals, herbs, and a greenhouse. Also tour a rustic treehouse and log-cabin smokehouse, barn, pool and pool house surrounded by garden walking trails leading to the creek.

Garden Week in Richmond 2015
This is just a small taste of beautiful homes and gardens in Virginia. I hope you will pick a location and explore. I'm still on the fence where to go this year but at least my list has been narrowed down!

-Rebecca

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