Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Historic Garden Week

Virginia's State Bird - The Cardinal 
The biggest week in the State of Virginia for Gardeners is this coming week, April 21 - 28 as this is the annual Historic Garden Week.  A state wide event sponsored by numerous Gardening Clubs that occurs in various municipalities.  Each locality opens primarily historic homes and gardens for tour on typically one day during the week.  I love reading through the 225 page booklet that can be found at coffee shops, book stores, libraries, etc (in host locals).  It contains details about each tour in 30 areas of the State.  These tours are annual fundraisers for historic garden preservation, COUNT ME IN!

I primarily perused details concerning road trips not more than 2 hours from Charlottesville.  It's a long day to drive 4 hours round trip and visit 4 - 8 homes!  My favorite selections were Staunton, Ashland, Fredericksburg, Winchester-Clarke, and Petersburg.  Last year we visited Staunton and it was outstanding.  It's hard to not go back once again, but we wanted to see a new town so Ashland (the center of the universe) it is. 

4/21, Sat, 10-5, $30.00 - Ashland is northwest of Richmond and a little over 1 hour drive, it sounds small and quaint.  Featured homes range in age from 1887 - 1974.  Garden details range from cottage gardens, chickens, large hardwoods, and a hidden garden room. 

4/21, Saturday, 10-5, $25.00 - Clarke County / Winchester features one of the oldest homes on the tour, built in 1753.  A pergola covered in Wisteria, Copper Beeches, and Stained Glass windows featured in three homes on the tour sound charming.  The State Arboretum is also in Clarke and I decided it was a temptation I could not resist will in the area so will plan to go up this Summer for a day long trek through the Bandy Experimental Station.

4/21, Saturday, 10-5, $25.00 Staunton is a wonderful historic town that also has one of the more vibrant restored Main Streets in Virginia.  You will want to plan on leaving time for a quick lunch downtown.  Architecture ranges from Queen Anne to Gothic Revival in this years featured historic Gospel Hill district.  During last years tour, the flower arrangements in homes blew me away and I assume the Augusta Garden Club members have been hard at work preparing for this special day.

4/24, Tuesday, 10-5, $30.00 - Fredericksburg has a wonderful historic downtown area that is not to be missed.  Large and expansive, much time could be spent here but you won't want to miss the Garden Day Tea hosted by the Rappanhannock Valley Garden Club (dressed up in colonial costumes).  There is also a free wine tasting, flower arranging demonstrations, and horticulture exhibit.  This tour is right up my alley as many of the homes have interesting accompanying gardens.  One home has a putting green below a pool.. cottage gardens and beloved plants collected from friends.  I love the sound of this tour!

4/26, Thursday, 10-5, $25.00 - The tour in Petersburg sounds outstanding but the drive is a little long so we opted for something closer. Petersburg is a wonderfully historic town dripping in old Southern charm. Sadly the historic district was nearly devoured by Hurricane Hugo but it survives and I highly recommend a trip to Historic Petersburg. The homes on the tour sound fascinating, Victorian-style, Italianate 19th Century, and a Mansion. Several homes have extensive renovation histories. This tour sounds more focused on homes than gardens but the homes sound wonderful.

4/21 - 4/24, Sat - Tues, 10-5, $40.00 - I can't leave out Charlottesville, Albemarle County.  The only 4 day tour in the State and the most expensive.  Homes are open Sunday AND Monday in Keswick (East of Cville in "Hunt Country").  Guaranteed breathtaking views and gargantuan homes.  One featured home was named Metropolitan Home's "House of the Year".  Expansive gardens (one home 25 acres), koi ponds, orchards, oak trees, and rose gardens.

4/24 - Tues - FREE - UVA - One of my favorite tours annually is the Academical Village on UVA Campus.  Tour through the extensive gardens located behind historic professors homes on the Lawn.  Giving a sneak peek at life back in Thomas Jefferson's day.  Across the street from the Rotunda is the Presidents home which is open this one day each year and don't miss meandering through the lovely attached gardens back down to the UVA Art Museum.

Whew - a lot to see and do.  ENJOY!


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