Thursday, March 26, 2015

Historic Garden Week in Virginia 2015

Ashland Tour 2012
In Spring I look forward to reading the Garden Club of Virginia's Historic Garden Week tour book. Details are also published online as well as in print. This year the tour is held April 18th - 25th and proceeds benefit the restoration of historic gardens in Virginia. The book is quite lengthy at 265 pages and features 31 different tour areas throughout our state. To get your grubby little gardening hands on "the book", the Garden Club has published a list of where to pick up a copy. Visit the Historic Garden Week Facebook page for a chance to win free tickets and up to the minute details about specific tour sites!

Richmond Tour 2013
Each year I publish my top picks for touring and I do focus on locations within 2 hours driving distance from my home in Charlottesville. I also lean toward tours that focus on gardens verses home interiors and those that are quaint neighborhood walking tours. The guide book has a coding system which points out these important features. 
Lexington Tour 2014
A little spot of tea or cookie break is often included on many of the tours as is the option to purchase a lunch. I recommend that you BYO snacks as there are plenty of opportunities to take a break in a lovely garden along the tour. Check out a local restaurant at the end of the tour day.

Monticello Tour 2014 the Tulips loved the rain!

Charlottesville will feature homes, gardens, and public grounds the 18th - 21st. Visit estates located on the West side of town boasting breathtaking mountain views. The UVA Pavilion Gardens will be open to the public on the 21st, located on the backside of The Lawn in the Academical Village. On the 20th, Monticello will be presenting their newest restoration project, the Kitchen Road (pre-register). I always take advantage of a free grounds snooping as it is seldom offered!

Flower arrangements abound, Ashland Tour 2012
In 2012 I toured Ashland and found it to be a charming town. One home on this year's tour, on the 18th, has "one of the largest Magnolia trees in Virginia". Several homes are located on large swaths of land, some prior plantations. Front Royal, on the 25th, stands out as the Eco Tour. One home diverts excess attic heat to the swimming pool heating system. A timber frame home and barn with geothermal heating are surrounded by the "colors and scents of 5,000 perennials" creating a native Botanical Garden. A historic church and Civil War Museum are also on the tour and many of the properties have connections to Civil War history.

Richmond Tour 2013
If you are interested in visiting plantations the James River tour, 19th - 21st, is full of fabulous estates featuring mansions built in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Leesburg tour, 19th - 20th, is steeped in history and coincides with the Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival (an added bonus). On the 18th, Orange County is opening Springfields which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The formal gardens sound impressive featuring over 500 David Austin rose shrubs and 300 hydrangeas! The Barboursville Vineyards will be open as are the interesting ruins that are a similar design to Monticello. Petersburg was nearly wiped off the map 25 years ago when Hurricane Hugo hit. I saw the aftermath and wondered if it was gone forever. On the 21st, you can go back and see that this town has mended and many of the gardens have new plantings. Centre Hill Mansion is noted as a film location for several historic films and even a ghost watch! One home has a water garden designed in the likeness of Monet's in Giverny, France.

Garden Club of Virginia Headquarters in Richmond
Richmond (the headquarters of the Garden Club of Virginia), is offering three different tours between the 22nd - 24th. The Hermitage Road area tour features homes from the early 1900's in many different styles; Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, and Queen Anne. The Executive Mansion will be open as well as the restored gardens that were funded with proceeds from Historic Garden Week. On day three, The Cary Street tour is mainly a walking tour in this vibrant district. Acres and acres of park like gardens are open as are several other gardens designed by famed Charles Gillette.

Richmond Tour 2013
In Richmond, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Sculpture Garden will be open all three days (free) with a special exhibition of Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse, The Art of the Flower (additional fee). The Tuckahoe Plantation gardens will be open all three days and will offer plants for purchase. The gardens at the Wilton House Museum will be open which were restored using proceeds from Historic Garden Week. It is also recommended to visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum garden which was also restored with funding from Historic Garden Week. If you still have time remaining after the main stops, visit the stunning Kent-Valentine Mansion which is the Headquarters of the Garden Club of Virginia or Maymont.

The Cary Street tour does happen to be on my birthday and Virginia Arbor Day so it probably will be my selection. I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday than strolling around gardens and homes in beautiful Richmond Virginia.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

More Snow to Come ?

Oh please don't snow on my Daffodils again.
Sitting bundled up on the couch, l wonder if there will be more snow to come in Central Virginia this year. It's highly likely that we will at least see a frost or freeze up until May 1st and serious Spring poo-pooers will even extend that date to May 15th. At the end of April when I was born, my mother almost named me Bridget because as they were driving to the hospital across the New River Bridge in Radford, Virginia I was nearly born in a raging snowstorm.

Me and my Grandmother Mimi's Mums.
I use my birthday as a planting barometer, waiting a week afterwards and watching the weather forecast 10 days out from that point. If no frost is forecast then I go to town with my vast array of shovels, forks, and spades. If a surprise frost hits then I have old sheets ready to cover up plants.

Beautiful yellow Peony and vintage border I designed.
Right now in Virginia, Zone 7a we can direct sew a few seeds like lettuce, peas, onions and some perennial flowers. According to this study waiting even a few more weeks will provide you with greater and faster seed germination rates. I also plant some perennial flower seed outside in a recycled greenhouse using a milk jug. I start my tomatoes, peppers, herbs and annual flower seed in my basement in my portable greenhouse, under a grow light system.

Tree Swallow checked into one of our houses last year.

This time of year when the itch to plant hits, I attempt to shift my focus to cleaning and repairing bird houses and tidying up spent flowerbeds. Check bird houses for leaks and especially roof damage We have accumulated a table full of houses that need repair. The majority of birds prefer a clean house each spring, there are exceptions.

There are some flowering plants you can buy early and plant out. Pansies are the top seller since they are hardier than most other readily available flowering plants.

Sorry to be a Spring spoiler but don't get too anxious and plant too soon, losing your carefully grown seedlings to an early frost or freeze. Instead, enjoy this beautiful weather and get out and tour some fine Virginia Gardens.

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