Virginia Garden Week is a Big Deal!
Virginia’s Historic Garden Week is our nation’s oldest house and garden tour, the first being conducted in 1929. Held during the last week of April, it is considered “America’s largest open house”.
With 3400 volunteers, it’s Virginia’s largest ongoing volunteer effort. There will be a small army of garden clubbers out there (mostly ladies, but a few men too) putting up and taking down the white signs with green arrows. Volunteers serve as docents-for-a-day and create over 2,000 incredible floral displays that make professional florists weep with envy.
Virginia Garden Week is huge. In 2014, 30,000 visitors toured 234 private homes on 31 tours across the state. The 2014 tour had an estimated $11 million economic impact.
Proceeds from the tour have funded landscape restoration projects at the big and famous (Mt. Vernon, Monticello, and Montpelier) and smaller, not as famous but local to us (Belle Grove Plantation, Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood, Virginia State Arboretum at Blandy, and even Handley High School in Winchester).
Local Recommendations: Warrenton Tour
The Warrenton tour will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, April 22 and 23, and has something for everyone. For real garden aficionados, the Appleton Gardens at Marshfield were designed by noted garden author and designer Colston Burrell. See woodland azaleas, ferns and hellebores, a boxwood allee, a secret garden, a druidic circle, and a serenity pool incorporated into the foundation of the 19th Century house on the site that burned.
For historic preservationists, The Oaks is a 1930’s Classical Revival home filled with seven generations of family possessions and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Want to see how to create some history of your own? Visit Springlea where the owners incorporated three 18th and 19th century buildings brought to the site within the “skin” of a clapboard house that has commanding views of the Blue Ridge.
Gourmet box lunches are available at Whiffletree Farm from 11:30 to 2:30, ONLY by advance reservations and prepayment made by April 16. Email email@example.com for lunch selections and reservations. The restored Wiffletree carriage house will be open. Not exactly a two-car garage, it was built to house the First Lady of Foxhunting’s collection of over 100 carriages.
If possible, try to be at Elway Hall around 2:00 either day of the tour where local packs of hounds will be shown. This IS Virginia, right? A 1907 Edwardian mansion, Elway was the largest private residence in the Warrenton area at the time it was built.
Local Recommendations: Winchester Tour
The Winchester tour on Saturday April 25 features two museum houses and three private homes, all within a three-mile radius. The Glen Burnie House, described in our blog last week, and its six acres of gardens are well worth a visit. The English and Asian style gardens contain three crab apple allées, folly buildings, fountains, sculpture, and a newly completed spring garden containing 13,000 spring bulbs. The other museum house is an 1854 Gothic Revival that served as Stonewall Jackson’s headquarters for four months during the Civil War.
Glen Burnie Historic House
The private homes on the tour include an award-winning design connecting two adjacent 18th Century homes with a common Japanese and English-style gardens. The other two homes on the tour are a 1915 Craftsman house and an 1870’s Italianate house with vibrantly painted rooms filled with light from the large original windows.
Box lunches are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with “Box Lunches” in the subject line. Pre-payment is required by April 21. Alternatively, lunch will be available in the area at Bonnie Blue Southern Market and Bakery on the tour day.
Local Recommendations: Front Royal Tour
The Front Royal tour will also be held on Saturday April 25 and features a historic church, three private homes and two historic house museums. The home at 67 Pollys Court is a 2012 Timberframe Hybrid home with geothermal heating, pegged mortise joints, stacked stone walls, and a spectacular 20 foot high window framing a view of the Shenandoah River and surrounding mountains. The house is filled with art and artifacts from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The grounds contain extensive plantings; the custom Timberframe barn will also be open.
A buffet lunch will be served at the Parish Hall of the 1892 Victorian Gothic Calvary Episcopal Church which is also on the tour. Reservations can be made by contacting Mrs. Peg Goodyear at (540) 636-9321.
The two museum houses are at the same location. The 1788 Balthis House had its last addition in 1859 and features multiple outbuildings and two living history gardens. The Belle Boyd Cottage is restored to the time of the Civil War when it was home to Confederate spy Isabella Boyd, complete with replication of an 1860’s garden.
Make a Plan
Wisteria at Vaucluse
In our view of course, the best way to enjoy any or all of these local tours is to incorporate them into a stay at The Inn at Vaucluse Spring. We are 45 minutes from Warrenton, 25 minutes from Front Royal, and 20 from Winchester. You can tour our 1820’s historic Manor House and even spend the night! Our grounds and gardens aren’t too shabby either. Get full details about times, tickets and directions for tours at vagardenweek.org. Check room availability at the inn here.