The bucolic countryside of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, with its magnificent landscapes, rich farm lands, and historic homes, will be on full display during Virginia Garden Week, an annual House & Garden Tour scheduled for April 20-27. Every April, visitors are welcomed to more than 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks during “America’s Largest Open House.” This 8-day statewide event provides visitors a unique opportunity to see unforgettable gardens at the peak of Virginia’s springtime color, as well as beautiful houses sparkling with over 2,000 fabulous flower arrangements created by Garden Club of Virginia members. Here is an overview of the tours taking place within The Journey:
Somerset Estates in Orange County (April 20)
“Where Tradition Meets Today” is the theme of this pastoral and picturesque house and garden tour. Since the 18th century, the rolling countryside with gentle blue mountains in Virginia’s Piedmont near Somerset has attracted the establishment of impressive estates. Three of these historic mansions with their beautiful gardens will be on view, including Annandale, Rocklands and Frascati. In addition, the tour will include a visit to Grelen Nursery, one of the largest retail nurseries in Virginia, featuring its new Farm Market and Garden Shop. The future of development in and around Somerset has drawn major controversy to this tiny community during the past year. This Historic Garden Week tour, sponsored by the Dolley Madison Garden Club, offers a unique opportunity to visit private estates in the area, located less than two hours from Washington D.C., and understand why Somerset has become a focal point in the development/conservation debate in the Piedmont.
Morven and the Charlottesville Area (April 20-23)
Morven, a three-story brick manor house built in the late-Georgian/Federal Style, dates to 1820. The land on which it sits was part of the original Carter family land grant and was known to Thomas Jefferson as, “Indian Camp.” The 7,378-acre estate was given to the University of Virginia Foundation by the late John Kluge. The 19th century ambience of the house remains even after 20th century additions and interior renovations. The grounds are extraordinary. Annette Hoyt Flanders renovated the original gardens in the 1930s and more gardens were added by Mr. Kluge. Look for unusual trees such as a pair of Osage orange trees, the state champion Chinese chestnut, and a lovely dove tree. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and on the Virginia Landmarks Register. Tours continue on Sunday and Monday at four other stunning properties in Afton and the Nellysford area that are sponsored by the Albemarle Garden Club, The Charlottesville Garden Club and the Rivanna Garden Club
Waterford in Loudoun County (April 22)
“Waterford: Where the Past is Always Present” is the theme of this house and garden tour. The frenetic pace of life drops to an ambling gait as you stroll the streets of Waterford. This tour invites you to take a leisurely walk into the past through a village settled in 1733. Its history will speak to you through the language of the architecture of the lovingly and accurately restored 18th century homes. Waterford, once a busy hub of commerce centered around the Janney Mill, was left to decay as the Civil War and subsequent railroad passed it by. Neglect nearly spelled the end for the village. By the late 1930’s interest in Waterford had begun to stir once again due to its picturesque rural setting and quiet pace. Buildings began to be carefully renovated and new life began to emerge. Since that time Waterford has been largely returned to its graceful and peaceful pace with homes and gardens that beckon exploration and a journey to another time. Exclusive of one home, this is a walking tour. It includes six homes and the Old School in Waterford. This tour is sponsored by the Leesburg Garden Club and the Fauquier-Loudoun Garden Club
Warrenton (April 24-25)
Follow in the footsteps of Chief Justice John Marshall as you visit the houses and gardens on this tour of hunt country in Northern Virginia. Leeds Manor Farm in Hume, built for Marshall’s son in 1829 is still a working farm. The Chief Justice built a small addition near the house for his books and to use during his retirement. Nearby in the village of Hume is the Parsonage, built ca. 1855. It has been completely renovated, but retains the extensive gardens of it previous owner. Glen Gordon Manor in Huntly, originally a stagecoach stop for Wells Fargo, became the residence of a friend of the Duchess of Windsor in the 1920s. The bones of the formal garden are being resurrected by the current owners and magnificent trees, including century old beeches, grace the lawns. Nearby in Flint Hill is Standen Still, a “new old” house built in the 1990s following the style of the English Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th century. An extensive garden, initially laid out by noted landscape designer, Dana Westring, has been extended by the current owner, a budding horticulturist and designer. Locust Grove in a park-like setting near Flint Hill is a gracious 19th century brick house with beautifully integrated modern wings. The house is filled with antiques and family memorabilia. Headquarters for this tour will be located at Marriott Ranch in Hume, another John Marshall house. The Ashland Basset Hounds and the Piedmont Driving Club will add another component to this tour featuring 5 properties. Sponsored by The Warrenton Garden Club.
Tickets are available on-line at http://www.vagardenweek.org/. Proceeds go to the Garden Club of Virginia for use in restoring historic gardens throughout the Virginia.