For nearly a century the Garden Club of Virginia, a non-profit organization, has been committed to preserving the beauty of Virginia for all to enjoy. Early leaders in conservation issues and environmental concerns, members advocated for maintaining the pristine beauty of Goshen Pass and the wilderness of the Great Dismal Swamp. Over the last decade, the Garden Club of Virginia has supported conservation projects along rivers and waterways, sponsored workshops and hosts an annual Forum that takes a balanced look at environmental issues within the commonwealth. These efforts go hand in hand with educating members and the public about relevant topics, like using native plants in the landscape.
Since 1920 the Garden Club of Virginia has grown from eight founding clubs to 47 clubs with over 3,300 members. It is the coordinated efforts of these talented volunteers, along with the generosity of over 200 private home owners, who make Historic Garden Week possible. Historic Garden Week is Virginia’s largest ongoing volunteer effort and the country’s oldest and biggest house and garden tour. Proceeds from this statewide annual event have supported the restoration and preservation of some of Virginia’s most beloved historic gardens, including Mt. Vernon, Oatlands and the University of Virginia.
There are 31 tours across Virginia that take place over 8 consecutive days. For a complete schedule, tickets, tour descriptions and 6 suggested itineraries, visit www.vagardenweek.org. Here’s a sneak peek at just three of the tours taking place this year between April 26 and May 3.
Orange County – Saturday, April 26.
Garden Club Gordonsville has just celebrated its bicentennial anniversary – a place of presidents and generals. It was an important crossroad during the Civil War as both a receiving hospital for thousands of casualties and a rail hub for transporting food, supplies and soldiers. The town emerged from the war and its aftermath, a devastating downtown fire and the Great Depression to the present day renaissance of its downtown. Historic Garden Week visitors will tour three village homes and their gardens, experience upscale shopping along the main street and have access to unique dining experiences. The Exchange Hotel, which was recently renovated, is included in the tour. Christ Episcopal Church will include special activities during the day, along with musicians and artists in historic venues in downtown.
Middleburg – Sunday, April 27 and Monday, April 28.
Tucked in the northwest corner of Virginia in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains are the historic towns of Middleburg and Upperville. Filled with unique shops and quaint restaurants, these enchanting towns in the heart of Hunt Country are featured in this year’s “Splendor in the Grass” tour. Both towns are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Of the five estates included, two predate the Civil War. All were chosen to inspire gardeners.
Albemarle County – Sunday, April 27 and Monday, April 28.
Visitors will travel historic roads amid scenic vistas through part of the Southern Albemarle Rural Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007 in recognition of its national significance. Several buildings in the district reflect the influence of Thomas Jefferson’s classical architectural ideals and much of the land is still held in large farms as it has been since the 18th century. Three of Albemarle County’s finest historic properties, all dating to the Jefferson era, highlight the area’s treasured early architecture, beautiful landscapes and rich agricultural heritage.