Plan Your Visit
Historic Garden Week 2014
Historic Garden Week tours are the perfect way to enjoy Virginia’s unique regions. For eight days every spring visitors are welcomed to 250 of Virginia’s most picturesque gardens and private homes showcased in 31 tours during “America’s Largest Open House.” Historic Garden Week is sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia. The beginning dates to 1927, when a flower show organized by GCV volunteers raised $7,000 to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. Today, proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of the state’s significant historic public gardens.
Northern Virginia 2014 - 4 Days
Saturday, 4/26 in Old Town Alexandria
Sunday, 4/27 in Clarke County-Winchester
Monday, 4/28 in Middleburg
Tuesday 4/29 in Fairfax County
Begin a long weekend near the nation’s capitol with a walking tour in Old Town Alexandria, the third city in the country to create a historic district to preserve its downtown. This popular tour includes five urban homes dating from the late 18th and early 19th centuries on South Lee and Duke Streets. Wander through grand parlors, old flounder houses, historic narrow alleys and enchanting walled gardens. Enjoy refreshments at historic St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Shopping and fine dining are just steps away.
Take a beautiful drive heading 60 miles north-west on Sunday for a tour of four private homes and gardens in the charming villages of Millwood and White Post, as well as historic Long Branch, which was completed in 1811. It became a museum in 1993 and is now a retirement home for thoroughbred racehorses. The tour follows west of the Shenandoah River in Clarke County. Highlights include a Victorian farm house built in 1874 and a newer home that includes an English country-style garden.
Enjoy the second day of a two-day tour in the Middleburg-Upperville area on Monday. Also known for its beautiful horse farms and picturesque country drives, these sophisticated small towns are filled with unique shops and quaint restaurants. Located in the heart of Hunt Country, both are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Of the five estates included, two predate the Civil War. All will be especially inspiring to serious gardeners.
Circle back towards Washington D.C. on your last day of this four day vacation with a walking tour in Vienna, near the regional shopping magnet of Tysons Corner Center with direct metro connections into Washington D.C. In addition to access to four private homes and gardens in the historic area, a full day of gardening themed Special Activities at nearby Wolftrap Performing Arts Center and Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is planned.
Chesapeake Bay 2014 – 6 days
Monday, 4/28 at Westover Plantation in Charles City
Tuesday, 4/29 in Williamsburg
Wednesday, 4/30 in Northern Neck
Thursday, 5/1 in Norfolk
Friday, 5/2 in Middle Peninsula
Saturday, 5/3 in Gloucester
Birthplace of presidents and Pocahontas, and offering spectacular waterfront views, the Chesapeake Bay region is where history and hospitality converge. Begin your 6 day vacation on one of Virginia’s most scenic byways, traveling Route 5 to Westover Plantation. William Byrd II, author, diarist, colonial leader and founder of the cities of Petersburg and Richmond, built the house, one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in America, in 1730. The lawn includes century-old tulip poplars and offers a commanding view of the James River. The house and grounds are open for three days especially for Historic Garden Week.
On Tuesday arrive in nearby Williamsburg, featuring private homes and gardens on Conservancy Road close to the Williamsburg Winery, as well as two properties and three gardens located in the Revolutionary City. In all, this walking tour includes 10 distinct sites. Highlights include a 22-acre waterfront property comprised of forest, wetlands and cultivated beds owned by a Master Gardener. Another homeowner is the curator of prints, maps and wallpaper for Colonial Williamsburg. Her knowledge is put to playful and beautiful use in her home.
On Wednesday, sojourn to Richmond County, known as the gateway to the Northern Neck of Virginia. Located on a peninsula surrounded by waters of the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers, the history of the county dates back 300 years. Winding rivers, quiet creeks and inlets and marshes are all part of the local waterway system. The tour includes Mount Airy, Sabine Hall and Grove Mount, three stunning, historic private residences around Warsaw, which have recently transitioned to a new generation of owners. In addition, nearby Sugar Hill and two homes at Suggetts Point, a waterfront community, will be open for the first time.
The themes of water and history continue on May Day in Norfolk for a tour of homes and gardens along the beautiful Lafayette River in the adjoining neighborhoods of Meadowbrook and Algonquin Park. Residents in these two 1920s neighborhoods enjoy tranquility in the midst of the bustling City of Norfolk. Picket fences, verdant flowerbeds, and worn brick paths take the place of sidewalks in this secluded haven.
Travel the winding roads of King William County in the Middle Peninsula through a richly forested landscape painted with streams, creeks and rivers and interspersed with wide, open fields on Friday. This house and garden tour features four houses on the western end of the county. Two are from the early 1800s, and two are newer homes.
Conclude Historic Garden Week in Gloucester. Rich in farmland and important to the Virginia fishing industry, it is nicknamed the "Daffodil Capital of the World." In addition to access to private homes and gardens, the ticket includes admission to local historical sites, including Holly Knoll. Built in the 1930s, it was the retirement home of Dr. Robert Russa Moton, the second president of Tuskegee Institute, who held retreats there. It is said that Dr. Martin Luther King wrote portions of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the bench beneath the live oak tree on the front lawn overlooking the York River.
Southern Virginia 2014 – 4 days
Wednesday, 4/30 in Martinsville
Thursday, 5/1 in Danville
Friday, 5/2 at nearby Smith Mountain Lake or Lake Gaston
Saturday, 5/3 head west to Roanoke or east to Boydton
In the heart of tobacco and railroad country, Southern Virginia boasts six race tracks, including the International Raceway near Danville, and two popular lake areas, great for vacations, weekend homes and retirement. There are elegant plantation homes, antique shops and art galleries, and water sports galore.
Begin this mid-week tour in Stanleytown, near Martinsville, with a tour that features three homes and gardens spanning a century – from the 1830s to the 1930s. Stoneleigh is an English Tudor country house that sits on 56 landscaped acres along the Smith River and includes a Charles Gillette-designed rose garden. Edgewood was vacant for several years before undergoing extensive renovation. A national and Virginia Landmark too, it includes award-winning art photos taken by the current owners. The final property, Edgewood Manor features a breath-taking oval shaped foyer with a winding two-story staircase with an antique Chickering concert grand piano.
Travel to Danville for May Day and a tour that highlights two significant neighborhoods, “Millionaire’s Row” and “Forest Hills”. Begin the day at Sutherland Mansion, the last capital of the Confederacy built in 1857, now home to the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History, and a Garden Club of Virginia restoration site. Cross Main Street to tour an 1873 neoclassic frame house. Only two miles away in Danville’s first automobile suburb are fine examples of homes and gardens established during Virginia’s textile and tobacco heyday.
On Friday, take a break at Smith Mountain Lake, the largest in the state. With 500 miles of shoreline, visitors can enjoy great restaurants, local artisans, including a well-known pottery studio that has been in business for 35 years, and incredible ice cream at a dairy in Burnt Chimney, Virginia. After a cozy night at an inn and a double scoop of Dutch Chocolate, continue west to one of Garden & Gun’s recent picks as a favorite Southern city. Roanoke features the state’s most historic continuously operating farmer’s market and the uber modern Taubman Museum of Art, which focuses on American Art. The Saturday tour features 5 private homes and gardens and two additional gardens close to the Crystal Spring Village shops and restaurants. Highlights include a 25-year old organic garden and plein air artists in the gardens.
If your journey beckons east, take your day off near Lake Gaston, a reservoir that straddles both Virginia and North Carolina, offering excellent fishing and boating. Conclude Historic Garden Week at historic Boydton, the county seat of Mecklenburg County, an 18th century town. This walking tour features 5 properties, a labyrinth, 3 gardens and 3 places of interest --12 sites in all. “Whispering Woods” has a second floor art gallery open for touring. The Labyrinth is listed on the National Register. A seven circuit St. Paul design, this unique aspect of the tour was designed by a company in Baltimore.
Shenandoah Valley 2014 – 5 days
Saturday, 4/26 in Orange County or at Morven in Charlottesville
Sunday, 4/27 and Monday, 4/28 in Albemarle-Charlottesville
Tuesday, 4/29 in Lynchburg
Wednesday, 4/30 in Harrisonburg
Battlefields, vineyards, bed & breakfasts and deep caverns characterize these bucolic Blue Ridge towns. With significant academic institutions located in or nearby, visitors can enjoy a hip and vibrant restaurant scene as well as unique shopping and sites straight from history class. Close enough to enjoy both, Saturday presents two options. Gordonsville 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 and is the focus for the Orange County tour. The town emerged from the war and its aftermath, a devastating downtown fire and the Great Depression to the present day renaissance of its charming and diminutive downtown. Visitors will enjoy three village homes and their gardens, as well as the Exchange Hotel, and numerous special activities.
Less than a ½ hour away in Charlottesville, the last private owner of Morven, the late John Kluge, gave the farm to the University of Virginia Foundation in 2001. Extraordinary grounds feature the formal and cutting gardens renovated by Annette Hoyt Flanders in the 1930s, as well as gardens added by Mr. Kluge. Tulips, pansies, phlox, lilacs, viburnum and deutzia, among other shrubs and perennials, fill a series of distinct garden rooms.
Stay in Charlottesville on Sunday and Monday, travelling 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. Visit three of Albemarle County’s finest historic properties, all dating to the Jefferson era, highlighting the area’s treasured early architecture, beautiful landscapes and rich agricultural heritage. Nearby is Monticello, an important restoration project of the Garden Club of Virginia, using proceeds from past Historic Garden Week tours.
Take Rt. 29 southwest about an hour to Lynchburg on Tuesday for a tour of 6 private homes owned by landscape architects and artists, all within a 3 mile radius of each other. The gardens are all different and include informal, formal and cottage gardens. Of special interest is Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Spencer’s house museum and garden, which is also included on the tour. A true “gardener’s garden”, it is a labor of love for the Hillside Garden Club, one of the 47 member clubs that comprises the Garden Club of Virginia, and is the featured garden on the front cover of the 2014 guidebook, which lists descriptions of nearly 250 properties and logistics for all 31 statewide tours.
Conclude 5 days by heading north towards Harrisonburg, home of James Madison University and their Arboretum and Botanical Gardens featuring native plants of the mid-Appalachians. The tour is about 2 miles from Historic Downtown Harrisonburg and inspired by the Valley Pike, the name for the original Indian trail which eventually became the major north-south thoroughfare for the Valley until Instate 81 was built in the 1960s. Enjoy three unique properties, one of which started out as a 10,000-square-foot metal building and has been transformed into a luxurious home complete with a kennel for award-winning show dogs.
Central Virginia 2014 – 4 days
Tuesday, 4/29 start in Fredericksburg to the north or Petersburg to the south
Wednesday, 4/30 spend the first of 3 days in Richmond on the Historic Byrd Park tour
Thursday, 5/1 Glenbrooke Hills tour and Tuckahoe Plantation in Goochland County
Friday, 5/2 Hampton Gardens tour
If staying put seems more appealing, use Richmond, the Capital of the Confederacy and home to the VMFA, one of the county’s top-ten art museums, as your home base for 4 days of touring and 39 outstanding properties. Head north on Interstate 95 to Fredericksburg on Tuesday, or head south, a similar distance, to Petersburg, both important to the Civil War.
Fredericksburg was the major site of five Civil War battles. The lower Caroline Street neighborhood is a lovely residential area close to city shops and restaurants. Having been developed over several centuries, the neighborhood is diverse, with architectural styles and periods that makes it appealing and distinctive, from Federal to Victorian Italianate to Georgian. This walking tour showcases these styles and for contrast, includes a newer home with an open-floor-plan home. Tour ticket also allows access to Kenmore, George Washington’s sister’s house and the first restoration project of the Garden Club of Virginia using proceeds from Historic Week. This full day includes George Washington’s Ferry Farm, The James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library, and a special tea featuring hostesses in colonial attire.
Two hours south is Petersburg, and a tour that highlights the Walnut Hill area. Enjoy five private homes and gardens, homemade goodies at the Annual Tea, and easy access to the Marie Bowen Gardens, a woodland park and garden reclaimed by volunteers and garden club members over a 30 year period. Master Gardeners will be in the gardens to answer questions. Ticket also includes admission to nearby Centre Hill Mansion, a restoration site of the Garden Club of Virginia, built in 1823.
Return to Richmond on Tuesday night, a bit tuckered out but with a gourmet and eclectic dining scene that offers lots of options. Venture into Carytown for food and fashion, hang out in a neighborhood Fan district restaurant or visit the hip scene on Church Hill. Unique in the state, Richmond offers three days of touring in three distinct neighborhoods. Begin on Wednesday with a walking tour of homes on Westover Road near Maymont, a mansion with extensive grounds on the banks of the James River. Homes along Westover face Shields and Swan Lakes. The four private homes and five gardens on tour are examples of the varied architectural styles in the neighborhood. Known for its Beaux Arts and City Beautiful designs, there are also examples of Georgian, Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial, and Tudor Revival styles, many showing an Arts and Crafts influence.
On Thursday, start at Tuckahoe Plantation, the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson, in nearby Goochland County. Located on River Road, it features Plein air artists in the extensive gardens in the morning and is considered to be the most complete plantation layouts in North America dating from the early 18th century. Less than 7 miles away, proceed to the University of Richmond, where shuttles will take you to gorgeous properties in the neighborhood of Glenbrooke Hills, developed in the 1930s. It is also the tour’s luncheon location. Bordering the James River, this scenic neighborhood features homes in a variety of architectural styles nestled among trees in park-like settings reached by narrow, winding roads.
On Friday, enjoy another walking tour in a popular neighborhood bordered by Grove Avenue to the south and Patterson Avenue to the north. It is home to handsome examples of Tudor, Georgian, Federal Revival and Mid-century Transitional-style homes. Five private homes and gardens on Greenway Lane, Roslyn Road and Harlan Circle are featured. Highlights include homes owned by interior designers and homes exhibiting significant art collections.
Spend the weekend, enjoying Richmond’s vibrant cultural scene and the state’s largest concentration of restoration projects of the Garden Club of Virginia. These include Maymont, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, the Mews at St. John’s Church, home of Patrick Henry’s famous speech, the grounds of the Executive Mansion, the Wilton House, the Kent-Valentine House, and the headquarters for Historic Garden Week and the Garden Club of Virginia, which is only open the three mornings of the Richmond tours, as well as the Poe Museum.
Hampton Roads 2014 – 5 different day trips
Saturday, 4/26 in the Eastern Shore, Franklin or in Portsmouth
Wednesday, 4/30 Virginia Beach or Yorktown
If you only have one day for Historic Garden Week this spring, pick from three special tours on the opening day, or two mid-week, all in the Hampton Roads area known for the Historic Triangle and Virginia’s famous oceanfront. Too far apart and too full to do more than one, your options on Saturday include the Eastern Shore of Virginia, an unspoiled peninsula nestled between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and home to the oldest continuous court records in the United States, the freshest seafood and where ponies run wild. Five properties include fine examples of masterfully designed woodwork, paneling, faux painting and murals. Each secluded, pastoral setting provides insight into how life has evolved on the beautiful Eastern Shore over 400 hundred years.
Inland, the tour hosted by the Franklin Garden Club tour takes place only every other year, making this a unique opportunity to tour private homes in Courtland, the county seat. Ticket includes admission to 9 locations, including local historical sites. Portsmouth’s house and garden tour features 7 private homes and gardens along quaint, tree-lined streets. Green Acres, the original name for the area, is bordered by the Elizabeth River, Sterns Creek and Lake Jean. Today, this neighborhood is known as Sterling Point because the main entrance is on Sterling Point Drive. Featured homes display a diversity of architectural styles from Williamsburg, Georgian, Federal, Colonial to Ranch and Contemporary.
On Wednesday, choose between Yorktown, an area steeped in Colonial and Revolutionary War history, or a visit to nearby Virginia Beach. The Yorktown tour includes 5 private homes and gardens, as well as one garden overlooking the York River, where refreshments will be served. All are within easy walking distance of each other. Visitors will also enjoy strolling through the quaint shops along the waterfront. Tour includes a gardening lecture by Lisa Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop.
The Lesner Bridge over Lynnhaven Inlet is the gateway to some of Virginia Beach’s most outstanding waterfront neighborhoods. Boaters and birders delight in the flora and fauna of the mild climate tempered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. Sea grasses and shallow inlets provide homes to crabs, oysters, fish and wading birds. Beaches, bays and hiking trails through maritime forest offer endless attraction to outdoor lovers. The tour showcases 5 private homes and gardens, as well as a garden, all offering the area’s most beautiful residential views. Included in the tour ticket is access to six local historical properties.