It’s time for Garden Week!
Have you ever wanted to take a peek inside some of the beautiful homes in our area? You can during Historic Garden Week, when The Garden Clubs of the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and Gloucester host tours featuring some of the most prized historic, new and remodeled homes in our area. Celebrate spring and take part in this 8-day, statewide Historic Garden Week – the largest open house in the country! Hostesses guide you through each house which is decorated with sumptuous flower arrangements created by the garden club members using flowers from their own gardens. It’s a great way to discover more about the area and find inspiration for your own home. It’s also nice to know that ticket proceeds support restoration of historic gardens and state parks throughout the state. It’s a fun day and a way to give back!
Where are the tours this year?
Every tour is a little bit different, but they all have a headquarters for the day of the tour where you can purchase tickets, find restrooms, parking, and refreshments. Ticket prices range from $25-$45 and are available on line at https://www.vagardenweek.org
There is something for everyone. This is a chance to see inside and discover more about our rich history and fascinating people and life we have around us.
Gloucester – Saturday, April 27th
With three houses this year, The Gloucester tour is headquartered at Abingdon Episcopal Church, 4645 George Washington Memorial Hwy., Hayes (White Marsh) 23072. 17th century, Little England is a must see. Used as a lookout during the Battle of Yorktown, a hospital during the War of 1812, and a garrison during the Civil War, it is surrounded by 58 acres of farmland. The central portion was built from a design by Sir Christopher Wren, and the new owners have decorated it with contemporary and antique furnishings. Sweetgrass, the second home on the tour, was built in 2007. It has a fabulous view of the Severn River and historic Warner Hall, home of George Washington’s great-great grandfather and the oldest land grant in Virginia. Belvinham Quay is a new three-story house built by an artist and contains many unique features. Gloucester has many historic sites of interest including Rosewell Plantation and Mathews Visitors Center located in the old Sibley general store.
Northern Neck – Wednesday, May 1st
This tour is held in Colonial Beach, which is located on the Potomac River in historic Westmoreland County. It was once a short ride on the Steamboat to Colonial Beach from Washington and Baltimore. Starting in the 1880’s people flocked to Colonial Beach to enjoy the summer. The tour features five different private homes which reflect a variety of styles from cottage to large Victorian. Just one mile south of Colonial Beach is newly restored birthplace of James Monroe. 5th President of the United States. His home will be open for the first time on this tour! And about 20 minutes away from Colonial Beach is Stratford Hall, home of the Lee family. This will be open and is offering free entry to anyone with a HGW ticket stub. The headquarters for the tour is at The Colonial Beach Community Center, 717 Marshall Avenue. Community Center, 717 Marshall Ave., Colonial Beach, 22443
Middle Peninsula and Essex – Friday, May 3rd
There are four houses to see on this tour – all gems and remarkable examples of 18th century architecture in Virginia, each in a different way. The tour headquarters is also historic. Rappahannock Christian Church, 339 Dunnsville Road, is one of the oldest Disciples of Christ churches in the country. Don’t miss Ben Lomond, built in 1730. This brick two story Georgian has a cemetery with revolutionary and Civil War soldiers. Riverside, the second house on the tour, was built in 1900 and has been altered 11 times. It is a fantastic blend of old and new. Aspen Grove dates back to 1710 and has an addition that was dismantled and moved from Sperryville. The Dunn family built Rose Hill in 1790 and lived there for almost 200 years. This two story frame house was renovated in 1960 and 1993.
What to expect on the tour:
- Ticket prices range from $25-$45 and are available on line at https://www.vagardenweek.org
- Each tour has a headquarters where you can buy tickets on tour day, use the restroom, and get refreshments.
- This is a walking tour so wear comfortable shoes
- Parking is limited and some tours will use shuttles
- The tour takes place rain or shine
- No indoor photography is allowed
- No public restrooms at the houses
- There are usually about 4 or 5 houses on each tour – it will take a few hours to do them all.
How did Garden Week get started?
It all started with a flower show in 1927 that was organized to raise money to save trees that Thomas Jefferson planted at Monticello. In the years following the Garden Club of Virginia began house tours of historic homes and it has grown every year. Proceeds from early tours were used to restore the gardens at Kenmore in Fredericksburg and Stratford Hall in Westmoreland County. More recently, proceeds have been used for improvements at Historic Christ Church, Belle Isle and Westmoreland State Parks, as well as many, many other projects around the state.
Garden Week helps our local economy:
Today, there are 47 associated clubs participating throughout the state to raise money for The Garden Club of Virginia. A 2014 economic impact study showed that 30,000 visitors attended tours in 31 different areas of Virginia. They spend over $2 million each spring bringing in tax revenues of almost $200,000. Even more impressive is the tally for the planning: It’s estimated that member clubs and homeowners spend over $4 million and 65,000 hours preparing for Garden Week! That’s a lot of work behind the scenes!
Something for Everyone
Flowers, cookies, design, and history. What’s not to love! There is something for everyone. I hope you have a chance to visit many of the homes on these wonderful tours!
About The Author:
Johanna Carrington is an artist based in the Northern Neck. She and her husband are originally from Richmond and have three college age kids. In 1997 they began looking for property where they could dock their beloved old Cheoy Lee sailboat, but they never dreamed that they’d end up living their full time. After 10 years of spending just weekends and summers on the water, Johanna and her family decided to leave Richmond and move to their old cottage on Dymer Creek as full-time residents. They enjoy every minute of life in the Northern Neck and are constantly learning more about the history and new things happening!
A graduate from UVA with a degree in Architectural History and VCU in Interior Design, Johanna worked as an interior designer and in her own small floral design business before taking up painting full time. She began painting while in college and continued to paint at the Virginia Museum Studio School and various workshops. She has painted in a regular group with Richmond artists for many years, and she paints almost daily in her studio at home. Her art can be found on her website: https://johannacarringtonart.com/