In Full Bloom
by Julie Reardon
There’s a little voyeurism in all of us. We love to peek through the windows and behind the closed doors and walled gardens of others, especially the wealthy. So even if you aren’t an avid gardener, Historic Garden Week in Virginia offers a rare chance to visit a few of the area’s loveliest estates during a time when they’re all dressed up in spring colors.
Historic Garden Week is a statewide event, sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia and its local chapters and this year is April 23-30th, when 250 of the most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks statewide will be open during “America’s Largest Open House.” This 8-day event provides visitors a unique opportunity to see unforgettable gardens at the peak of Virginia’s springtime color, as well as beautiful houses and historic sites sparkling with over 2,000 flower arrangements created by Garden Club of Virginia members.
Back in 1927, a flower show put on by the Garden Club of Virginia raised $7,000 to preserve some of the trees on the lawn of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, a huge sum at that time, and Historic Garden Week was born. The Garden Club of Virginia operates as a non-profit organization comprised of 47 member clubs and 3,400 volunteers. Proceeds go toward the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic public gardens. The first statewide tour was in 1929, and since then over $17 million has been contributed to this worthwhile cause.
The nearly 50 active Garden Club of Virginia restoration projects statewide include Mount Vernon, the Pavilion Gardens at the University of Virginia, and the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, which benefit from Historic Garden Week tours. Tour proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic gardens, and provide graduate level research fellowships for building comprehensive and ongoing records of historic gardens and landscapes in the Commonwealth, and support the mission of the Garden Club of Virginia.
In the Blue Ridge, with those fabled mountains, the stone walls, the dogwoods, and the redbuds in bloom for the backdrop, the Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club will hold four spectacular houses and their gardens open on Sunday, April 24th and Monday, April 25th. All four are located around Middleburg, Upperville and the village of Paris (the one in Virginia, not France). The homes include a restored 1812 Federal village farmhouse overlooking the scenic Paris valley; a stately Georgian manor built in 1913 on 350 acres and fully restored, including its formal sunken gardens, by the current owners in 2010; a distinctive contemporary courtyard home with attached stable built to take advantage of the landscape in 2011; and another newer home and outbuildings built 1999-2003, with inspiration taken from Colonial era homes, on farmland originally part of a 1731 Carter land grant.
Tickets for the Fauquier Loudoun Garden Club’s tour can be purchased in advance online and are $40 on the day of the tour. For online purchase, go to vagardenweek.com and on the day of the tour, they can be purchased locally at Buchanan Hall in Upperville or at the National Sporting Library in Middleburg. For the Monday tour only, box lunches can be ordered in advance for $15. For details, email: email@example.com.
More Garden Goodies
The Upperville Garden Club’s 53rd annual Daffodil Show will have thousands of daffodils on display at Buchanan Hall on the south side of Rt. 50 in Upperville on April 12th. Here, you can see every kind of daffodil, from the mundane to the exotic. More than 50 exhibitors are expected to enter from Virginia and nearby states; this year’s theme is Historic Virginia Mansions. Themed arrangements will highlight the Federal styles of historic Virginia homes such as Mount Vernon, Monticello, Morven Park, Montpelier and Oatlands, and more.
The doors open at 2 p.m., and although admission is free, donations are welcomed. According to organizers, anyone can enter an exhibit. If you think you have some prize-worthy daffodils and/or are good at arranging them, just pick them, arrange them and plan to arrive between 8 and 10 a.m. on April 12th; volunteers will be on hand to assist you. In addition to the themed exhibits, there are a wide variety of divisions; including large and small cupped daffodils, double daffodils, Jonquilla, one or multi stemmed, and more. For information, call (540) 554-4551.
Civil War history and racing over fences
Perhaps you’ve seen the Mosby Heritage Area signs on Route 50 west of 15 or out I66 west of Haymarket and wondered about them. The Mosby Heritage Area Association is a local nonprofit preservation and education group. On April 3, Green Garden, a privately owned antebellum home near Upperville, will be open for a tour as part of a Civil War program with tales from local historians. The tour will begin at Buchanan Hall at 2 p.m., followed by a caravan to Green Garden for a reception and tour. Green Garden dates from 1833 and is on the National Historic Register. Several of Mosby’s Rangers, including sons of the then-owner Jesse Richards, lived in the house, known as a Mosby “safe house” during the Civil War. The “hidey hole” used by the rangers for quick escape can still be seen at the historic old home. The tour is $40 ($30 for members of the Mosby Heritage Area Association members); for information on the tour call (540) 687-6681 or visit MosbyHeritageArea.org.
And don’t forget the horses—racing is in full swing, both point to points as well as the big sanctioned races. Our pick: Old Dominion Hounds’ point to point races Saturday April 9 in Rappahannock County west of Warrenton at Ben Venue on April 9; post time for the first of 8 races is noon. For reserved parking or general information call (540) 364-4573 or visit the hunt’s website at OldDominionHounds.weebly.com. Sanctioned racing action comes to Glenwood Park with the Middleburg Spring Races April 23; for information visit MiddleburgSpringRaces.com.