More than 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks will be included in “America’s Largest Open House,” the oldest and largest statewide house and garden tour event.  At the peak of Virginia’s springtime color, three dozen Historic Garden Week tours of some of the finest properties in the United States will be available, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Allegheny Mountains, spanning several centuries from the early 17 C. through the early 21 C.

Included will be formal, walled, cottage, cutting, annual and perennial, herb, water, and even “secret” gardens.  Beautiful renovated historic properties with interesting family histories and stories of the Revolutionary War, Civil War and the Victorian era.  Stunning contemporary residences are on the tour.  You can see outstanding collections of glass, china, and American, European and Asian antiques.  Each tour offers a variety of 5 to 6 local houses and gardens, many open to the public for the first time for Garden Week.

The stately interior and exquisite gardens of Tuckahoe Plantation, boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson, will be open in the Richmond area.  Garden Week visitors may stroll the grounds at any time for self-guided tours.  Tuckahoe is considered to be the most complete plantation layout in North America dating from the early 18th century.  The beautiful grounds include a cemetery, the office and schoolhouse where Thomas Jefferson went to classes, a small 18th century country-style kitchen garden with perennials, vegetable lots and a Memorial Garden designed by Charles F. Gillette.

The Pavilion Gardens at the University of Virginia are among the crown jewels of the historic restoration projects of The Garden Club of Virginia with funding from Historic Garden Week tours.  Surrounding the pavilions and enclosed by the serpentine walls designed by Thomas Jefferson, the gardens have been continuously restored and upgraded with plant material known in Jefferson's era.  As naturalist, gardener, farmer, and scientist, Jefferson kept meticulous notes in his Garden Book. The first entry was in 1766, when, at the age of twenty-three, he noted "the Purple hyacinth begins to bloom." His last entry, at the age of eighty-one, was a kitchen garden calendar of planting times, locations, and harvest dates. Jefferson's interests ranged from the amount of seasonal rainfall, to the best tasting bean, to the preferred method of grafting peach trees. Following his own belief that "the greatest service which can be rendered by any country is to add a useful plant to its culture," Jefferson cultivated plants from England, France, and the Lewis and Clark American exploration, as well as from expeditions to Africa and China.

The splendid gardens of the Morven Estate in Albemarle County have been a highlight of Historic Garden Week tours since 1929.  Morven’s magnificent estate gardens were created near Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, on a hillside with panoramic pastoral views.  The landscape contains a number of unusual trees, including a pair of Osage oranges, the state champion Chinese chestnut and a lovely dove tree. Extensive gardens form a series of distinct outdoor rooms, with thousands of tulips, pansies, forget-me-nots, lilacs, wisteria, spireas, deutzia and a rose garden. Annette Hoyt Flanders renovated the garden in the 1930s.  Morven was a charter property opened for the first Historic Garden Week in Virginia in 1929 and is now owned by the University of Virginia Foundation. The stately antebellum brick manor house will also be open for touring.

Westover, on the banks of the James River, is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in America, built in 1730 by William Byrd II, author, diarist, colonial leader and founder of the cities of Petersburg and Richmond.  The lawn, with its centuries-old tulip poplars, offers a commanding view of the James River.  The grounds are still protected by wrought-iron gates hung by Williams Byrd in n 1709 and are known to be the finest set of 18th century gates in this country.  Westover Plantation, on the banks of the historic James River, is considered to be one of the finest examples of 18th century Georgian architecture in America.

Get a rare glimpse into some of the Commonwealth’s finest private estates in Northern Virginia’s magnificent hunt country in Winchester-Clarke County.  Impressive homes, old and new, are hidden along winding lanes amid green pastures, lovely gardens, Thoroughbred barns and scenic mountain backdrops. Five outstanding rural estates, dating from the 18th century to the early 21st, will not be opened to the public again by their present owners for quite some time, if ever.  All have interesting stories, including Civil War maneuvers in the area and current homeowners’ interests in green technology.  One property was built in the roaring ’20s as a showplace in the grand manner for the daughter of a New York Supreme Court Judge, also owner of the Savoy Hotel.  Furnishings include elaborate 16th century paneling from Samuel Guggenheim’s penthouse suite at the Savoy and a chandelier from the estate of famed architect Stanford White.  The Crash of 1929 ended the mansion’s glory days.  The owner was forced to evacuate. Furniture was sold or lost.  Vines grew through the windows.  Visitors will enjoy viewing the wonderful restoration and reconstruction that has been accomplished by the present owners at this handsome country manor.

During the Colonial period of the 17th and 18th centuries, rivers served as “highways” for early settlers, their friends and their business enterprises.  As plantations along Virginia’s major waterways prospered, fine mansions began to line the banks of the James, Rappahannock, York and Potomac rivers.

Some of Virginia’s most distinguished manor houses from this period will be showcased in Richmond County on Virginia. Generations later, several of these legendary homes are still owned by descendants of their original builders.  Included on this year’s tour are a site where Captain John Smith was entertained by Powhatan Indians in 1609, the home place of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and an estate that figured prominently in the introduction of Thoroughbred racing and breeding to this country.  Refreshments will be served in the fabulous stable on the grounds of Mount Airy, one of the most beautiful 18th century Palladian houses in Virginia.

Lexington area tour will include a visit to charming homes, chapels and gardens that were part of  General Robert E. Lee’s life during this period and also the life of Stonewall Jackson.  Of special interest is the house built especially for Lee, with an adjoining brick stable for his beloved horse, Traveller, and a spacious, three-sided veranda around the first floor designed by Lee to enable his wife, confined to a wheelchair, to move freely around the exterior.
Master Gardeners will be stationed in the Stonewall Jackson House Garden to talk with visitors about the period varieties in this space and their horticulture.  The garden is planted and maintained by volunteers.

Historic Williamsburg homes and gardens will be on the tour... a story for another posts!

For more information see:

No comments: