Whether it’s the inspiring gardens, the interior design and architecture, the history, or the Instagram-worthy flower arrangements created by Garden Club of Virginia members, with 31 tours to choose from this spring, Historic Garden Week 2019 in Virginia offers something for everyone. The only statewide house and garden tour in the nation, this annual springtime ritual includes access to 156 private homes and gardens in communities both large and small.
While Virginia might be the “Mother of Presidents,” Historic Garden Week, as the oldest and largest house and garden tour in the nation, is surely the “Mother of House and Garden Tours” as well. The inspiration happened early in the organization’s history when a flower show organized by Garden Club of Virginia volunteers raised $7,000 to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello.
The first tours, known as “pilgrimages,” took place two years later. Tour proceeds have continued to fund the restoration and preservation of the commonwealth’s significant historic public gardens ever since.
For a complete overview of Historic Garden Week 2019, including suggested itineraries and a description of all featured properties, access the Guidebook. Here are just a few highlights of what’s in store for the event.
Old Town Alexandria
Saturday, April 27
Overlooking the Potomac River and within minutes of our Capital, Alexandria was the third city in the country in 1946 to create a historic district to preserve its downtown. One of the Old Town tour homes was previously owned by Gay Montague Moore, whose dedicated restoration of the Fairfax Moore House started the preservation movement in the City of Alexandria. Begin your trip to Virginia with a walking tour that includes five private properties.
Sunday, April 28 & Monday, April 29
Head west for two days in Leesburg, located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Explore the countryside of southwest Leesburg on this driving tour of four private properties and five gardens. Visitors will enjoy scenery filled with rolling hills and pristine creeks. Lincoln area homes are brimming with Quaker history, while Mt. Gilead features a spectacular peony garden. Tour the newly restored gardens at Oatlands, funded by proceeds from past Historic Garden Week tours.
Wednesday, May 1
Birthplace of presidents and Pocahontas, the Chesapeake Bay region is where history and hospitality converge. The Northern Neck tour showcasing Colonial Beach is located on the Potomac River in historic Westmoreland County. Due to its proximity to Washington D.C. and Baltimore, it became a summer resort in the 1880s, growing when excursion boats and steamships brought tourists to enjoy its beaches, boardwalk and restaurants. This tour features five properties representative of various periods, including the birthplace of President James Monroe.
Thursday, May 2
Nestled near the aptly named Pretty Lake, this quaint community is considered one of Norfolk’s most exciting and desirable neighborhoods. Famous for its brightly colored cottages, the tour features a sampling of residential designs in what is known as East Beach. Homes with cozy front porches and gracefully curving sidewalks were built around majestic old oaks that lead to the sand dunes. There are charming pocket parks sprinkled throughout the area, with benches beckoning. Enjoy access to six private gardens and homes on this walking tour.
Friday, May 3
Travel north two hours to Essex County on the Middle Peninsula, an area rich in planting, crabbing, fishing, and oystering. Named for Essex County in England, and chartered in 1691, this rural area is the site of numerous historical houses that have survived the ravages of time and war. These homes, sometimes referred to as Tidewater South, have gable roofs, dormer windows, and a large chimney at either end. Four of the five featured properties are examples of Tidewater South preservation and restoration.
Saturday, May 4
Settled just a few years after Capt. John Smith landed at Jamestown, this narrow peninsula situated between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is renowned for agriculture, seafood and small-town life. The Eastern Shore tour focuses on the bustling bayside town of Onancock.
The maritime town is complemented by vibrant shops, galleries and restaurants. Travel south to visit perennial tour centerpiece and National Historic Landmark, Eyre Hall c. 1800. Considered to be the oldest in Virginia to be continuously maintained, the gardens contain over 5,000 tulips planted especially for Historic Garden Week.
For more information:
Historic Garden Week 2019 Ticket Discount
Flower magazine has partnered with the Garden Club of Virginia to offer $100 savings per ticket (regular price $300) on a Statewide Pass. Visit many of Virginia’s grandest private and public homes and gardens showcasing the Old Dominion’s horticultural tradition. This pass to the popular annual event, celebrating its 86th year, includes nearly 200 stops on 31 distinct tours across the state. Tour proceeds from “America’s Largest Open House” fund the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic gardens, landscapes and a project with Virginia State Parks.
By Karen Ellsworth