Your Guide to Virginia’s “Historic Garden Week”

Coinciding with the peak of Virginia’s springtime color, the 86th Annual Historic Garden Week (April 26 – May 3, 2014) offers a rare opportunity to visit Virginia’s most gracious homes and lavish, hidden gardens.  This 8-day, statewide event showcases nearly two hundred unforgettable gardens and beautiful houses sparkling with over 2,000 fabulous flower arrangements created by more than 3,400 Garden Club of Virginia members.

Colorful Tulip Beds

Since its beginning in 1929, Historic Garden Week has raised some 17 million dollars for the restoration of public gardens across Virginia, including Mount Vernon, Monticello, and the grounds of the Executive Mansion in Richmond.  This year, there will be 31 separate tours throughout Virginia over eight consecutive days.  Known as “America’s Largest Open House”, it is the largest ongoing volunteer effort in Virginia.

Historic Garden Week – Charlottesville

The rich cultural heritage of Thomas Jefferson’s era is on display in Charlottesville’s portion of 2014 Historic Garden Week, as several buildings on the tour reflect the influence of Jefferson’s classical architectural ideals.  Each of the four properties is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and much of the land is still held in large farms, as it has been since the 18th century.

  • Morven.  Morven is a three-story brick manor house built in the late Georgian/Federal styles.  Dating to 1820, the house was once owned by Thomas Jefferson.  In 2001, the 7,378- acre estate was given to the University of Virginia Foundation by the late John Kluge.  The extraordinary gardens boast a number of interesting varieties, including a pair of Osage orange trees, a state champion Chinese Chestnut, and a lovely dove tree.  Read more here.
  • Bellair Farm.  In continuous agricultural production since the 18th century, Bellair Farm’s community supported agriculture (CSA) areas offer examples of how sustainable strategies can preserve a historic farm while connecting consumers to the land, their food and their farmer.  Read more here.
  • Redlands.  Visitors will also have the opportunity to tour the elegant brick home at Redlands (c. 1798), which has remained in the stewardship of the same family since the original land grant of 1730. It features fine woodwork and furnishings of successive generations.
  • Esmont.  Meticulously restored by the current owner, Esmont (c. 1816) retains many of its original features, including ornamental plasterwork and an exquisitely decorated interior.  William B. Phillips, a brick mason who worked on the University of Virginia under Jefferson, is believed responsible for the fine Flemish bond brickwork that distinguishes the house.
  • University of Virginia.  Founded by Thomas Jefferson and established in 1819, the University of Virginia is the only American university designated as a World Heritage site. This tour of Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, will include all Pavilion gardens, Pavilion Homes on the West Lawn, the Edgar Allen Poe room, the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture and the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, Carr’s Hill, and Morea Garden and Arboretum.  More information is available here.

What Is It:

An 8-day statewide tour of 191 majestic homes and exquisite gardens.  Begun in 1929, more than 17 million dollars has been raised to preserve or restore some of Virginia’s most-cherished historic landmarks.  The Charlottesville portion of the tour will showcase four historic properties, as well as Jefferson’s University of Virginia.

Majestic Colors

Dates (for Charlottesville tours only):

Saturday, April 26, 2014 through Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Morven Estate, 791 Morven Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22902                                   Redlands, 852 Redlands Farm Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902                                   Bellair Farm, 5375 Bellair Farm Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902                             University of Virginia Lawn, 1721 University Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22904

Admission Fee:

$35 advanced ticket purchase or $40 on the day of the tour.  Morven tickets are an additional $15 (in advance) or $20 (day of).  UVA events and locations are free of charge.


Advance tickets can be purchased online here.  Tickets are also available at each tour location on the day of the event.


Morven Estate:  Saturday, April 26, 2014, 10 am – 5 pm                                                Bellair, Esmont, Redlands:  Sun. April 27, 12 pm – 5 pm & Mon. April 28, 10 am – 5pm University of Virginia:  Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 10 am – 5 pm

What Else You Should Know:

This is a driving tour of properties throughout the Charlottesville area.  Most of the homes and gardens are not handicapped-accessible due to multiple staircases, narrow unpaved roads and uneven walkways.  Once onsite, you will do a good bit of walking, so wear comfortable walking shoes.

Enticing Gardens

Neither smoking, pets, nor photography is allowed inside the homes.  Children are welcome, but those under age 17 must be accompanied by an adult.  The tours occur rain or shine, except for Morven (in the event of rain, Morven tours will be cancelled.  Tickets, however, are not refundable).

Official Website:

The website for the Historic Garden week is here. 

Where to Stay:

Our Inn sparkles like a jewel during the Spring, so as you plan your trip to Charlottesville, remember that we have our own captivating grounds (including a century-old arboretum) and fascinating history (our original cabin was built circa 1699 and is still available for guests… see it here.  In addition, we’ll pamper you with breakfast-in-bed and delight you with true Southern hospitality.  Book your stay with us today right here.




What You Should Know About The Battle of Trevilian Station (Historic Re-enactment)

If you’re a history buff or just fascinated by the Civil War, then you don’t want to miss the historic re-enactment of the Battle of Trevilian Station (June 21st & 22nd, 2014).  This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the battle, which was the largest all-cavalry battle of the Civil War.  Nearly 4,000 re-enactors in period attire (and most with horses) will participate… transporting you straight back to the 19th century.  It is an experience not to be missed!

The Battle in a Nutshell…

Having been blocked (see Cold Harbor) in his efforts to directly capture Richmond, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant altered his strategy.  He would instead take Petersburg while Union Gen. David Hunter marched from Lexington to Charlottesville.  With Petersburg, Charlottesville, the railroad and the James River Canal under his control, Grant surmised that Richmond (the capital of the Confederacy) would be his for the taking.

Needing to move his Union army to the south side of the James River, where Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army was waiting, Grant devised a plan.  To occupy Lee’s cavalry (and divert his attention from Grant’s ultimate goal), Grant sent Gen. Philip Sheridan and two divisions of cavalry on a raid toward Charlottesville, with instructions to destroy as much of the Virginia Central Railroad as possible (until “every rail on the road destroyed should be so bent and twisted as to make it impossible to repair…”).  Once united with Hunter in Charlottesville, the two would move on Richmond from the west while Grant approached from the south.  Were his plan to succeed, Grant knew that Lee’s supply lines from the deep South and the Shenandoah Valley would be severed, perhaps leading to a surrender.


On June 7, 1864, Sheridan led his two cavalry divisions (about 9,200 men) on a 60 mile march along the North Anna River, with plans to destroy the Virginia Central Railroad six miles west of the Louisa Court House at Trevilian Station, a stop on the Virginia Central Railroad.  Lee got wind of Sheridan’s move and sent the cavalry divisions (6,700 men) of Generals Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee in pursuit two days later.  Traveling by a shorter route than that used by Sheridan, Hampton reached the Trevilian area on June 10, one day ahead of the Union column.

Early on June 11th, Hampton’s cavalry division engaged Sheridan’s division near Trevilian Station while Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry division encountered General George A. Custer’s brigade on the Louisa Court House road.  Lee’s men nearly had Custer surrounded before Sheridan arrived late in the afternoon to help.  Lee was forced to pull back, separating him from Hampton, which Custer was able to exploit.  Custer captured more than 800 horses and 3 caissons from Lee.


On June 12th, however, the fortunes were reversed.  In what would become an all-day slugfest, Hampton and Lee dismounted their troops and drew a defensive line across the railroad and the road to Gordonsville.  From this strategic position, they fought back several intense and bloody dismounted assaults.  By nightfall, and with his ammunition quickly depleting, Sheridan withdrew his forces to rejoin the Army of the Potomac, though not before he had destroyed nearly six miles of the Virginia Central Railroad.

Hampton’s decisive victory over Sheridan at Trevilian Station was crucial, for, had he lost, General Robert E. Lee and his whole army would have been without supplies.  Lee, in fact, was able to stay in Petersburg for nearly a year longer due to Hampton’s preservation of this supply line.  A month after the Trevilians battle, Lee requested that Hampton be promoted to permanent command of the cavalry corp.

The victory came at a high cost, as both sides suffered heavy losses.  Not only was the Battle of Trevilian Station the largest all-cavalry battle of the Civil War, it was also one of the bloodiest.  Sheridan lost nearly 1,000 men, while Hampton lost more than eight hundred.  Following the battle, many of the wounded men were cared for in nearby homes.  The Exchange Hotel in Gordonsville was transformed into a Confederate receiving hospital, while the Oakland Cemetery in Louisa and the Maplewood Cemetery near Gordonsville serve as the final resting place for many of the fallen soldiers.

What Is It:

An authentic, live historic re-enactment of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Trevilian Station.

What To Do While There:

Exciting cavalry battles and drills, infantry battles, a magnificent parade of carriages, home tours, living history demonstrations, a field hospital, and lots of entertainment.  There will be nearly 4,000 re-enactors from across the United States and more than 1,500 visitors are expected.  Absolutely appropriate for the entire family.


Saturday, June 21st and Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Location (less than 2 miles from Prospect Hill):

Bracketts Farm (an historic farm dating to the late 18th century and lying in the heart of the Green Springs National Historic District).

How To Get There:

From Interstate 64 near Charlottesville, take Exit 136.  Go towards Gordonsville (north) on US-15 (James Madison Highway).  Follow this road for 2.4 miles and turn right onto East Jack Jouett Road (this is a well-maintained gravel road) and go about 1 mile.  Make a sharp left turn onto Rt. 638 (Nolting Road).  Drive about ¾ mile to Brackets Farm.


There is a minimal admission fee (the amount is currently undecided) payable as you enter the parking lot.  Parking is plentiful (it is, after all, a farm), but be prepared to walk.

Food / Vendors:

Several vendors will offer “county fair” type food and drinks for sale.  Other vendors typically include homemade crafts, pies, jams & jellies, blacksmith demonstrations, and sutlers (selling Civil War clothing, books, etc).


Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • Gates open to public:  9:00 am
  • Camps open to public:  10:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Cavalry Battle:  11:00 am
  • Parade of Carriages:  12:30 to 1:30pm
  • Infantry Battle:  2:00 pm
  • Evening Ball (Re-enactors & VIP’s only)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • Church Service (no drills during services)
  • Camps open to public:  10:00 am
  • Cavalry Battle:  1:30 pm

What Else You Should Know:

Pre-registration for re-enactors is only $20 and includes the Saturday and Sunday battles, historic trail rides (riders who arrive early can depart Bracketts Farm on Friday morning at 11:00 am and will take a 3 – 4 hour ride through the historic Green Springs area), potable water, 1 bale of hay (per horse), fixed watering sites for horses, campsites (Confederate and Union separated, of course!), veterinarian (on-call or on-site), farrier (on-call or on-site), trash receptacles, and emergency personnel on site (during battles).  Download re-enactor registration form here.

Official Website:

The official website of the Battle of Trevilian Station is here.

Where To Stay:

Now that you know the fascinating history of the Battle of Trevilian Station and the upcoming reenactment, it’s time to plan your trip.  We invite you to stay with us at Prospect Hill Plantation Inn on our authentic 1700′s plantation complex.  A most unique country inn,  we specialize secluded getaways and superb four-course fine dining (on Friday & Saturday evenings)… all just moments away from historic Charlottesville (and only 2 miles from the Trevilian re-enactment battlefield).  Secluded on a 40 acre Southern plantation essentially as it existed in 1732, our bed and breakfast cottages offer a rustic, yet refined hideaway (with air conditioning, private baths, working fireplaces, full breakfast-in-bed, and whirlpool tubs).  Children, dogs (and horses) are welcome with well-behaved adults!

All You Need To Know About The Tom Tom Founders Festival

If you’re anxiously awaiting the next TED Conference, or you  find yourself inspired by innovation, block parties, concerts, competitions, and creative expositions, then perhaps you should make your way to Charlottesville, Virginia this coming April 10th – 14th.  The Tom Tom Founders Festival is designed for people just like you. tom tom

Created and hosted by the Tom Tom Foundation, a local not-for-profit that educates the public about innovation and entrepreneurship, the Tom Tom Founders Festival will inspire, energize, entertain, challenge, and most of all… change you.  Proceeds from this event create grants for the production and display of public art.

The Tom Tom Founders Festival will host numerous events, including…

Artists in Residence:

Every year in Charlottesville, Tom Tom hosts Artists in Residence which showcases specific artists who are working on public art in the community, or causing the public to engage with creative ideas.

Tom Talks

Tom Talks:

Some two dozen speakers at the Tom Talks will explore innovative ideas about education, technology, entrepreneurship, and leadership… with many of the themes emerging from The University of Virginia, the Charlottesville community, and beyond.  Each of these 10-minute talks will delve into cutting-edge research and reveal new ways of thinking and experiencing the world.  As a twist, each of the speakers is local to Charlottesville, and many of the trends covered are emerging in Charlottesville.


Tom Tom is a local and “friends of friends” festival, with more than 60 musical acts (almost all free) representing a broad swath of genres, including folk, hip-hop, Americana, electronica, R&B, rock, bluegrass, funk, and more.  In addition, the venues are as unique as the artists, including historic schools, parks, art museums, library steps, and micro-breweries.

$10,000 Pitch Competition:

Creatives pitch.  Judges critique.  YOU decide!  This crowd-sourced pitch night for creative artists, entrepreneurs of any kind, innovators, amateurs, professionals and enthusiasts just may produce the next big idea in Charlottesville, or the world!Tom Pitch

Everyone chips in $10, which buys entry and a vote to cast toward the winning idea. You’ll hear 10 quality ideas that need funding and the crowd decides who they want to support.  This all takes place at the ground-breaking i.Lab at U.Va, a unique community-facing incubator that is pioneering how business schools can interact with the community and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in a City.

The pitches represent all Charlottesville and folks doing cool, innovative things here, and need that live kick-start to make things happen!

Tom Yum:

Tom Yum is a community food festival based in the heart of downtown and celebrating food innovators at the Charlottesville City Market.  In 2011, Forbes named Charlottesville the “locavore capital of the world.” During Tom Yum, come meet the farmers, chefs, artisans, and pioneers in sustainable food and see what all the fuss is about. Tom Yum

Play with your food. Learn about your food. And eat your food. It’s a day of hands-on workshops, food talks, culinary demos, and tastings. Try your hand at market-scene sketching and games. Revel in the sights and sounds of live bluegrass and classical music in a parking lot transformed into a pop-up park.

Grab your groceries at the market, participate in the arts and music at Tom Yum, and stick around for the Food Talks. This event is totally free and designed for the whole family. Bring an appetite, a sketchbook, and plan to stay a while.

 The Galant Challenge:

The Galant Challenge is an annual event that caps the entrepreneurial sprint at UVA. This is not a business plan competition. It’s not a mock “pitch” exercise. It is a REAL pitch event in which student teams convince real investors they deserve capital to launch their businesses!

There’s no “winner.” There’s no prize money. But the check-books are out from real angel investors and venture capitalists, and up to $250,000 is on the line to invest real money for seed equity in the startup.

In the Tom Tom Wildcard, the ten semi-finalists will pitch their ideas, and get feedback from a panel of judges. Three finalists will be chosen, two by the judges and one by the crowd, to convene at the end of April in the finals.

2014 Tom Tom Founders Festival:

So here are the details:  It’s all taking place between April 10th and 14th, 2014  at more than 50 venues throughout Charlottesville, Virginia.  Almost everything is free, but some events require registration (due to space limitations).  If you want, you can register here.

As the venues are spread throughout downtown, the parking situation varies.   Charlottesville offers plenty of parking, just plan on having to walk a bit.  The attire for most events is casual, but our weather in April weather can be unpredictable (bring a light jacket).

Numerous sponsors make the Tom Tom Founders Festival possible, such as Skyline Tent Company, R.L. Beyer Custom Homebuilders, Relay Foods, Wild Wolf Brewing Company, McGuffey Art Center, ArcheMedX, WTJU 91.1 FM, 106.1 The Corner, Festive Fare, SNL Financial,, Piedmont Council For the Arts, Perrone Robotics, Rimm-Kaufman Group, Biovista, Royer Caramanis & McDonough, Cardagin, Blue Ridge Bank, WNRN, Union First Market Bank, AIA Central Virginiaand Photo Works Group.

Now that you know all about the Tom Tom Festival, it’s time to plan your trip.  We invite you to stay with us at Prospect Hill Plantation Inn Nestled on the outskirts of Charlottesville,  our unique bed & breakfast boasts an authentic Southern plantation complex essentially as it existed in 1732.  Escape to one of our original plantation cottages, long-since transformed into your own rustic, yet refined hideaway. Secluded on 40 acres, the magic of our romantic bed and breakfast invites you to linger, to breathe, and to slow your pace to that of another era.  Click here to view our accommodations.

Others dream about doing this. We did it. Here we go…


Its our first day as the newest owners of Prospect Hill Plantation Inn.

We awoke to discover the electricity was out in more than half of the plantation; Later, we checked-out our first guest (and got him to autograph a one-dollar bill);  We then spent seven hours at the attorney’s office; Finally, we returned to Prospect Hill, only to discover that a “mini-tornado” had toppled two, huge century-old trees.

All in all, not too bad for our first day!