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.