Coinciding with the peak of Virginia’s springtime color, the 89th Annual Virginia’s 2017 Garden Week (April 22 – 29, 2017) offers a rare opportunity to visit Virginia’s most gracious homes and lavish, hidden gardens. This 8-day, statewide event showcases more than two hundred fifty unforgettable gardens and beautiful houses sparkling with over 2,300 fabulous flower arrangements created by more than 3,400 Garden Club of Virginia volunteers, representing 47 different statewide garden clubs.
Since its beginning in 1929, Historic Garden Week has raised more than 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 38 separate tours throughout Virginia over eight consecutive days. Known as “America’s Largest Open House”, it is the largest ongoing volunteer effort in Virginia.
Virginia’s 2017 Garden Week – Charlottesville Area
The rich cultural heritage of Thomas Jefferson’s era is on display in the Charlottesville area’s portion of 2017 Historic Garden Week, as several buildings on the tour reflect the influence of Jefferson’s classical architectural ideals, and several of the featured properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Morven. A majestic three-story brickmanor 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.
Virgnia’s 2017 Garden Week – Orange County
Highlighting three Greek Revival style private homes, as well as Spotswood Lodge and the Market at Grelen, this home-focused tour notes the evolution of farming and architecture along the Spotswood Trail near James Madison’s Montpelier. Learn more here. Tickets include admission to the following four properties:
- Merriewood – The original section is a brick house built in 1856 by Major William A. Jennings, who built many houses in the area.
- Edgewood Miller Farm – Built by William F. Brooking in 1852 and constructed by Jennings, this brick house is two stories over an English basement, all overlooking 243 acres.
- Spotswood Lodge – Set on an 11-acre property with a pond in front, the traditionally styled main house has been added onto multiple times but the exact date of construction is unknown (the original one-over-one likely dates to the late 1700s).
- Monteith – The two-story, hipped roof home retains most of the original Greek Revival woodwork, including the marbleized mantels. Noteworthy is the “maiden staircase” which prevented slaves from entering the front of the house; they had to enter through a door that led to the roof.
Virginia’s 2017 Garden Week – Charlottesville’s Ridge Road Area
Beginning at the Foxfield parking area, this is a shuttle-only tour (no parking at individual properties). The last shuttle departs the parking area at 5:00 pm. The following five propereties are included on this tour:
- Southfield (Garden Only) – The gardens on Southfield’s twenty acres offer a plethora of unique trees, shrubs and perennials. The extensive informal woodland gardens are augmented by a formal walled parterre garden and innumerable pots and tropicals that extend summer interest.
- Choill Mhor – Named “great woods” in Gaelic, this English Country Manor home, set on fifty acres just off Garth Road, boasts a fabulous view of the Blue Ridge mountains from the front door straight through to the back of the house. A shade garden filled with ferns and spring ephemerals and many varieties of Bleeding Hearts flourishes under an old oak tree while a pollinator garden blooms all summer under the large oak to the west.
- Midway – With extensive Blue Ridge Mountain views, Midway features a farmhouse that dates back to the early 19th century. At the time, Midway was a prosperous hemp, flax and tobacco plantation. Interesting architectural features of the house, dominated by a long two-story gallery, include Flemish-bond brickwork on the façade of the east wing, the mouse-tooth cornice and stepped parapets with corbeled shoulders.
- The Laing House – This debut property is a Georgian-influenced “American Country Home”, custom built in 2007. The painted grey brick house with shake shingle roof overlooks the Moorman’s River. Each light-filled room takes full advantage of the extensive western views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as do the swimming pool and surrounding gardens.
- Fox Ridge – Set on 280 acres with extensive Blue Ridge Mountain views, Fox Ridge is an active equestrian farm. Along the tree-lined driveway is Quaker Cottage, the central portion of which is a log cabin that dates back to the 1800s. Next is a small cemetery with two graves from 1797, nine unmarked graves, and a Williamsburg-inspired garden. Other gardens on the property include a boxwood parterre garden, a vegetable garden, and a boxwood allee with flowering bulbs and shrubs.
Virginia’s 2017 Garden Week – The 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.
- Pavilion Gardens
Restored by the Garden Club of Virginia in 1947, the University’s Pavilion Gardens and their surrounding serpentine walls were part of Jefferson’s Academical Village (also on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register). Research on the history of the gardens is currently underway. For more information, click here.
- Pavilion Homes on the East Lawn and the Edgar Allan Poe Room
West Range Room 13, known as the Edgar Allan Poe Room, will also be open. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) was a student for one year at the University of Virginia, a year after it opened in 1825. The University’s Raven Society maintains Poe’s room in recognition of his time there.
- The Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History (2:00 pm)
Special presentation in the Auditorium – “Thomas Jefferson’s Rotunda: Beginning its Third Century.” The reopening of the newly-renovated Rotunda in the fall of 2016 has garnered widespread international attention. The heart of the University of Virginia’s Academical Village, it is also the centerpiece of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Two members of the Office of the University Architect will provide an insider’s look at the process of planning, implementation and construction of this ten-year long project. Public spaces in The Rotunda will be open for viewing. Look here for more information.
What Is It:
An 8-day statewide tour of nearly 200 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 numerous historic properties.
Dates / Schedule (for Charlottesville Area tours):
- Morven Estate: Saturday, April 22nd, 2017. 10 am – 5 pm
- Orange County: Saturday, April 22nd, 2017. 10 am – 5 pm
- Ridge Road Area: Sunday, April 23rd, 2017. 10 am – 6 pm
- University of Virginia: Monday, April 24th, 2017. 10 am – 5 pm
Locations / Admission Fees:
- Morven Estate ($15 pp.) – 791 Morven Drive, Charlottesville 22902
- Orange County ($35 pp.) – Grelen Market, 15091 Yager Rd, Somerset 22972
- Ridge Road Area ($50 pp.) – 2215 Foxfield Track, Charlottesville 22901
- University of Virginia (free) – 400 Emmet Street, Charlottesville 22903
Tour ticket prices vary by location and range from $15 – $50 per tour. Advance tickets can be purchased online here or at various local outlets. Tickets are also available at each tour location (or starting point) on the day of the event (not all locations accept credit cards).
What Else You Should Know:
This is a driving tour of properties throughout the Charlottesville and Central Virginia 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.
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).
The website for the Virginia’s 2017 Garden Week is here.
Where to Stay:
Our Inn sparkles like a jewel during the Spring, so as you plan your trip to visit the Charlottesville portion of Virginia’s 2017 Garden Week, 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.