Each spring, visitors are welcomed to over 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks during The Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week. This 8-day statewide event provides visitors a unique opportunity to see unforgettable gardens at the peak of Virginia’s springtime color, as well as beautiful houses sparkling with over 2,000 flower arrangements created by Garden Club of Virginia members.
Locally, Albemarle-Charlottesville Historic Garden Week events will be held April 23-25, hosted by the Charlottesville Garden Club, Rivanna Garden Club and Albemarle Garden Club. On Sunday, April 24, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors can tour five private properties in the picturesque, secluded neighborhood of Flordon a few miles west of Charlottesville. The Flordon tour is available only via shuttle, with offsite parking at the University of Virginia Foundation, which is located on the grounds of the Boar’s Head Inn. Parking is not permitted at the houses or on the roads in Flordon. The last shuttle departing for tours is at 4:15 p.m.
Many consider the local tour the cornerstone of this three-day experience—but a revered aspect of the Albemarle-Charlottesville tour occurs on the days preceding and following the local tour. On Saturday, April 23, Morven Estate House and Gardens, now owned by the University of Virginia, will be open to visitors. The tour begins at 10 a.m. and concludes at 5 p.m., weather permitting. On Monday, April 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the University of Virginia will open with no admission charge many areas of special note. These include Pavilion gardens and homes, Carr’s Hill and the Morea Garden and Arboretum. A lecture on the Morven estate as a learning laboratory will be offered on Monday afternoon at the Harrison Institute.
Tour proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s Historic Gardens and Virginia State Parks. See www.vagardenweek.org for pricing and complete schedule information and visit “Historic Garden Week in Charlottesville & Albemarle” on Facebook.
Here, we offer a preview of what’s in store on Sunday’s local tour in Flordon.
Built in 1938, this stone Georgian home with formal and informal gardens was designed by Marshall Wells, who also designed Westminster Church in Charlottesville. An azalea-lined drive circles in front of the arched front entrance, which is surrounded by hellebores, epimedium and mature chestnut and pin oaks. The interior of the home features beautiful woodwork, arched doorways and large French doors that open onto the terraces and gardens. Charles Gillette designed the original landscape, but much of it has been changed through the years. The azalea garden with vistas to a neighboring farm remains the most true to his design. Stone pathways lead to a boxwood garden, an azalea garden, and a water feature surrounded by white azaleas. A slate pathway scattered with bleeding heart and shade plantings leads to a secluded swimming pool surrounded by tall trees. Just outside the kitchen door is a chef’s garden filled with a variety of herbs and vegetables, including lettuce, kale, collards, spinach and mixed greens. The path beyond the chef’s garden meanders past daffodils, lilies of the valley, rhododendrons and Japanese maples to a guesthouse. This home was open for Historic Garden Week in 1968.
Built in 1961 and extensively updated by the current owners, this home sits atop a ridge offering spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The landscape includes numerous gardens, courtyards, pergolas and terraces featuring a variety of plantings including lace-leaf Japanese maples, lilacs, roses, salvia, daffodils, tulips, boxwoods, azaleas, dogwoods and pieris japonica. A stone and crushed-gravel parking courtyard provides a welcoming entrance. A recently updated chef’s kitchen connects to a family room with an enormous fireplace that was part of the original kitchen. An exposed brick sunroom opens on to a large terrace with outdoor fireplace and an outdoor kitchen, which overlooks a reflecting pool centered by a heron sculpture designed by Charlottesville native Caroline Hanson. Across the sprawling lawn is a stone pool house with a seating area and wet bar. Pool plantings feature succulents, boxwoods and large containers. The putting green offers mountain vistas. Mary Anne and Stephen Burns, owners.
This classic Dutch Colonial has been extensively updated by the current owners. The sun-drenched, eclectic interior includes animal motifs intermingled with the owner’s collection of American folk art, 18th- and 19th-century painted furniture, and decorative arts. Relics and whimsical touches fill every corner, including a tall-case Whiting clock, a smokehouse cupboard, a collection of Hannah Davis bandboxes and other early wooden bride’s boxes. The dining room features an antique salvaged table, a New England highboy, a Portsmouth chest and a collection of American Windsor chairs. Significant 19th-century quilts grace the first-floor rooms. A large family room with slate floor opens to a backyard filled with azaleas, rhododendrons, tree hydrangeas, Japanese maples and ferns. Steps from the patio lead up to a swimming pool surrounded by magnolias and a collection of vintage birdhouses, dovecotes and cupolas, all guarded by a large 1860s cast-iron garden sculpture of a retriever. Additional sculptures are tucked into the surrounding gardens. Daisy and David Moga, owners.
Set among mature, tall trees, this informal garden combines plantings in a landscape designed for children to run and play. From the wooded, circular driveway, a pachysandra-lined path leads past daffodils and azaleas to the backyard. The back deck creates natural views toward a shaded woodland garden with wood poppies, bleeding hearts, azaleas, dogwoods, hellebores, ferns, jack-in-the-pulpits, oakleaf hydrangeas, and Japanese maples. The sun-drenched lower level features a formal boxwood garden with climbing roses on trellises placed above a deer’s reach of the blooms. Doublefile viburnums bloom at the end of the boxwood garden. A children’s playground is nestled in the back corner of the yard with landscaping offering an abundance of places to play hide and seek among the tall trees and lush shrubbery. Mr. and Mrs. David Granville, owners.
This stately residence is an example of gracious living with young children. The circular drive features views to the east and enhances a painted brick house with an entrance surrounded by tulip poplars, narcissi, pieris japonica, and a shade garden of hellebores, hostas, and a variety of ferns. A Chippendale-style balustrade caps the front entry. Built in 1962, the home was significantly updated in 2006 and 2011. The interior features the owner’s sketches of her children, unusual light fixtures, and elegant mirrors. The large gourmet kitchen opens to a window-lined family room with fireplace and a sitting area leading to a screened porch with slate floor and outdoor fireplace. Plantings around the back porch include Korean spice viburnum, boxwoods, deutzia, candytuft, fothergillas, Arnold Promise witch hazel and hydrangeas. A grove of tulip poplars lines the spacious back lawn, offering plenty of room for children to run and play. Crepe myrtles, roses, tulips, and a variety of herbs and vegetables in planters surround the outdoor terrace. Various recreational areas for children include swings and a half-court basketball court.