Tuesday, July 25, 2017  

Garden Week in the Middle Peninsula & Northern Neck
Historic Garden Week in our Area  

Green Pastures & Blue Waters

Historic Garden Week in Essex County

The tiny port town of Tappahannock, established in 1682, was one of the early ports along the eastern seacoast of Colonial Virginia. Captain John Smith met Native Americans here. Rappahannock is a Native American word for “rising and falling waters”; thus, the name of the river. It follows that early residents in 1682 chose to name their village Tappahannock meaning “place of rising and falling waters.”

Situated along historic streets, four of the six homes will be open for the first time. This a walking tour in the town of five of the homes and a drive of only four miles out of town to Mahockney, a 17th century planter’s home. To add a special dimension to this tour, The River Country Artists will stage an exhibit and sale at the corner of Prince Street and Water Lane.

MAHOCKNEY, 5328 Mt. Landing Road
Visitors may like to visit Mahockney, just out of town, at the beginning or end of the tour of homes in the historic heart of the town. It is an example of an early planter’s home. Built by Robert Tomlin on land patented in 1663, it is located at the headwaters of Mount Landing Creek. It takes its name from a Native American word “mahawg” meaning gourd. Early settlers grew gourds for their domestic use such as serving as a ladle beside oaken buckets at the well. Tomlin traded with Native Americans and hid 70 of them with their corn during the Bacon’s Rebellion. Massive chimneys at each end of the house are an important feature of the structure as is the story-and-a-half frame section.

Built in 1820 the two-story addition features heart pine flooring, Cross and Bible doors and a paneled stairway. At this time William Latane enclosed the original frame house with Flemish bond brick on the east and west and with three-to-one common brick on the north. In the 20th century the owners placed an addition on the rear. There are seven fireplaces. On the outside several dependencies, perennial gardens, shrubs, trees and a stocked pond grace the stately grounds. Open for the first time by Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Shepherd.

LITTLE EGYPT, Prince Street
The first of two homes on Prince Street, Little Egypt, built c.1750, was a farm house on 211 acres. Its unusually fertile soil is responsible for its name. Today its one acre sustains mature shrubbery and cedar trees planted in the 1800s and a planned garden. The house is essentially unchanged with exterior walls and windows in place.

Features of early construction include sawn lumber with wrought iron nails, rafters joined with wooden pegs, heart pine flooring and Cross and Bible design doors in the front hall. Twelve original windows remain. Contemporary paintings and a 2006 kitchen blend into the colonial fabric of the home.

In recent years former owner Ted Rice built a barn using hand-hewn lumber reclaimed from fallen trees. Hand-wrought ironwork by John Lytell decorates the upstairs stairway. The current owners have created a library with soaring shelves and an upstairs sitting-workroom with the help of local craftsman Gorden Wilkins. Open for the first time for Historic Garden Week by owners David Henderson and Wesley E. Pippenger.

Meriwether-Ritchie is the second house on Prince Street. It is believed to be the oldest structure in Tappahannock. It was built in 1706 by Thomas Meriwether and purchased in 1768 by Archibald Ritchie, a prominent Scots merchant. The original complex is depicted in a contemporary mural by local artist Karin Andrews that Alexander F Dillard, Jr., a direct descendant of Ritchie, commissioned for the newly renovated building. In pre-Revolutionary days, Richard Henry Lee with 400 men confronted Ritchie here and demanded that he not use the hated stamps levied on the planters by the British. The house was the home of Thomas Ritchie, founder of the Richmond Enquirer who, with cousins Spencer Roane, first Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court and Dr. John Brockenbrough, founder of the Bank of Virginia and builder of the White House of the Confederacy was a member of the powerful “Essex Junto.” Paneling from the original structure was removed to Winterthur Museum in Delaware.

In 1975, A. Fleet Dillard and his son purchased the structure and began its restoration. The five front dormers were built after Meriwether’s original plans. The rear dormers are original. A chimney was added after the eastern one-third of the building was constructed. The building serves as law offices for Dillard and Katona. Open for the first time by owner Alexander F. Dillard, Jr.

, 203 Duke Street
Two blocks off Route 17 on Duke Street, the Roane-Wright-Trible House is characterized by its Greek Revival style white stucco over brick with a full English basement. It was built in 1851 by Dr. Lawrence Roane. The ceilings on the first floor are 12 feet high and the ceilings on the second floor are 10 feet high. The house has original heart floor pine flooring and all the interior and exterior doors have original hardware. All the windows are original and have double-hung six-over-six sashes except the basement windows which have three-over-three sashes. Additions such as bathrooms and closets have been added.

Its four chimneys support a fireplace in each of its 12 rooms. A two-story structure in the rear was built as servants’ quarters. The original front and back porches have fluted columns. The front door, with sidelights and a handsome upper transom opens onto a wide center hallway. Mature boxwood and hardwoods surround the stately structure. Subsequent owners include Dr. Felix and Mary Wilson in the 1940s and 50s, William Austin and Elizabeth Warner Trible 1966-2001 and Kelly and John Owen Gwathmey, who after renovation, opened it as The Essex Inn. Open for the first time by owners Eugene and Mary Jane Cook.

ST. MARGARET’S HALL, 444 Water Lane
There are two houses on Water Lane, St. Margaret’s Hall and McCall-Brockenbrough House. St. Margaret’s Hall is the academic center of St. Margaret’s School, an Episcopal boarding school for girls founded in 1921 by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. The house was built in the1840s in Greek Revival style with English basement by Dr. Thomas C. Gordon.

The floors on the first and second floors are wide heart pine. A Palladin window dominates the stair landing. Its exterior chimneys support 12 fireplaces. A high one-story porch with fluted Greek columns faces Water Lane. A two-story porch with square vernacular columns overlooks the Rappahannock River. Large crape myrtles and dogwoods surround the high porch. The day of the tour refreshments will be served between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The other house on Water Lane, the Mccall-Brockenbrough House, was built c.1763 by a wealthy merchant. The elaborate woodwork inside is equal to that of the region’s great Colonial homes. The floors are wide heart pine. The house was both the scene of a demonstration against the Stamp Act in 1766 and a target for British artillery in the War of 1812. Legend holds that the closed fireplace in the cellar is a passageway to the river used by smugglers to avoid customs inspectors.

Thomas Brockenbrough purchased the house at auction in 1811. It remained in the family for many years. The family served the country in many capacities as member of the House of Delegates, physician to the Virginia Navy and president of the Bank of Virginia. The John Peyton McGuires also lived in the house. The Rev. McGuire is known for reviving the post-Revolution Episcopal Church in the region. Mrs. McGuire conducted the Academy for Young Ladies. St. Margaret’s School purchased the home from Virginia Supreme Court Justice Joseph W. Chinn. Currently owned by St. Margaret’s School, it is listed in both the Virginia Landmarks and National Register of Historic Places.

Tappahannock has preserved places that reflect the past. There is a nineteenth century court house and clerk’s office, a debtor’s prison, a tiny Confederate cemetery behind the Essex County Museum and Historical Society as well as the 19th cemetery adjacent to St. John’s Episcopal Church on Duke Street. At its center there are distinctive, varied shops and restaurants. Fast food chains are located along Route 17. St. Margaret’s School for girls is situated on the banks of the Rappahannock River overlooking the Downing Bridge which connects the Middle Peninsula to the Northern Neck.

At the corner of Prince Street and Water Lane, River Country Artists, who are artists from the Northern Neck and Essex County, will stage an exhibit and sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be paintings in acrylic, water color and oil.

To reach the tour area drive north along Route 17 from Newport News or Williamsburg, or South on Route 17 from Fredericksburg. Drive along Route 360 East from Richmond, Tappahannock sits at the intersection of the two routes.

Advance tickets can be purchased before April 15 for $25.00 by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope with a check made out to GCMP to Elizabeth Randy Brown, P.O. Box 2764, Tappahannock VA 22560. They may be purchased via the internet by accessing www.VAGardenweek.org. No refunds. Tickets are available on the day of the tour for $30.00 Single admission is $15.00.

Lunches will be available at the many restaurants and fast food chains. Picnicking will be allowed on the grounds of St Margaret’s School, 444 Water Lane, overlooking the Rappahannock River, at the Meriwether-Richie House at 229 Prince Street, and at Mahockney on Mt. Landing Road. Also complimentary refreshments will be served from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at St Margaret’s Hall. Comfort stations will be available at all homes.

 - By contributing writers, Ruby Lee Norris and Marty Taylor

A Bird's Eye View

Gloucester Couty, Virginia

Springtime is the perfect season to visit Gloucester and Mathews for the 78th Historic Garden Week on April 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Garden Club of Gloucester will present “A Bird’s Eye View” in Gloucester and Mathews Counties, two historic counties with over 350 miles of beautiful shoreline where most roads lead to water.

Four beautiful and unique waterfront homes will open for the first time on four separate bodies of water off the Chesapeake Bay. Colorful drifts of daffodils and tulips, blooming azaleas and dogwood, magnificent gardens and outstanding water views await visitors on this tour.

Featured homes and gardens on the 2011 tour will be “Clovelly” on the Piankatank River, “Sweetgrass” on the Severn River, “Creek House” on Pepper Creek and “Gum Thicket” on Gwynn’s Island. Visitors will be awed and inspired by rich architecture, numerous outbuildings, impressive collections of art and antiques, dazzling water vistas, and splendid landscapes.
CLOVELLY, 1081 Holland Point Road, Dutton, VA 23050
Nestled among mature native trees on a bluff high above the Piankatank River, this gracious house was built on acreage once owned by botanist John Clayton (1694–1773) where cultivars of his botanical garden still grow. The Paits’ 10-acre property was named for a town in Devon, England, located atop a similar bluff. A brick pathway leads toward the single-story home, constructed in 1978, through sweeps of liriope and a foundation of white blooming camellias and gardenias. Gallery halls flank the foyer opening to the kitchen and guest wing on one end and the master suite and study on the other. Across the expansive living area, sliding French doors open to a glassed-in porch overlooking brick terraces and pool with commanding views of the river. Family antiques include a 1928 Steinway Grand piano, a nine-foot Tiffany Grandfather clock, English hunting bars, German music box, and an antique silver collection.

Outside is a renovated two-bedroom guesthouse. The gardens, designed by local landscaper Denise Greene, include a potager, rose garden, butterfly garden, grape and kiwi arbor, and woodland walk featuring native plants and wild orchids. Allow time to stroll to the gazebo, down to the water, and then visit the two-story playhouse. Open for the first time. Wheelchair-accessible. Owners are Mr. and Mrs. Henry T. Pait.

SWEETGRASS, 5523 Osprey Lane, Gloucester, VA 23061
Sweetgrass epitomizes the Low Country charm of the Deep South on the outside, but inside this theme merges seamlessly with the sophisticated style and the serenity of life on the rivers of Virginia. The entrance brings immediate attention to the three arched, floor-to-ceiling windows and a splendid view of the marshes and the Severn River.

The house was built in 2007, in a style reminiscent of homes in Charleston, South Carolina, where Mrs. Howard was raised. The name “Sweetgrass” refers to the South Carolina grasses used to weave the distinctive Charleston baskets, a few of which are on display. Collections of porcelain, antiques and fine art are abundant, thanks to Mrs. Howard’s mother, who sought out treasures for more than 50 years in Charleston, a city filled with Chinese export dishes and other finds. Mrs. Howard’s flair for design, color and use of space is evident everywhere, yet she is careful not to upstage views of the river enjoyed from almost every room. Open for the first time. Owners are Dr. and Mrs. Vaughan Howard.

CREEK HOUSE, 377 Pepper Creek Lane, Susan, VA 23163
Enter through the white gates and pass the guest cottage, pool and pool house on your right. Renovations date from 1995, when an expansion of the living quarters and upgrade of the amenities were accomplished within horizontal extensions to the simple waterman’s “two-over-two,” originally built c. 1900. Subsequently, the house was raised onto a handsome brick foundation, kitchen updated, and extensive decking and several porches added. This inviting property contains an interesting original wooden “cold house” for receipt of ice and dairy products.

Offering water views on three sides, the main house faces south out of Pepper Creek into the Mobjack Bay, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay at New Point Lighthouse. Comfortable furnishings include many Southern country pieces, several reflecting the esteem held for the locally famous daffodil. Collections abound throughout the interior: pond boats, miniature furniture, oyster dinnerware, door knockers, doorstops, festival posters, spatterware and mounted textiles ranging from seat pads to an important table rug made by a whaling ship’s captain for his wife, c. 1850. The grounds are simply planted and along the waterfront are three contemporary wind sculptures. Open for the first time.

GUM THICKET, 1071 Gum Thicket Road, Gwynn’s Island, VA 23066
Classical themes, informed contemporary design, innovative materials, eco-technology and the owners’ extensive collection of global art all meet in Gum Thicket, completed in 2008. Familiar themes of Tidewater architecture, including brick, stone and a copper roof, welcome visitors. An even richer experience lies within. The first-floor walls are glass panels, encompassing a “Revival Pavilion” opening fully to the outside and a spectacular three-quarter view of the water. Green technology is evident throughout, including passive cooling, radiant heat, recycled glass counters and bamboo flooring, yet this remarkable house is designed to withstand a Category IV hurricane.

The owners’ travels and wide-ranging interests in art and artifacts are apparent in their home. Not only do artworks adorn its walls, but they define much of its very structure. Among these highlights are pieces from Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

The towering painting over the fireplace is by 86-year-old South African artist Brian Bradshaw. The painting at the top of the stairs is by Peter Hurd, once an apprentice of N.C. Wyeth, but now famous in his own right. The dining table is of Indonesian teak and weighs nearly one thousand pounds. The sleek, open kitchen is by Italian design firm Snaidero. Open for the first time by owners Quartel and Michela English.

Tickets, map and brochure are available at each home and at headquarters, Long Bridge Ordinary, 6805 Main Street, Gloucester Courthouse, VA 23061, an 18th century building located at the junction of Business Rte. 17 and Rte. 14.

Tickets are $30 on tour day and $25 in advance at Twice Told Tales Bookstore, 6658 Main St., Gloucester; at Specials, 68 S. Main St., Kilmarnock; at Cattails Gifts, 10744 Buckley Hall Rd., Mathews; and Green Gates Gifts, 1467 George Washington Memorial Hwy (US 17N), Gloucester Point. Advance tickets can also be ordered by mail from Mrs. William DuPaul, P.O. Box 42, Ware Neck, VA 23178, (804) 693-6742, waresjaye@aol.com. Send check for $25 per ticket, plus $1.50 for postage and handling payable to Garden Club of Gloucester by Saturday, April 2. For Internet tickets, please access www.VAGardenweek.org. For all Gloucester/Mathews tour details and full directions to each site, visit http://www.vagardenweek.org/schedule-gloucester.php.

A box lunch in Gloucester is available at Short Lane Ice Cream. It must be ordered and pre-paid by Thursday, April 14. Send check for $13.50 per lunch to Short Lane Ice Cream, P.O. Box 115, Ware Neck, VA 23178, (804) 695-2999. A seated luncheon at White Dog Inn in Mathews is by reservation only by Tuesday, April 12, $24, (804) 725-7680.

Other points of interest on the tour are Rosewell, c. 1725, impressive ruins of birthplace of Gov. John Page, burned in 1916; Short Lane Ice Cream, c. 1937, once a post office, country store and Texaco gas station; Gloucester Mathews Humane Society, celebrating its 100th anniversary in a state of the art new facility; Zion Poplars Baptist Church, c. 1894, first independent Baptist Church built by and for African-Americans, Virginia Landmarks site; Gloucester Historic Court Circle, Main Street, Gloucester Courthouse; The Gloucester Museum of History, c. 1770, on the Historic Court Circle; Gwynn’s Island Museum, depicting history of the island, Gwynn’s Island; Tompkins Cottage, c. 1815, Mathews Court House, general store owned by father of Capt. Sally Tompkins, first woman to be commissioned an officer in the Confederate Army.

Westmoreland County

The Historic, The Traditional and The Gracious

The Garden Club of Virginia and the Garden Club of the Northern Neck will be hosting the annual tour in historic Westmoreland County on April 20th this year. Entitled, “The Historic, The Traditional and The Gracious, Westmoreland County” the tour encompasses two areas of the region. Three distinct homes are highlighted in the southern end of the county. They include a traditional Northern Neck farmhouse, Afton; an authentically preserved Victorian gem, Mt. Pleasant; and a Greek revival farmhouse, Buena Vista, redone with both traditional and modern amenities in mind.

Two other featured properties in the northern part of the region include the Georgian style Horseshoe Banks, with a landscaped lawn with many varieties of trees, one a Copper Beech species first brought from Europe by Thomas Jefferson in 1810; and Nanzatico, located just over the King George line which, next to Mount Vernon, is probably the most formal frame colonial mansion in Virginia.

Tickets for the one-day event held rain or shine can be purchased in advance for $25 each by contacting Lisa Stuart, 28 Tally-Ho Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22405, telephone: 804-373-0651 or lkstuart5@verizon.net. On the day of the tour tickets can be purchased at each house for $30 for the full tour or $15 single-site admission. Children 6–12 are half-priced and children 5 and under are free.

The information center will be at the Cople Parish House located at 72 Coles Point Road in Hague. There is ample parking available for cars and buses. Box lunches will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a first-come, first-served seating basis. Lunches can be reserved at $15 each by contacting Gin Harris at 804-472-3121 or plainvu@hughes.net. Checks should be made payable to GCNN and reserved by April 6th. Checks can be mailed to: P.O. Box 69, Kinsale, VA 22488.

Open for Historic Garden Week for the first time, Afton, appears from a cedar tree-lined lane off a country road in Hague, and is a charming Greek revival side-hall plan farmhouse built c. 1840. Stately magnolia and a huge tulip poplar tree provide shade for the home which is sited on a slight rise among working crop fields. The home, which is being open for Garden Week for the first time is now owned by Mrs. Lynn Rice Whalen, whose grandfather purchased the 100 acre farm in 1916 on land that was originally patented by Richard Lee I in 1658. Mrs. Whalen’s father, Maj. Gen. W. Thomas Rice, the former Chairman of the Board of CSX Corporation, grew up at Afton and was responsible for adding the immense porch at the rear of the house in the 1970s. An exquisite piano made in Baltimore by the Knabe & Gaehle Company was a wedding gift to Mrs. Whalen’s grandmother from her grandfather. It sits in the entrance hall under the watchful eye of General Rice from his official portrait. Outdoor amenities include a “Northern Neck” tennis court, a formal garden in youthful stages and beautiful mature hardwood trees. (From information Center, turn left and then turn right R. 202, go .02 miles to R. 612 turn left go .01 mile and bear left, Afton is on the right).

Also in Hague, Buena Vista, c. 1835, now home of the Hague Winery is a fine example of Greek revival architecture. It was originally part of the Richard Lee I tract of 2000 acres patented in 1658. Rich in architectural details of the Greek revival period the most unique feature is the main entrance vestibule with double doors—one to the formal parlor and the other to the dining room. The house also boasts an elegant curving stairway to the upper floor. The present house continues the predominant use of the color blue reflecting the thought at the time that blue repelled insects. Fabulous light fixtures throughout the house reflect the age when it was lit by gas. Open for Historic Garden Week for the first time, the home is owned by Stephen and Cynthia Madey who purchased the 139 acre farm in 2000 and began the Hague Winery. (From information Center, turn left and then turn right R. 202, go .03 miles to Hague Winery sign on left).

Located just a short distance from Buena Vista, Mount Pleasant, c. 1886, is an intricate design of late Victorian residential architecture. This beautifully restored home, built in the Queen Anne style, exhibits a framed construction painted an array of rich colors with a steeply pitched gabled roof, four chimneys and a sweeping verandah. The interior of the house offers a rare glimpse of America’s Gilded Age in rooms containing original fireplaces and mantles, walnut woodwork and fine period furniture. The central staircase of walnut and chestnut soars to the third floor where the ceiling is fitted with a leaded stained glass skylight. Within the woodland setting are three dependencies: a carriage house, smokehouse and well house. Built on land once patented by Richard Lee, founder of the noted Lee family, it remained in that family for six generations. A Virginia Historic Landmark, Mount Pleasant is owned by Mr. and Mrs. William T. Carden. (From information Center, turn right, .02 miles to entrance on left).

In the northern part of Westmoreland County in Colonial Beach visit Horseshoe Banks which was built in 1985 by its owners and was named for Mrs. Edwards’ ancestral home in Tallahassee, Florida. It is situated on the east bank of Rosier Creek just off the Potomac River. Colonial features of this Georgian style house include brick laid in Flemish bond with water table, jack arches and 18th century belting. Off the marble entrance, the parlor on the right and the dining room on the left are both decorated with handsome 18th century reproduction fabrics and furniture. At the far end of the entrance hall is an open vista to the charming garden room overlooking the river and herb garden. On the right is a passageway to the library, paneled in native walnut and featuring a corner fireplace, one of five in the house. The owners’ love of landscaping is reflected in the formal planting of English boxwood and the spacious lawn of native trees and shrubs. Horseshoe Banks is owned by Mr. and Mrs. William H. Edwards. (19927 Ridge Road, Colonial Beach, 22443, from intersection of Rtes. 3 and 205 at Oak Grove, turn on Route 205 toward Colonial Beach. Follow 5.7 mi. and make sharp left turn, continuing on Rte. 205. Follow 2.9 mi. Home on right).

Just outside Westmoreland County on the shores of the Rappahannock River lies Nanzatico, c.1768 which has a commanding view of the bay of the same name given to it from the native Indians who greeted Capt. John Smith when he explored the Rappahannock River. The original 2,400 acre tract was patented by Sir Henry in 1656. The frame two-story structure was built by Charles “Blaze” Carter, grandson of Robert “King” Carter. The home is unusual in Colonial architecture because it was made of wood rather than brick, yet it features many classical details with pedimented and heroic fluted pilasters of the Iconic order on the river side of the house. The house is thought to be based on a London patter book published by Robert Morris in 1755. Charles Carter elected to make it one room deep so as to open it to light with numerous windows. Evidence suggests that William Buckland, noted builder of Gunston Hall, may have done the interior woodwork which is original throughout the house. The mural in the great hall is a hand painted map of Nanzatico and areas along the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers done by R. L. Lambdin in the early 20th century. Furnishings include a collection of the present owners’ antique porcelains, Persian rugs and reproductions of antique wallpaper from London. The ancient tulip poplar to the right-hand side of the house has been carefully preserved by the owners. Nanzatico is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia Historic Landmark. Mr. & Mrs. W. N. Harrell Smith IV are the owners. (From the Horseshoe Banks, turn right onto Rte. 205 and follow for 8.5 mi to Rte. 301. Turn left onto Rte. 301 and go 5.7 mi., and turn left onto R 625 and continue 3 miles to R 698, turn right to Nanzatico Lane. Home is straight ahead (about 1 mi.) on river banks.

Burnt House Field—from Information Center, turn right on Rte. 612 (Coles Point Rd.) then turn left on Mt. Pleasant Rd., 1.02 mi. to end of road. In this Lee graveyard are buried Richard Lee of Machodoc and Thomas Lee of Stratford, their wives and Richard Henry Lee of Chantilly. A memorial marker for George Lee and his wives is also here. A brick enclosure of Flemish bond construction surrounds the graves, once the garden on the estate where Thomas Lee and his family were living before the completion of Stratford Hall. The house burned in 1729 and was thereafter called Burnt House Field.

Yeocomico Episcopal Church of Cople Parish, 1233 Old Yeocomico Rd., Kinsale 22488. From Information Center, turn left and then left onto Rte. 202 (Cople Hwy.) Go 2.5 mi. then turn left onto Rte. 604 (Sandy Point Rd.) Go 2 mi. and turn left onto Rte. 606 (Old Yeocomico Rd.) Go 1.3 mi. Church is on left. Yeocomico Church is the oldest church in the Northern Neck. Dating originally from 1655, the existing brick building was constructed in 1706. The church is carefully preserved and maintained by an active congregation. Yeocomico is open to visitors on tour day.

Westmoreland County Museum and Library, 43 Court Square, Montross 22520, was built in 1937-39 to house the early American artist Charles Wilson Peale’s portrait of William Pitt (1768). Exhibits reflect the life and times of historic county residents. Noted landscape architect Charles F. Gillette designed the museum’s Colonial Revival garden, one of only two of his designs in the Northern Neck. Open Mon. through Sat., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (804) 493-8440.

Stratford Hall, 483 Great House Rd., Stratford, VA 22558. Thomas Lee, a Virginia planter and patriot, had the impressive H-shaped Great House built c. 1738. Stratford Hall was the boyhood home of the only two brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee and the birthplace of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. During the period of 1930–34, the Garden Club of Virginia restored the east garden. A Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Open daily 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (804) 493-8038.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument, 1732 Popes Creek Rd., Colonial Beach, VA 22443. The first National Park Service historical park, this includes the archeological site of George Washington’s birth house, a Memorial House, Colonial Kitchen and Garden filled with period plantings in an 18th century farm setting. Visitor center, trails and picnic area are all available at no charge. (804) 224-1732. www.nps.gov/gewa.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Oak Grove. Intersection of Rte. 3 (King’s Hwy.) and Rte. 205 (James Monroe Hwy.) Established in 1653, the present Gothic Revival style church was consecrated by the Rev. John Johns in 1849. It was built at a crossing, away from the rivers for “health considerations.” Names of both Confederate and Union soldiers are written on the walls, indicating occupation by both sides at various times during the Civil War.

James Monroe Birthplace National Monument. Off Rte. 3 on Rte. 205, 4.6 mi. west of Oak Grove. The exact location of the birthplace of the nation’s fifth president remained elusive until recently. In 1976 an archeological dig unearthed remnants of a brick house with a cellar, fireplace, dependencies and artifacts. Monrovia has been added to the Register of Historic Places. www.monroefoundation.org.

Historic Christ Church. From Kilmarnock, take Rte. 200 S and turn right on Rte. 646 (Christ Church Rd.). Completed in 1735, Christ Church is considered one of the best preserved and most finely crafted of Colonial Virginia’s Anglican Parish Churches. The landscape setting is a Garden Club of Virginia restoration project with funding from Historic Garden Week tours. (804) 438-6855. www.christchurch1735.org.

Just Gardens - 11th Annual Fundraiser

May 13th and 14th will mark the 11th annual Just Gardens tour to benefit The Haven Shelter & Services, Inc. This tour has become a favorite spring event for thousands of garden lovers from across Virginia and beyond. As of the end of last year, the Just Gardens Committee had donated $111,093 to The Haven.

We are excited to have our tour in territory new to the Just Gardens event. Five gardens located near Kinsale in Westmoreland County and off Mundy Point Road in Northumberland County will be open for the tour—rain or shine.

The 2011 featured gardens are:

“Willow Point,” the home of Cynthia Hudson and Jim Lake, was built on the footprint of the original house, which they used as a retreat for years before building the present home. Their three-year-old garden has been designed, with the help of landscape architect C. Preston Dalrymple of Richmond, VA, to take full advantage of a dramatic setting. The themes of the design are easy maintenance and adherence to the natural beauty of the site. Wide views of Mill Creek provide a backdrop for terracing paths and steps using bricks and oversized stones. A pool has been tucked in beside the terrace and a fire pit provides a modern vantage point to enjoy the water views. Azaleas, daylilies, grasses, perennials and herbs all enhance the basic design.  The vegetable garden is more formal and features raised beds and a border of Knockout roses. An adjacent chicken coop is home to a brood of brilliantly colored heritage hens. 

“Plainview,” the home of Gin and Bob Harris, located on the Western Branch of the Yeocomico River in Kinsale, was built in 1950 by Bob’s parents and had an addition completed in 1989. The informal garden, designed by Katherine Brooks of Blooming Gardens, and kept primarily by Bob, incorporates both a shade area and a sun area. As you enter the garden through a pergola, you will find pink roses and a great variety of perennials and shrubs. Butterfly bushes, hydrangeas, hostas and an extensive collection of daylilies are particular favorites of the owners. The exfoliating bark of the river birch brings enjoyment at every season, and the herb garden provides an abundant amount of herbs for Gin’s cooking. Whimsical garden art complements the plantings. The garden has two pleasant seating areas and extends to the water’s edge where the end of the day brings tranquility.

Over the past six years, Theda Brann has transformed the area surrounding the Kinsale family home of her husband, Don, into a delightful garden. The beautiful location with gorgeous views of Yeocomico Creek is decorated with lavish beds, trees young and old, and a terraced slope to the water. Theda began with the older brick house in which Don was raised. As they built their current home nearby, she added landscaping around both houses. There are island beds where pathways invite you to walk amid the flowers (mostly in shades of yellow, pink, and purple) including phlox, bee balm, hydrangeas, and azaleas. A butterfly garden sits at the top of the terraced slope. It is evident that this garden is a joy to the gardener as well as to the visitor.

“Warwick Banks,” a 30-acre peninsula anchored by fields and woods and washed by Mill Creek, offers breathtaking water views. When Monte and Susan Lake purchased the property in 2002, they faced a daunting scene of dilapidated buildings, beds lost in weeds, and views obscured by brambles. They carefully reconstructed the original farmhouse (early 1900s) and dependencies. The main house (1947) was artfully rebuilt, using the original footprint, to bring garden and water views inside by incorporating a variety of natural materials and an abundance of windows.

Landscape architect C. Preston Dalrymple of Richmond, VA, helped with the new informal landscape design, inspired by the original farm setting. Perennial beds, meandering hedges of flowering shrubs, and climbing and hedge roses set off the buildings and old-growth trees. Raised stone beds surround the main house. Organic vegetable and herb gardens, young fruit trees, and berry bushes complement the barn and chicken house.

“Cats Cove,” the home of Kathy Hoffmann and Charles Newton, located on Wilkins Creek which is a tributary of the Yeocomico River, consists of two parcels that total almost 8 acres. Half of the land has undergone a thirty-year metamorphosis transforming a largely empty old homestead and field into a subtly landscaped home, incorporating elements of both the original farm and the owner’s passion for environmentally sensitive design. Kathy pursued and earned, in 2009, a Landscape Design Professional Certificate through the University of Richmond, which has served her well in battling with the challenges of the terrain. The current house, which replaced the old homestead in 2007, looks over the swimming pool and down a gentle slope to the shoreline, with beds of shrubs and perennials leading the eye to the water. An old storage shed overlooking the creek has been converted into a separate cottage, and is now a charming and very private bed and breakfast facility. The gardens rely heavily on mass plantings of small trees, shrubs and ornamental grasses for form and multi-seasonal interest. The upper 3.3 acres bordering Mundy Point Road is mostly wooded. The open area around a small farmhouse includes a vegetable garden and small berry patch. The enclosed area keeps the family goats from eating everything in sight as they watch the chickens foraging for food. Open areas have been planted with shrubs and trees or left uncut to provide abundant wildlife habitat. Charlie handles the mowing and other maintenance issues, but otherwise the garden is Kathy’s creation, and her delight.

This year’s event will be yet another magnificent tour. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the days of the tour. Advance purchase by mail is possible until May 6. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope (#10 business size) and a check, payable to The Haven, to: Just Gardens, P.O. Box 429, Irvington, VA 22480. Brochures and advance ticket sales will also be available in early March at the following locations: The Haven Shelter & Services, Inc. Administrative Office, Shoppe for Haven’s Sake Thrift Store, 5726 Richmond Road, Warsaw, VA; The Dandelion, Irvington Road, Irvington, VA; Greenpoint Nursery, Rte. 3, Lively, VA; Wildest Dreams, Rte. 200, Burgess, VA; The Pedestal, 18 South Main St., Kilmarnock, VA; River Birch Gifts, (opening April 1) Rte 3, White Stone, VA; The Art of Coffee, 15722 Kings Highway, Montross, VA. On the days of tour tickets can be purchased at all the gardens. Tickets are non-refundable. If you are interested in having your garden included in future tours, please let us know. We are always looking for interesting gardens.

The Haven is a non-profit organi­zation, which provides services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in the rural area of the Northern Neck of Virginia. The mission of The Haven is to prevent and eliminate all types of domestic violence and sexual assault and stalking. To meet that end, they provide advocacy and shelter for identified victims of partner abuse and sexual assault, provide support services to victims and their families and enhance public awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault through community outreach and education. For more information, call Sandy Longest, Community Relations Coordinator, at The Haven Shelter & Services, Inc., 804-333-1099, email at crc@havenshelter.org, or visit our website at www.havenshelter.org.