Thursday, April 21, 2011

Historic Garden Tour

April in the Fredericksburg area is the prettiest time of year. The trees with their baby leaves are that lovely apple-green color, and the dogwoods, redbuds and azaleas are in bloom, so even on my shady, deer-munched, untended piece of land, there’s spring color to be found. So it really is a perfect time for Historic Garden Week in Virginia, which includes garden tours in 32 locations, all presented by the Garden Club of Virginia.

The Fredericksburg area’s historic garden tour this year was in Spotsylvania County. Several of the properties were historic, and some were modern subdivision homes, all with varying amounts of landscaping and flower beds. This year’s tour was focused on the homes’ interiors, and on the many beautiful floral arrangements that graced each home, rather than on lush outdoor gardens. The variety of arrangements was an inspiration to me, because while many relied on cut flowers with showy blooms, just as many focused on native woodland plants, flowering trees and shrubs. So even a non-gardener like me could get ideas for filling vases with spring branches and buds and blossoms.

Our first stop on the tour was historic Millbrook. George Washington's sister, Betty Lewis, moved to this property after she was widowed, and could no longer afford the Kenmore mansion. She lived here for two years before her death. Her original house burned down, and this one replaced it in 1836.

The rear garden at Millbrook:

Stevenson Ridge, a B&B, is made up of a number of historic buildings moved to the site for use as guest lodgings and event venues. Riddick House at Stevenson Ridge is a circa 1812 home which was originally part of a North Carolina plantation.

The interior of one of the cozy cottages at Stevenson Ridge:

This home, in the Bloomsbury subdivision, had extensive landscaping, all personally tended by the homeowner, a woman in her 80's:

The front flower bed of another Bloomsbury home: