Staunton, Va. -- This year marks the 83rd year of Historic Garden Week in Virginia, a time when Virginia shows its true hospitality, opening private homes and their gardens to over 25,000 visitors.
The nation’s oldest home and garden tour was founded in 1927 when a group of fiery women, including Staunton’s native Anne Smith, decided to have a flower show to raise money to protect the ancient trees at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. More than 80 years later, tour proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of nearly 50 historic gardens across the state, including the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library garden, designed by Charles Gillette in 1933.
On April 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Augusta Garden Club will host a walking tour of 5 private homes, and 7 private gardens. These diverse and stately homes can be toured in any order and are within a mile of each other. At one end stands 1703 Dogwood Road, a 1900 Federal Style residence, with guesthouse attached through a soapstone terrace. 1525 Dogwood Road was built in 1912 as a modest bungalow amidst an apple orchard. It has undergone extensive additions and remodeling, including a recent remodel of the backyard by landscape designer Jef Naunchik. 1421 Dogwood Road is a Colonial Revival home built in 1965, now home to a young family who is in the process of restoring the formal garden on the side of the home. The garden at 1432 Dogwood represents a labor of love for the current owner over a period of 24 years. It features many garden rooms, including a formal rose garden. The garden at 39 Edgewood Road can be entered either from Fayrview, its neighbor, or from the back drive off of Ridgeview Road, a stroll from Dogwood. The expansive garden complements the Italian Renaissance Revival house built in 1912, once occupied by the Mary Baldwin President.
33 Edgewood Road was purchased by the owners of Fayrview as a retreat for their children and grandchildren. Affectionately named “33”, it was designed and built in 1937 by architect Sam Collins as a Colonial Revival residence. It’s charming interior is designed for all ages, and the surrounding garden includes patios, rock walls, a tree house, and an adjacent cottage named “33 and ½”, which contains a media room and workshop. Fayrview, another Sam Collins design, completed in 1914, represents Cottage-style Vernacular architecture. Its English style garden was designed by Jef Naunchik, and includes an allee with sculpted fountains at either end. It’s park like setting is a veritable arboretum featuring a landmark Cooper Beech. Also included in your ticket is the Garden Club of Virginia Restoration garden at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum.
Many cultural activities will be featured in the homes and gardens, representing a taste of the rich and varied cultural life Staunton has to offer. Special events, included with the ticket purchase, are:
• Artists from the Queen City Plein Air event will be painting in the gardens. Don’t miss their gallery sale showcasing their garden paintings at the Co-art Gallery in downtown Staunton the evening of the garden tour from 5-7 p.m.
• Violist Fitz Gary will host performances throughout the day in the garden of 1703 Dogwood Road. He holds degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Julliard, and is currently studying in Lubeck, Germany. He is well known as the founder for Music Feeds Us, a chamber music series.
• A performance by the American Shakespeare Center’s WAG students, the MFA degree students from Mary Baldwin College, will be set for 10:00 a.m. in the garden of 1422 Dogwood Road. It’s Shakespeare’s birthday on April 23, and the celebration is in the air!
• Jef Naunchik, Landscape Designer and lecturer for Andre Viette, will describe his design for the English themed garden of Fayrview. He will lecture in the garden at Fayrview at 10:00 a.m. and again at 3:00 p.m.
• At 11:00 a.m. and at 1:00 p.m., the young classical performers from the Heifetz International Music Institute will perform inside the home of 1421 Dogwood Road. This will be a seated performance and will last approximately 30 minutes.
• At noon on the terrace overlooking the garden of 39 Edgewood Road, Dwayne Pitsenbarger of JMD Farm market and Garden Center will give a Flower Arranging demonstration using odds and ends found in your home.
“What I am most excited about this year, is the incredible collaboration between the members of the community of Staunton to come together to showcase the arts in the setting of this garden tour”, said Virginia Gillock, chair of this year’s tour. “The homes and gardens are unique and each homeowner has put so much of their personality into each space. When you combine that with stunning flower arrangements, then add music, drama, art, landscape architecture, and a big dash of creativity, you can’t help but feel happy. It’s irresistible!”.
For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit www.vagardenweek.org. Advanced tickets can also be purchased from the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, Heifetz Institute, The Emporium, Crown Jewelers, Village Garden Center, Milmont Greenhouses, Waynesboro Landscape and Garden Center, and the Fashion Gallery. Tickets are $25.00 in advance, or $35.00 the day of the tour at any tour home.
Historic Garden Week is organized by the member clubs of the Garden Club of Virginia. The 2016 event encompasses 30 tours organized and hosted by 47 member clubs, including the Augusta Garden Club, host of the Staunton Tour. All proceeds from the tour fund the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic gardens, landscapes, and state parks.