The Historic Gardens
The garden is located behind the Manse and is open to the public from dawn until dusk.
Visitors do not need an admission ticket to tour the gardens.
The original property of the Manse was much larger than the current lot. The lot was a working farm for the family. In the diary of the first minister who lived in the home, we learn of the various plants that were added, including fruit trees, a vegetable garden, and flowers. A stable was on the property and we learn from primary sources that there was a smokehouse on the property as well. The gardens and grounds were tend by enslaved individuals who were owned by the family.
The first gardens, designed in 1933 by Richmond landscape architect Charles F. Gillette was done as a project by the Garden Club of Virginia. The Victorian restoration, suitable to the 1846 bowknot garden would not have been part of the home during Wilson’s time in the garden, but was a popular feature during the colonial revival period. construction date of the house, the gardens included two terraces, the lower one featuring boxwood-lined bowknot beds, the only bowknot garden that Gillette created. To further highlight the features of the gardens, a brick terrace and pathways, designed by landscape architect Ralph E. Griswold were erected in 1967-
68. In 2008, the Garden Club of Virginia brought new life back to the garden by rebuilding perimeter fencing, planting new boxwoods, lilacs, hostas and perennials.
Unfortunately, in 2015, the boxwood blight (Cylindrocladium buxicola) disease destroyed the boxwoods in the lower garden. The disease was first identified in Virginia in 2011, and by 2013, several properties around the Commonwealth were infected with the fungus. Symptoms of the disease include brown leaf spots that lead to defoliation and black streaking on boxwood stem tissue. The boxwoods were removed in fall 2016, and plans for a new design of the garden are currently ongoing.