Beginning April 21, the Garden Club of Virginia's Historic Garden Week celebrates 85 years with the return of its annual, statewide home and garden tours. Of the 29 tours taking place over the eight-day showcase, five will be held throughout Coastal Virginia in Suffolk, Williamsburg, Hampton-Newport News, Virginia Beach and Norfolk.
Historic Garden Week is Virginia’s oldest volunteer tourism project and our nation’s only statewide home and garden tour. Private residences across the Commonwealth open their doors and garden gates to thousands of visitors, inviting them into a discussion on home décor, floral design and landscape maintenance. While the homeowner is responsible for the appearance of the exterior gardens, local garden club members arrange extravagant bouquets and arrangements to stage the homes’ showrooms.
There are currently over 3,300 active members in the 47 statewide clubs associated with the Garden Club of Virginia, many of who serve as docents during the tours, greeting visitors and discussing with them the homes' garden displays and interior spaces.
Much like the homes and gardens on exhibit, the economic impact of Historic Garden Week is nothing short of remarkable. Last year, the local, one-day tour through the seaside homes on 43rd and 44th Street at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront raised over $60,000—a significant contribution to the $425 million raised by Historic Garden Week over the past 45 years.
The millions in proceeds have been graciously returned to the state in the form of preservation, creation and education. The Garden Club of Virginia is dedicated to funding historic sites throughout Virginia, restoring public gardens, landscapes and state parks, as well as awarding fellowships to college and graduate-level students expressing a budding interest in conservation, environmental affairs and landscape architecture.
For those wishing to tour the stunning homes and gardens in support of the Historic Garden Week mission, we've outlined the five local garden tours taking place between the week's kickoff on Saturday, April 21 and its conclusion on Saturday, April 28. Read below for an inside look into local exhibitions, ticket information and more.
Suffolk Garden Tour
Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Tour hosts, The Franklin Garden Club, The Nansemond River Garden Club and The Elizabeth River Garden Club, invite you to explore the waterfront village of Eclipse. Once serving as a critical port for colonial trade and primary waterway during Virginia's earliest battles, Eclipse's surrounding Chuckatuck Creek and Bleakhorn Creek, Nansemond River and James River are now enjoyed as local hotspots for fishing, oystering, boat building and more.
All homes and gardens on display radiate the rich history and culture of small-town Eclipse. Tour guests will enjoy exclusive access to the private gardens of local homes, cottages and churches as well as nationally recognized gardens.
Admission is $30 in advance and $35 at the door.
Williamsburg Garden Tour
Tuesday, April 24, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Much like the city itself, the Williamsburg Garden tour is a beautiful mix of modern residences and centuries-old gardens. Revisit an 18th century oasis at two historic homes in Colonial Williamsburg, or explore the whimsical children's garden at Matthew Whaley Elementary School. Also on display are four private residences offering stunning waterfront views of the James River at Governor's Land at Two Rivers.
The Williamsburg Garden Club also invites tour guests to enjoy a delicious luncheon hosted by the Two Rivers Country Club at Governor's Land. Two complimentary shuttles will run within Governor's Land to transport visitors between the homes and country club.
Admission is $40 in advance, $50 at the door and $85 for a three-day combo ticket for Williamsburg, Hampton-Newport News and Norfolk tours.
Hampton-Newport News Garden Tour
Wednesday, April 25, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Situated at the historic water's edge, The Hampton Roads Garden Club and The Huntington Garden Club present a collection of private properties as well as a historic landmark. The oldest home on tour, Hampton University’s Mansion House, dates back to the mid-19th century and boasts spectacular views of the Hampton River.
In addition to the banks of the Hampton River, the four remaining private homes also showcase views of historic battlegrounds and Sunset Creek.
Admission is $30 in advance, $40 at the door and $85 for a three-day combo ticket for Williamsburg, Hampton-Newport News and Norfolk tours.
Virginia Beach Garden Tour
Wednesday, April 25, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
The Princess Anne Garden Club and Virginia Beach Garden Club introduce Life on the Lynnhaven, a tour of seven immaculate homes and gardens in Great Neck Point in northern Virginia Beach. The homes on tour range from 18th-century masterpieces to extravagant contemporaries, all of which offer panoramic views of the Lynnhaven River.
Offering both a complimentary shuttle service and ticketed luncheon, Broad Bay Country Club will be operating as the headquarters for the Virginia Beach Garden Tour. A lunch ticket may be purchased through Broad Bay Country Club for $20. The lunch spread includes a salad bar with a live grill station, fresh fruit, soup and desserts, and will be served from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Reservations are highly recommended.
Admission is $30 in advance, $40 at the door and $55 for a two-day combo ticket for Virginia Beach and Norfolk tours.
Norfolk Garden Tour
Thursday, April 26, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Serving as this year’s focal point is the Hermitage Museum & Gardens, built in Norfolk’s scenic Lochhaven neighborhood in 1908. The local landmark is surrounded by the lapping waters of the Lafayette River and will be one of the many properties and gardens on display in Lochhaven.
Co-host, The Garden Club of Norfolk, was among the original eight clubs responsible for establishing the state federation of garden clubs in 1920. Together, The Garden Club of Norfolk and the Harborfront Garden Club encourage guests to take advantage of all the natural splendor Norfolk has to offer by including in the tour the Virginia Zoological Park, the Norfolk Botanical Garden and the Chrysler Museum.
Admission is $30 in advance, $40 at the door, $55 for a two-day combo ticket for Virginia Beach and Norfolk tours and $85 for a three-day combo ticket for Williamsburg, Hampton-Newport News and Norfolk tours.