In 2020, the Garden Club of Virginia (GCV) canceled Historic Garden Week for only the second time in its history; the first cancellation was during World War II. Like those of the generations before us who learned to adapt to wartime living, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned many of us into master gardeners of change, patience and innovation.
The members of 48 garden clubs that comprise the GCV didn’t miss a beat. Over the summer they began planning to offer safe and enjoyable tours that comply with current health mandates. We are excited to open 102 private gardens and dozens of historic properties as part of “America’s Largest Open House” this April 17 – 24. Historic Garden Week includes eight days of tours in 25 different communities. For garden lovers, this event has few peers.
As the Garden Club of Virginia’s largest fundraiser, Historic Garden Week proceeds underwrite the ongoing restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic public gardens and landscapes, as well as a research fellowship program for students in landscape architecture. Here, the GCV has completed projects at some of our most popular public spaces including Blandy Experimental Farm, the Burwell-Morgan Mill, John Handley High School and Belle Grove. This work would not be possible without funding from Historic Garden Week tours.
To comply with COVID-19 mandates, this year the number of tour tickets available for sale was reduced, ticket prices were decreased, and a timed-entry format was implemented while still providing what we hope will be an exceptional tour experience. All guests will be required to wear face masks, and social distancing protocols will be in place.
Always a highlight of Historic Garden Week, blue ribbon-worthy flower arrangements decorate and complement featured properties. It is estimated that GCV members will create over 1,000 arrangements — including massive outdoor installations — as a special part of this spring’s tours.
Historic Garden Week could not take place without the generosity of club members, homeowners, sponsors, advertisers and volunteers across the state. We extend our thanks to everyone who makes this event possible and invite area residents and visitors to enjoy the restorative power of gardens during Historic Garden Week 2021.
Terry Chandler is president of the Winchester-Clarke Garden Club.