The women of the Garden Club of Virginia (GCV) are celebrating this April as they open the doors for their 90th annual Virginia Historic Garden Week Tours. The tradition of Historic Garden Week dates to 1927, when a flower show organized by the Garden Club of Virginia raised an impressive $7,000. In today’s money, that would be $120,000. They used it to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson on the lawn at Monticello. The GCV has since made it their priority to preserve Virginia’s natural landscapes and historic gardens for a century. While the projects of the Garden Club have grown over the decades, the mission remains as important as ever. They pledge to preserve the incredible natural beauty and environment of Virginia.
Celebrating 90 Years of Historic Garden Week
The Garden Club of Virginia has grown to be a partnership of 3,400 community leaders active in 48 garden clubs. Their annual Virginia Historic Garden Week is the longest-running statewide home and garden tour in the nation. Each year they host approximately 30,000 garden enthusiasts. The guests enjoy some of the state’s oldest and most beautiful gardens. It is an inspiring experience and spurs many on to become more involved in gardening, conservation and preservation.
The 2023 Historic Garden Week includes 29 distinct tours over 8 days, April 15 through 22. The tour provides access to more than 100 homes and gardens all opened especially for Historic Garden Week. GCV members will design more than 1,000 exceptional floral arrangements for the tour. Special properties open this spring include Bunny Mellon’s spectacular Little Oak Springs in Upperville, John Kluge’s lovely Morven in Charlottesville and dozens of GCV restoration sites. It even includes the Executive Mansion and GCV’s headquarters in Richmond, the Kent-Valentine House.
The Exceptional Women of the Garden Club of Virginia
The garden tour is a primary fundraiser for the Club and supports their many good works of conservation. One of the first projects the GCV took on in the 1920s was helping to establish the Virginia State Park System. “In the early 19th century, there weren’t outlets for educated women to become politically active. They couldn’t vote yet,” says Garden Club of Virginia Past President Missy Buckingham. “Some worked for suffrage. For others, the formation of garden clubs was a way to be impactful in their own backyards and communities. These women changed the landscape of our country.”
“…the formation of garden clubs was a way to be impactful in their own backyards and communities. These women changed the landscape of our country.”
The Garden Club of Virginia has made a lasting impact on Virginia’s landscape. They influence everything from our state parks and historic preservation work to conservation initiatives. The Garden Club has used proceeds from its annual Historic Garden Week event to fund the restoration of over 50 completed projects. Have you ever admired the flowers at Maymont or the native plant pollinator meadow at Bear Creek State Park? If you enjoy the shrubbery of Mount Vernon or the serpentine walled gardens of UVA, you can thank the Garden Club of Virginia.
We welcome you to enjoy the incredible 2023 tour from April 15 through 22. Your support of the 90th annual Virginia Historic Garden Week Tour and the work of the incredible women of the GCV makes an impact. The Garden Club of Virginia is building a wonderful legacy, ensuring future generations will inherit a beautiful and environmentally sound Virginia landscape. ~
Historic Garden Week locations in the past have included refurbished homes, landmark sites and curated landscapes such as Mount Fair, Elizabeth Locke’s stunning dahlia garden and the charming English-style Boninti Home. For more about the Garden Club of Virginia, read about Françoise Weeks’ extravagant botanical couture workshop, as well as the Garden Week Tours of 2022 in Albemarle County and Historic Leesburg. For more home, garden and décor content featuring magnificent historic gardens and even beautiful equestrian stables, greenhouses and chic garden sheds, look to our Virginia Wine & Country Home & Garden page.
JENNIFER BRYERTON is Co-Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Virginia Wine & Country Life. She is an avid gardener, home cook and wine-taster. She enjoys learning about Virginia viticulture and sharing the story of our local farm-to-table makers.
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