Photo by Louise Kraft.

For the past 85 years residences and public gardens throughout Virginia open their doors to the public to celebrate Garden Week. “Virginia is especially beautiful during Historic Garden Week,” notes Nina Mustard, President of the Garden Club of Virginia, the sponsoring organization of the country’s oldest statewide house and garden tour. For one week in April, nearly 25,000 visitors tour beautiful homes and gardens across Virginia and enjoy all the Commonwealth has to offer. The 2018 event encompasses 29 tours organized and hosted by 47 member clubs.

Nearly 250 private homes, gardens and historical sites will be open especially for Historic Garden Week. Every year the properties opened and the tours offered are different, making each year a unique experience.

A beloved spring tradition, Historic Garden Week in Virginia gained important recognition when the Garden Club of Virginia reported the results of its first economic impact study of this successful fundraiser. “The Garden Club of Virginia was able to provide reliable figures estimating the cumulative impact over almost fifty years to be over $425 million,” states Mustard.

“It’s the largest ongoing volunteer effort in Virginia that promotes so many of its communities, both large and small,” says Stephie Broadwater, State Chairman of Historic Garden Week. “We felt that an economic impact study would help validate that work.”

The inspiration for Historic Garden Week dates to 1927 when a flower show organized by Garden Club of Virginia volunteers raised $7,000 to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. The first tours took place two years later, and proceeds from tours have continued to fund the restoration and preservation of the Commonwealth’s significant historic public gardens ever since. “Historic Garden Week has raised millions of dollars to keep Virginia beautiful,” notes Lynn McCashin, GCV Executive Director. “The grounds of Virginia’s most cherished landmarks including Mount Vernon and Stratford Hall have been restored with tour proceeds. As the Garden Club of Virginia approaches her Centennial in 2020, we are also supporting Virginia State Parks with a portion of
HGW proceeds.”

“It’s hard to conceive of the scope of Historic Garden Week, so we like to share some surprising numbers,” Karen Cauthen Ellsworth, State HGW Director and Editor of the Guidebook (a 240-page publication produced annually in support of Historic Garden Week) adds. “In addition to the amazing interiors and gardens on display, Garden Club of Virginia volunteers will design over 2,000 spectacular floral arrangements to decorate rooms open to the public. Most of the plant materials will come from their very own gardens.”

The 2018 marketing materials will feature the Kwanzan cherry blossom and a historic Gloucester property on the water. “The Kwanzan cherry is the star of the Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. and such a lovely symbol of the beginning of springtime,” explains Ellsworth. She emphasizes, “Historic Garden Week would not be possible without the hard work of our 3,300 Garden Club of Virginia members across the Commonwealth.”

The Garden Club of Virginia celebrates the beauty of the land, conserves the gifts of nature and challenges future generations to build on this heritage. The 3,300-member organization presents educational programs and makes awards to encourage community conservation and beautification projects. Most notably, the Garden Club of Virginia is recognized for its Historic Garden Week, a statewide tour of gardens and homes. Tour proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of Virginia’s historic gardens, landscapes and state parks.