Garden Week A Welcome Sign Of Spring

Shake Off Your Winter Doldrums During Historic Garden Week

 By Jennifer Lee

After a particularly long, cold, snowy winter, your spring fever will be well treated by touring five beautiful Clarke County homes and gardens April 26 and 27. The Garden Club of Virginia sponsors the eight-day statewide event from April 26 to May 3, with 31 tours through more than 250 of Virginia’s most lovely private homes and gardens.

Terry Chandler, a member of the Winchester–Clarke Garden Club, is serving as chairman for the local tour this year, which alternates from year to year between Clarke County and Winchester. Planning for each tour starts two to three years in advance of the event and employs the time and talents of hundreds of volunteers, doing everything from making bouquets to serving as home hosts.

“People must be willing to open their homes and grounds to hundreds of people coming through. They are very gracious to do so,” Chandler said. Historic Long Branch will serve as the hub of this year’s tour, offering a boxed lunch from L’Auberge Provencale between 11am and 1pm on April 26, followed by tea from 1 to 4pm. From there, participants may take themselves on a self-guided tour of four homes and gardens near Boyce, Millwood, and White Post.

“Each stop offers something different,” Chandler said. “Ted’s place (Ted Guariello’s Fox Spring Woods) is like poetry in motion, a great balance between organic and geometric.”

Fruit trees are one of the main features at Michael and Cleo Gewirz’s Mount Prospect home; serviceberry trees and a wide variety of perennials accent Laurie Volk’s The Barn House property; and a more formal garden incorporating boxwood and hydrangea bushes is featured at Robert and Jenny Irwin’s Swift Shoals place.

In addition to the lunch and tea served at Long Branch, there will be a garden store in a newly spiffed up garage on the property, an exhibit on the projects of the Garden Club of Virginia, and even small bouquets for visitors to take home. “They have just been wonderful to work with,” Chandler says of the staff at Long Branch.

Since 1929, proceeds from the Virginia tours have gone to support the restoration and maintenance of some of the state’s most historic and beloved gardens, including Monticello, Maymont, and Mount Vernon; and locally at Belle Grove, the Burwell-Morgan Mill, and Blandy Experimental Farm. The Garden Club of Virginia (GCV), based in Richmond, says that more than 30,000 tourists from all over the country and the world travel to Virginia for the event. Proceeds also help fund the GCV summer research fellowship programs for graduate students of landscape architecture.

The Winchester-Clarke Garden Club recently donated $25,000 to the Shenandoah Discovery Museum for the development of a rooftop garden at their new location on Cork Street in Winchester. “It was a perfect project for us to contribute to,” said Chandler. Over 100 volunteers from this club, the Greenway Garden Club, and The Little Garden Club of Winchester will participate in the Historic Garden Weekend in Clarke County.

So prepare to have your green thumb and nesting instincts inspired with this springtime tour of five uniquely appealing properties. “We’re hoping for beautiful weather and for lots of people to come out!” exclaimed Chandler.

Advance tickets at $25 per person are available at the Fire House Gallery in Berryville and Classic Touch Interiors, Kimberly’s, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, and the Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center in Winchester. Tickets may be purchased at Long Branch on the days of the event for $30 or $15 for a single site. For more information, visit or call Terry Chandler at 540-837-2465 or e-mail at


Some of the properties on the tour include:

Historic Long Branch – 830 Long Branch Lane, Millwood. Take Route 50 to Rt. 624/Red Gate Rd., turn right on Rt. 626, and turn left on to Long Branch Lane.

Historic Long Branch preserves an over 200-year-old Federal brick home and former wheat plantation on 400 acres. In 1986, Harry Z. Isaacs rescued Long Branch from near dereliction, restoring the interior and adding a crenellated west wing to balance the east wing. Before his death, he established a foundation to manage the property. Long Branch boasts the only garden in the U.S. named in honor of famed British flower arranger, Sheila Macqueen, and includes herbs, hellebores, hostas, roses, and plants native to her English gardens.

The Barn House – 163 Greenfields Lane, White Post. Proceed south at the intersection of Rt. 340 and Rt. 50, turn left on Rt. 658 to White Post. Go through White Post and turn right on Greenfields Lane.

 Designed and built by neighboring landowners in 2004, this house resembles a barn and enjoys views of historic Greenway Court and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It features a stone fireplace, exposed beams, open floor plan, and hardwoods milled from fallen trees on surrounding properties. The galleried second floor showcases a collection of art from California, the owner’s home state, and objects from Colonial Peru. Two Yellowwood trees and oval beds with grasses and Oakleaf hydrangeas flank the house entrance. Serviceberry trees and perennial beds of hellebores, Nepeta, hydrangea, hostas, Coreopsis, Monarada, and an array of Narcissus and Crocus accent the property. Owned by Laurie Volk.

Mount Prospect – 233 Mt. Prospect Lane, Boyce. Take Rt. 50 to Rt. 624/Red Gate Road, turn left on Rt. 622/Swift Shoals Rd. Pass Kennel Rd. and property is on left at top of hill.

Built between 1870-1874 in the Folk Victorian style, the home recently underwent renovations to preserve the original windows, molding, hardware, flooring, and fireplaces, while allowing for modern uses. The long gravel driveway is graced by a variety of fruit trees while the front is surrounded by mature maples and pine trees. An outdoor fireplace and trellis is covered with wisteria. Several outbuildings and a fenced vegetable and flower garden complete the picture. Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Gewirz.

Swift Shoals – 2060 Swift Shoals Road, Boyce. Take Rt. 50 to Rt. 624/Red Gate Rd. Turn left on Rt. 622/Swift Shoals Rd. Pass Kennel Rd. and Mt. Prospect to the driveway on left. Proceed to top of hill.

Swift Shoals, built in 2006 to resemble a New England farmhouse, rests atop a knoll overlooking the Shenandoah River with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The home features a dining room with three quarter high paneling, an expansive kitchen with soapstone countertops and table built by a local artist, and a large family room with coffered ceiling that opens to a trellised porch covered with wisteria. The front landscaping includes a flagstone walkway, semicircle of American boxwoods, Chinese Elms, Justin Brouwer boxwoods, and Annabell hydrangeas. A large pool is sided with Limelight hydrangeas and Green Giant boxwoods, with Sweet Bay magnolia and Yellowwood trees as accents. Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Irwin.

Fox Spring Woods – 695 Clay Hill Road, Millwood. From Millwood, proceed north on Rt. 255/Bishop Meade Rd, then turn right on Rt. 651/Clay Hill Rd. Property is on left. 

An example of how modern architecture can complement landscape design, the property offers a park-like setting and a home built in 1983, designed by renowned architect Alan Hamilton Rider. The home features a large foyer that opens into a living room with floor to ceiling windows facing the Blue Ridge Mountains. The grounds hold a terraced pool with pool house, an office, a gym, and unique trees, including a Cedar of Lebanon in the front lawn and an oak tree that is a descendant of the Waterloo Oak that stands in the Kew Gardens in London. Supposedly grown from an acorn that a soldier pocketed from the battlefield the day the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon in 1815, Ambassador Harrison Symmes later grew a seedling from an acorn from this famous tree and planted it near the gym on the property. Owned by Theodore Guariello.