GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2009 show18
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Show #18/1605. Virginia Garden Tour

History of Historic Garden Week
She tells us HISTORIC GARDEN WEEK WAS STARTED IN 1929 to raise funds to restore a very important historic garden in Fredricksburg and the tours have been held every year since, with the exception of a period during World War II when the garden club members tended their victory gardens. Every year, during the last full week of April, the Garden Club of Virginia and it's 47 member clubs open approximately 200 of Virginia's most beautiful private gardens and homes. All across the state from the Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge Mountains they offer quite a variety of properties, something for everyone. About 4 centuries of Virginia history are represented in the course of Historic Garden Week.

Click here for more info

Mt. Sharon Farm
Richard meets Mary Lou Seilheimer. MARY LOU IN TURN WELCOMES RICHARD TO MT. SHARON. Mary Lou and her husband, Charlie, are owners of Mt. Sharon. Mary Lou has been involved with the garden club for years and treasures the friends she's made. She has held a number of interesting jobs, from horticulture chairman to vice president to finance chairman and most recently, a year ago, she finished up a two year term as Chairman of the Restoration Committee. Mary Lou has been awarded the Massey Medal for all her work. It is the highest honor that the club can give, that's why it was such a thrill and she really appreciated it.

Click here for more info

Octagonal Terrace
THEY START THE TOUR IN THE OCTAGONAL TERRACE. It's an incredible space with a wonderful view. It looks off to a beautiful Piedmont Virginia view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They knew immediately this was the perfect spot to look at the mountains but there were trees in the way. So, they transplanted the trees, took down four board fencing along the driveway, then to cover up the driveway they planted low Boxwood and from this angle, it totally covers the view of the driveway. That is a perfect use of a small plant to hide something that's not attractive.

Click here for more info

Rose Garden
THEY NEXT VISIT THE ROSE GARDEN. It is Richard's favorite. Mary Lou has loved roses since she was a child and has always wanted a big Rose garden. It is well designed. Charles Stick from Charlottesville was the landscape architect and Mary Lou thinks this part of the plan is the best. He was dealing with a hillside, which he terraced, giving the roses good ventilation. It faces south, so they get full sun and then he came up with the idea of twin pergolas, where they can stand in the shade and look out at the beautiful roses.

Click here for more info

Knott Gardens
KNOTT GARDENS WERE POPULAR IN ELIZABETHAN TIMES. They were meant to represent a lover's knot. The plants are designed to be intertwined and different textures and colors of plants were chosen to show the design more clearly. The 2 different knott gardens are very similar in terms of spacing and size, they're about 16 by 16, but there's just a little difference in each one. The design is meant to be different. They were meant to compliment each other. But, the plant material is the same. They have Crimson pigmy Barberry greengem Boxwood and they're used Alysum around the Boxwoods as ground cover. It will fill in as summer progresses. They've also used brick shards to provide accent and color. The Alysum is white and will fill the dark areas, providing a glow deep in the knott garden. This is something anyone could do if they have small space like a courtyard or a small backyard.

Click here for more info

Mixed Border
Mary Lou and Richard next visit the mixed border. It is much less formal than the knott garden. IT IS A MIXED BORDER because it has shrubs, perennials, annuals and bulbs. A lot of things are blooming this time of year and they get better and better as the summer goes along. The perennials and annuals bloom in the summer, thus they're next to the pool. When Mary Lou comes to the swimming pool in the summer she wants to see a lot of flowers. Wherever you hang out during that time of year, those are the plants that need to be blooming. Accordingly she puts her spring flowers close to the house because in the cooler weather, she's more likely to be inside.

Click here for more info

Morrowdale
THIS HOME IS CALLED MORROWDALE and was on the recent Historic Garden Week tour. Charles, here, was thinking that the most important thing is that Morrowdale is a wonderful 19th century house at the center of a working farm in the countryside of Albermale County. So he tried to tie the beautiful home to it's garden, then tie the garden to the surrounding landscape. And it worked. There is a real sense of connectedness between all the elements. Typical of so many of the wonderful farms in Virginia, the outbuildings play a major part of the utilitarian nature of the place. That was one of the great challenges - to try and organize the buildings along a central spine.

Click here for more info

The House Connecting To The Barn
The distance from the house to the barn is substantial but Richard likes how Charles has connected them. The important thing was to try to make the life of the wonderful HOUSE CONECT TO THE BARN, while making something that was both useful and beautiful at the same time. The arbor has an interruption incorporated within the sequence from the house to the garden. The interruption affords a great view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is, after all, the punch line in the story. This farm's position and it's relationship to this countryside is what they were trying to emphasize. They have been successful. The idea of going from sun to shade, then back to sun. The back and forth is very inviting, very appealing.

Click here for more info

Indoors Out/Outdoors In
Charles thinks its an interesting idea to try and mediate the interior of a house, the shade of the interior of a house with the sunlight of a garden. For instance, the arbor, which has a very human scale to it, is a great way to make that important transition. The garden is an extension of the house and no matter what the scale of our property, IF ONE LOOKS AT THEIR GARDEN AS A BEAUTIFUL TRANSITION FROM THE INDOORS TO THE OUTDOORS, THERE ARE ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES. The sun and the shade are 1 way to explore that relationship. It's always important to talk about the scale of a property and the scale of a design solution. That has a very direct relationship to the human scale. Once that is lost, we lose something very important in whatever design problem we're trying to address. This means that if we want to emphasize the architecture, one might want to use very large columns in the home to make the house appear very important and substantial. Conversely, if one wants people or the folks using the space to feel important, then the plant material should be much smaller and the elements will appear smaller compared to them.

Click here for more info

Scale
Whatever the design problem is, the SCALE IS SUCH AN INTEGRAL PART OF GOOD SOLUTIONS. A loss of a sense of scale is something we always have to be careful with in whatever design problem one is involved with. It's one of the basic principles of design. Charles makes it a focal point.

Click here for more info

Horizontal and Vertical Layers
Charles believes that gardens should have good structure and good architecture. THIS GARDEN HAS MANY DIFFERENT LAYERS, BOTH HORIZONTALLY AND VERTICALLY. One notices that in the secondary cross axis that goes through an old well that was existing on the farm. This pathway carries ones eye to the distance and the farm buildings. This provides a great richness along a simple octagonal cross axis that helps tie the rest of the garden together. It draws ones eye to the larger buildings in the distance.

Click here for more info

Vegetable Garden
Richard believes THE VEGETABLE GARDEN is one of the best looking, if not the best looking, vegetable garden he's ever seen. It seems to have a Jeffersonian quality to it. Charles believes in trying to make something utilitarian and beautiful at the same time, that's what's coming through. Jefferson talked about Monticello as being ferme orner, the ornamental farm and something that could be both beautiful and functional at the same time. That's what they were trying to do in this garden. He felt strongly about creating a good, solid framework for this garden. We know that herbs are not necessarily beautiful at all times of the year, but if we have a good framework to grow within, that garden has a better chance of being something we might want to look at in the winter months. The simple framework allows one to use a lot of different plants as well. A lot of different elements. This garden has trees, the Boxwoods, the rustic support system for the Lycopersicon Iycopersicum Tomatoes.

Click here for more info

Creating Spaces
RICHARD LIKES THE SPACES THAT CHARLES HAS CREATED. They're a wonderful mix of the formal, of the informal, of what Mother Nature does and what we do as humans. Charles believes that there's always an interesting juxtaposition between man's line and what nature gives us and we must remember we're part of nature as well. The important thing is to try and aim for harmonious continuity and make our mark in a gentle and sensitive way. Charles has always felt that a landscape architect should act as an interpreter; the land has something to tell us. We have our own stories and the union of those things is what is most important and that is done with an openness of spirit and a sensitivity to the land and to the people around us. That's the most important thing to look at throughout our lives, as designers of landscapes and buildings.

Click here for more info

LINKS:

Complete transcript of the show.

Show #18/1605. Virginia Garden Tour

Virginia is filled with wonderful historic sites and beautiful gardens. In this episode GardenSMART visits 2 gardens that have been featured on the Historic Garden Week Tour.

The Garden Club of Virginia founded in 1920 is one of the oldest and largest garden clubs in America. It has 47 member clubs and about 3,300 members. And, they do a lot of great things. Their largest activity is Historic Garden Week where private gardens are opened to the public viewing across the entire state. Suzanne Munson, Executive Director of Historic Garden Week, tells us more.

She tells us HISTORIC GARDEN WEEK WAS STARTED IN 1929 to raise funds to restore a very important historic garden in Fredricksburg and the tours have been held every year since, with the exception of a period during World War II when the garden club members tended their victory gardens. Every year, during the last full week of April, the Garden Club of Virginia and it's 47 member clubs open approximately 200 of Virginia's most beautiful private gardens and homes. All across the state from the Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge Mountains they offer quite a variety of properties, something for everyone. About 4 centuries of Virginia history are represented in the course of Historic Garden Week.

And they raise a lot of money. Since 1929 the Garden Club of Virginia has raised approximately 15 million dollars. The proceeds are used to restore important public historic gardens throughout Virginia. The list of property owners of those gardens reads like a who's who of American history. They include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Woodrow Wilson. As well the grounds of many historic churches and colleges and universities have benefited, including the most beautiful project, the University of Virginia pavilion gardens.

Suzanne feels honored to be standing at the entrance of Mt. Sharon, which is by any measure, one of the most beautiful private gardens in the entire state of Virginia. It will be the highlight of the garden week tours next year. In fact, these gardens will be on the cover of their guidebook. Mt. Sharon is owned by Mary Lou Seilheimer who has been a very strong and active member of the Garden Club of Virginia. Later in the show, Morrowdale Farm in Albemarle County will be featured. It was a highlight of the tour this past April. These 2 beautiful properties are just samplings of some of the wonderful gardens in store for Garden Week visitors.
Top

Richard meets Mary Lou Seilheimer. MARY LOU IN TURN WELCOMES RICHARD TO MT. SHARON. Mary Lou and her husband, Charlie, are owners of Mt. Sharon. Mary Lou has been involved with the garden club for years and treasures the friends she's made. She has held a number of interesting jobs, from horticulture chairman to vice president to finance chairman and most recently, a year ago, she finished up a two year term as Chairman of the Restoration Committee. Mary Lou has been awarded the Massey Medal for all her work. It is the highest honor that the club can give, that's why it was such a thrill and she really appreciated it.

Mary Lou is also involved with the Boys and Girls Clubs, currently acting as President of the board of the Orange Boys and Girls Club. She cares deeply about the young people of Orange County and feels the Club is doing very important work.

Although Mary Lou is very busy she makes time to become a very strong gardener. She makes time for gardening because it's important to her. She loves gardening, loves the big picture and the small picture. For example, weeding is one of her favorite jobs. She likes to get down on her hands and knees. I feeds her soul. And, it's an excellent way to learn about gardening.
Top

THEY START THE TOUR IN THE OCTAGONAL TERRACE. It's an incredible space with a wonderful view. It looks off to a beautiful Piedmont Virginia view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They knew immediately this was the perfect spot to look at the mountains but there were trees in the way. So, they transplanted the trees, took down four board fencing along the driveway, then to cover up the driveway they planted low Boxwood and from this angle, it totally covers the view of the driveway. That is a perfect use of a small plant to hide something that's not attractive. Beyond the drive is what they call their parking lot. They brought in truckloads of earth, leveled it off so that they would have a place for cars to park when they have big parties and garden tours. Raising the level of the ground also allowed them to hide the fencing of the paddocks below. It's very utilitarian but a perfect frame of a great view. And it's perfectly beautiful.

This space is an octagon but what is special is that when one enters the terrace from the house and looks off to the beautiful view, 2 of the walls of the octagon are boxwood. It's a perfect space. They've done an excellent job of creating an outdoor room using the architecture of the bricks, very strong architectural elements, then the boxwood softens it up a little while still creating a nice wall, a nice enclosure of space. It's a great idea.
If one is trying to create an outdoor room don't be afraid to use architecture, especially if the material on the patio is the same as your house. But as you move toward a more natural look consider using plant material. The fine textured boxwoods work perfectly to frame the space, but also to transition from the sitting area to the great view.
Top

THEY NEXT VISIT THE ROSE GARDEN. It is Richard's favorite. Mary Lou has loved roses since she was a child and has always wanted a big Rose garden. It is well designed. Charles Stick from Charlottesville was the landscape architect and Mary Lou thinks this part of the plan is the best. He was dealing with a hillside, which he terraced, giving the roses good ventilation. It faces south, so they get full sun and then he came up with the idea of twin pergolas, where they can stand in the shade and look out at the beautiful roses.

There are 70 or 80 different roses here. Mary Lou finds it hard to pick a favorite but does like the David Austin Rose, Heritage. It's an all time great. There's an old Rose called New Dawn that is on the entrance to the pergola. It, too, is a wonderful rose. It's carefree, fragrant but does need strong support.

All of the roses look spectacular. Mary Lou thinks several things are particularly important in rose care. Roses like full sun, thus it's important to choose a site with full sun and good air ventilation. Also, roses are heavy feeders. One must plan to fertilize them. Then fungicide. Every 2 weeks one must spray with fungicide but most important if you want beautiful roses they must be watered. Richard doesn't notice overhead irrigation thus knows that drip irrigation must be in place. It is used throughout this garden. It keeps water off the leaves, keeps the fungus down, yet provides ample irrigation. It's a very intelligent use of water.
Top

Next visited is the Knott Garden. KNOTT GARDENS WERE POPULAR IN ELIZABETHAN TIMES. They were meant to represent a lover's knot. The plants are designed to be intertwined and different textures and colors of plants were chosen to show the design more clearly. The 2 different knott gardens are very similar in terms of spacing and size, they're about 16 by 16, but there's just a little difference in each one. The design is meant to be different. They were meant to compliment each other. But, the plant material is the same. They have Crimson pigmy Barberry greengem Boxwood and they're used Alysum around the Boxwoods as ground cover. It will fill in as summer progresses. They've also used brick shards to provide accent and color. The Alysum is white and will fill the dark areas, providing a glow deep in the knott garden. This is something anyone could do if they have small space like a courtyard or a small backyard. Think about a wall of simple plant material, turf, for example, then very minimum number of different plants for a knott garden. The Boxwoods and Barberry work perfectly. The color is different but they're similar enough to make them work together. There's not a lot of maintenance to a garden like this. So, again, keep your plant material very simple and easy. There is a lot of work implementing this type garden but the results can be stunning.
Top

Mary Lou and Richard next visit the mixed border. It is much less formal than the knott garden. IT IS A MIXED BORDER because it has shrubs, perennials, annuals and bulbs. A lot of things are blooming this time of year and they get better and better as the summer goes along. The perennials and annuals bloom in the summer, thus they're next to the pool. When Mary Lou comes to the swimming pool in the summer she wants to see a lot of flowers. Wherever you hang out during that time of year, those are the plants that need to be blooming. Accordingly she puts her spring flowers close to the house because in the cooler weather, she's more likely to be inside.

Mary Lou likes to have flowers blooming from May to October. But that's not an easy thing to do. The way she accomplishes that is to really study the plants before she plants her garden. All plant catalogues tell you what the blooming time is, so choose your plants according to blooming time. Mary Lou also cares about color, so looks for the colors that she wants to go together.

Richard likes not just the plants but how the garden is laid out. There is an edge of blue stone for 2 reasons. 1 it allows them to mow right along the edge and it allows the plants to flow over the edge providing a soft border. That way they're not having to chop the flowers in half to make the edge straight. And the pathway leads the eye to a real nice, long axial view which is something he's noticed in other parts of her garden. The ability to see the long view of an entire space, that was planned for every garden. They're lucky because they do have this elevation and the view goes on forever.

But there are lots of ways to add interest in a garden. One can have a garden structure like the gazebo or a beautiful sculpture, or fountains. There are lots of ways to add interest without just having flowers.

Richard thanks Mary Lou. This is one of the most stunning private gardens he's seen. Mary Lou feels blessed with a beautiful site. The garden they've created is extraordinary and it's given them much pleasure. But, it gives them even more pleasure to share this beautiful garden with the many people that come and visit.

Well Richard has another garden to see. He hates to go but must move on.

Richard next meets Charles Stick. Charles studied landscape architecture at the School of Architecture, then received his master's degree at the University of Virginia. He has lived in Charlottesville ever since. He has clients all over the world. Thomas Jefferson has had an influence in Charles life. Charles feels that it has been a wonderful experience to work in the shadow of Mr. Jefferson, to consider his architecture principles and garden-making principles. All have formed a great background for his practice established over the years.

Charles believes it's important for people, when designing their gardens, to concentrate on 1 important idea. Most try to do too much. The emphasis on a single good idea can lead to great things in garden-making. Secondly, pay attention to the genius of the place and emphasize what's most important about the place in which your garden is found. This is a site centered approach rather than a design centered approach.
Top

THIS HOME IS CALLED MORROWDALE and was on the recent Historic Garden Week tour. Charles, here, was thinking that the most important thing is that Morrowdale is a wonderful 19th century house at the center of a working farm in the countryside of Albermale County. So he tried to tie the beautiful home to it's garden, then tie the garden to the surrounding landscape. And it worked. There is a real sense of connectedness between all the elements. Typical of so many of the wonderful farms in Virginia, the outbuildings play a major part of the utilitarian nature of the place. That was one of the great challenges - to try and organize the buildings along a central spine.
Top

They take a look. The distance from the house to the barn is substantial but Richard likes how Charles has connected them. The important thing was to try to make the life of the wonderful HOUSE CONECT TO THE BARN, while making something that was both useful and beautiful at the same time. The arbor has an interruption incorporated within the sequence from the house to the garden. The interruption affords a great view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is, after all, the punch line in the story. This farm's position and it's relationship to this countryside is what they were trying to emphasize. They have been successful. The idea of going from sun to shade, then back to sun. The back and forth is very inviting, very appealing. This of course works with a large space, but what about a smaller area, something on the order of 1/3 an acre?
Top

Charles thinks its an interesting idea to try and mediate the interior of a house, the shade of the interior of a house with the sunlight of a garden. For instance, the arbor, which has a very human scale to it, is a great way to make that important transition. The garden is an extension of the house and no matter what the scale of our property, IF ONE LOOKS AT THEIR GARDEN AS A BEAUTIFUL TRANSITION FROM THE INDOORS TO THE OUTDOORS, THERE ARE ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES. The sun and the shade are 1 way to explore that relationship. It's always important to talk about the scale of a property and the scale of a design solution. That has a very direct relationship to the human scale. Once that is lost, we lose something very important in whatever design problem we're trying to address. This means that if we want to emphasize the architecture, one might want to use very large columns in the home to make the house appear very important and substantial. Conversely, if one wants people or the folks using the space to feel important, then the plant material should be much smaller and the elements will appear smaller compared to them.
Top

Whatever the design problem is, the SCALE IS SUCH AN INTEGRAL PART OF GOOD SOLUTIONS. A loss of a sense of scale is something we always have to be careful with in whatever design problem one is involved with. It's one of the basic principles of design. Charles makes it a focal point.
Top

Charles believes that gardens should have good structure and good architecture. THIS GARDEN HAS MANY DIFFERENT LAYERS, BOTH HORIZONTALLY AND VERTICALLY. One notices that in the secondary cross axis that goes through an old well that was existing on the farm. This pathway carries ones eye to the distance and the farm buildings. This provides a great richness along a simple octagonal cross axis that helps tie the rest of the garden together. It draws ones eye to the larger buildings in the distance.

An enclosed room along the hallway, or pathway, of this garden is created by Evergreens, by the Boxwood and it will be something that's there throughout the year. This garden should be as strong and sincere in the winter months when the Boxwood are covered with snow as it is today. It's a small space but still very strongly connected to other buildings. Charles believes that if you give a garden a good framework, you can then fill it full of whatever you wish. As long as that framework persists, you'll have something special.
Top

Richard believes THE VEGETABLE GARDEN is one of the best looking, if not the best looking, vegetable garden he's ever seen. It seems to have a Jeffersonian quality to it. Charles believes in trying to make something utilitarian and beautiful at the same time, that's what's coming through. Jefferson talked about Monticello as being ferme orner, the ornamental farm and something that could be both beautiful and functional at the same time. That's what they were trying to do in this garden. He felt strongly about creating a good, solid framework for this garden. We know that herbs are not necessarily beautiful at all times of the year, but if we have a good framework to grow within, that garden has a better chance of being something we might want to look at in the winter months. The simple framework allows one to use a lot of different plants as well. A lot of different elements. This garden has trees, the Boxwoods, the rustic support system for the Lycopersicon Iycopersicum Tomatoes. The Espalier, the wonderful Pyrus malus Apples, the vegetables, the flowers, so many different elements that without the framework could be a feckless mush. Again, if one provides their garden with a good framework and makes certain that the garden has an enclosure and scale which is related to on a human scale, then you can add great variety and still have something very meaningful.
Top

RICHARD LIKES THE SPACES THAT CHARLES HAS CREATED. They're a wonderful mix of the formal, of the informal, of what Mother Nature does and what we do as humans. Charles believes that there's always an interesting juxtaposition between man's line and what nature gives us and we must remember we're part of nature as well. The important thing is to try and aim for harmonious continuity and make our mark in a gentle and sensitive way. Charles has always felt that a landscape architect should act as an interpreter; the land has something to tell us. We have our own stories and the union of those things is what is most important and that is done with an openness of spirit and a sensitivity to the land and to the people around us. That's the most important thing to look at throughout our lives, as designers of landscapes and buildings.
Top

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By Kate Karam, Monrovia

There's really no better time to visit the great public gardens than spring into summer, but why not get off the horticultural highway and see a few lesser known gardens, too! Dotting the country are some truly remarkable places that you may not have heard of but that you need to see. Read more...


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