Posts Tagged ‘Garden Club of the Eastern Shore’

Garden Week 2013 On Eastern Shore Virginia– The 80th Annual Event Sponsored By The Garden Club of Virginia

Monday, May 20th, 2013
Cape Charles Southern Tip aerial photo

The Beautiful Southern Tip of the Eastern Shore of Virginia

April, 2013 marked the celebration of the 80th Annual Historic Garden Week in Virginia, presented statewide  by the Garden Club of  Virginia each Spring since 1929.  This year’s official Garden Week book indicated that 178 homeowners all over Virginia, assisted by over 3000 volunteers from the 47  member clubs,  opened their homes and grounds to public tours last week.  Proceeds from the Tours help preserve the grounds of historic landmarks all over the state as well as to  fund scholarships in landscape architecture. The Eastern Shore of Virginia has so many beautiful historic homes that have been preserved and restored that going to the Garden Week open houses here is always a delight.  The homes that are selected  are always great and the last week of April is a perfect time to show gardens in full bloom here on the Shore. This year six waterfront  homes in Northampton County’s beautiful southern tip were opened for Garden Tours  and we devoted our  Saturday afternoon to visiting three of them, two historic and one quite contemporary home.  Each was gorgeous in its own particular way.  I only  wish that interior photos were allowed because the architectural detail is often remarkable in these homes, as is the  decor, including  some outstanding collections.

Old Castle Entrance

Old Castle’s Elegant Approach

Our first stop was at Old Castle, home of  Northampton County Supervisor Rick Hubbard and his wife, Kate.  It’s a lovely  traditional style home  located on the  Cherrystone Creek  inlet from the Chesapeake  Bay  near the historic little  town of Eastville,VA,  seat of Northampton County, well known as the oldest repository of continuous  court records in the nation.  The house itself is of a telescoping design,  a favored architectural style on the Eastern Shore in the 1700 and 1800’s, with a gambrel roof .  The approach to the front door is through a  double row of ancient  boxwoods, taller than I am, and pressing close in,  don’t think that someone the size of Pavarotti could have made it through without a bit of a push, not that I am the size of Pavarotti.  Once inside the spacious foyer, which features a striking custom floor covering by well-known local artist,  Mariam Riggs,  it quickly became clear that a lot of love and work went into the restoration of this lovely home.  My favorite interior architectural details were the two identical fireplace mantels in the  parlor and the dining room.  I’ve not seen any quite like them,  multiple layers of thin carved wood in descending size, sort of like thin steps in descending order, apparently created from a single solid piece of wood,  creating a remarkable effect, especially given the tools of that day.  As part of the Garden theme, each room in a Garden Tour Home has a floral arrangement custom created to compliment the colors and feel of the particular room in which it will be placed. Lots of lovely floral pieces throughout this home, clearly a great deal of  thought and effort went into these arrangements.  Interesting collections abounded, especially Kate Hubbard’s amazing collection of salt cellars — an entire room is devoted to  display shelves featuring nothing but salt cellars.  All shapes and all  kinds, crystal, silver, porcelain, from countries  all over the world– who knew that the Chinese even  used salt cellars or that German salt cellers were generally so ornate ?  But the real showplace was the backyard where Mother Nature  took over the limelight, including one of the most beautiful crape myrtle trees I’ve ever seen as a focal point. Fronting on the Cherrystone Creek inlet,  Old Castle’s fabulous views spread right out to the Chesapeake Bay, totally awe-inspiring, I’m sure  that sunsets are absolutely spectacular.

Old Castle FrontviewOld Castle BackviewOld Castle Crepe Myrtle Tree

Pleasant Prospect  Farm Front View of House

Pleasant Prospect Farm on Cherrystone Creek Inlet

Off next  to nearby Pleasant Prospect Farm, a 170 acre working farm,  home to retired 4 star Admiral  William J. Flannagan, Jr., whose distinguished naval  career included  the very  serious responsibility of being the  Norfolk, VA based  Commandant of the entire US Navy’s  Atlantic Fleet. True to its name,  Pleasant Prospect Farm is indeed quite pleasant, with a  quiet approach through fertile  waterfront farm fields , sun glinting off the glistening  blue waters all the way  down the  driveway.  Passing several outbuildings, including a two story garage with a castle-like  appendage, we arrived at the main house,  a very attractive Dutch  colonial style with two huge pin oaks heralding the front entrance.  The original section of the home can be dated back to the 1750’s. During restoration, support beams were found in their original, unfinished state,  revealing  a numbering system directing the order in which they were to be installed, a rare historic construction detail.  The original wainscoting is also still in place which I believe is fairly unusual. A new kitchen has been added, large, luminous, with a  lightly stained hardwood ceiling adding warmth and texture, a dream kitchen really,with every detail and convenience one could wish for right there, ready to take on anything from a simple omelet to  a large dinner party.  My favorite floral arrangement of the day was here,  the long dining room table the display surface for a striking  composition consisting of  5 small, dark green watermelons  (or maybe they were citrons ),  about 6 inches in diameter, handsomely striped, arranged in a zigzag pattern among fancy curled Lucky  Bamboo stalks which had been arranged  in  delicate vases of  a variety of sizes and shapes, but all  in various hues of  pale green, a pleasing contrast to the deep green of the melons.  Absolutely stunning, kudos to the ladies  who created it.  Once outside in the backyard, we took a few minutes to peek into several of the numerous outbuildings, my favorite being  an elegant little building, light-filled,  housing a built-in marble jacuzzi, waters steaming and swirling, neck muscles could unwind just by looking  at it.  From there, Mother Nature took over the limelight again.  If possible, even broader views of Cherrystone inlet and the Chesapeake Bay were on display here, simply inspiring, no other words  for  it.

Pleasant Prospect backview

Pleasant Prospect Marble JacuzziPleasant Prospect Waterview

Pickets Harbor House Waterside View

Simple Yet Elegant Describes This Pickett’s Harbor Beachfront Home

Then, as they would say on Monty Python, now for something completely different. Leaving  the Eastville area, we headed to the Eastern Shore’s very southern tip, past Cape Charles, nearly to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, to  the Pickett’s Harbor area and a new beach house nestled into the rolling sand  dunes of this unique topography.  Unlike most homes on the  Eastern Shore, this home is  very contemporary, a single story  home, almost a Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie style home,  appearing as if it had just grown out of the ground, looking as natural here as any of the numerous trees and shrubs which surround it.  Cedar sided, it blends  quietly into the  wooded setting right at the edge of the dune line. Yet immediately as you enter  the house you realize that instead of just simply being in a beautiful woods you are actually on the edge of an amazing beach, that although the house is nestled into woods on the front side, the rear of the home is balanced on sparkling, rolling dunes, nothing but sand and swaying sea grasses for hundreds of feet, ending only at water’s edge, where a view of infinite blues takes over the eye’s focus. The house itself, designed by its architect owner, Tom Goffigan, an Eastern  Shore native,  now transplanted to the bright lights of L.A., is long and narrow, basically one room deep in many places, but each of  these bright and airy rooms enjoy fabulous views of  sparkling waters, glistening  sands and  golden sunshine. What more could be asked of such a pristine  setting ?  My favorite room was the screened porch, full house wide, built- in window seats spanning one entire end, framed with wide cedar cross posts forming a soothing  pattern, breezes flowing through, laden with the tangy  sea aromas.   Outside,  a long, low slung  boardwalk zigzags unobtrusively from the house to the end of the dune line, providing an easy path to the beach and protecting the fragile  dune vegetation from being trampled. This is a very handsome home, decorated with all sorts of Eastern Shore memorabilia, old maps, photos, antique fishing reels,  a very restful space indeed, a great home to end our tour with.  From there,  after making a  quick stop at nearby Nottingham Farm Market  to pick up some  tender, picked-that-morning-fresh  local asparagus for dinner,  ever so yummy grilled with lemon butter, we set out for home, a delicious spring treat in hand, the end of an interesting day. (Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr.,Machipongo VA)

Pickets Harbor Screened PorchPickets Harbor BeachPickets Harbor Board Walk To Beach


The 78th Annual House and Garden Tour, Presented April 16th By The Garden Club Of The Eastern Shore of Virginia

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

April 16th  this year dawned cloudy and overcast,  with the weatherman calling  for temperatures  in the low 70’s,  windy conditions in the morning and a really good downpour  beginning shortly after noon.  My husband commented that it was too bad we weren’t going to have a nice sunny day for the Garden Tour but I was just glad we were not going to have anything like the 2 feet of snow on tap that day for Nebraska, the Dakotas, Wisconsin,  Michigan, etc, etc.   ( For some reason, just knowing I am headed out for a spring day,  flowers blooming,  April showers bringing May flowers, etc. ,  feels even better  when I contemplate that snow is slamming some of the western states from here to Kingdom Come but that here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia  we are going to be enjoying some of the temperate weather of  which we are justifiably proud.  I was just so very glad not to be one of the hundreds of motorists stranded in blizzard conditions the entire night of  April 15th  on  I-80  in Nebraska.   Tax Day and a blizzard, whew !   )

Kendall Grove large yellow Colonial style home on Eastern Shore VA

Kendall Grove overlooking Mattawoman Creek, Machipongo VA

At any rate, we each grabbed a little rain jacket and headed out the door for Kendall Grove near Eastville,  only 5 minutes from Blue Heron’s  Machipongo office,  the first of three homes we planned to tour.  Located on  simply spectacular four  acre waterfront point overlooking  Mattawoman Creek,  Kendall Grove is of a distinctive Eastern Shore architectural style called  “Big House, Little House”, which as the name says involves the main house and several smaller  additions.  In the case of Kendall Grove,  this has resulted in a very pleasing home with numerous rooms, each of which offers a unique view of   the gardens, the shoreline and the wide blue waters beyond.  I thought that one of the nicest rooms was the large sunroom which overlooks a pretty little  garden enclosed with white fencing,  a very serene room where one could sit quietly,  reading a good book and just enjoy the relaxed feel of the surroundings.  It goes without saying that this cheerful yellow home is very tastefully furnished, with an interesting  juxtaposition of American and African art.  The grounds were lovely,  creatively shaped flowers beds abounding,  a pool overlooking the inlet  and one of the tallest camillia bushes I have seen,  which was just blooming its heart out for Garden Tour Day !  As we were leaving, we stopped for a moment to chat with a fellow on the back porch who turned out to be none other than Tayloe Murphy who served for many years in the Virginia House of Delegates, served as Virginia’s  Secretary of  Natural Resources under Governor Mark Warner and was a  real motivating  force behind the passage of the Chesapeake Bay Protection Act in Virginia,  a venerable gentleman indeed.


Eyre Hall large historic home in Eastville VA

Eyre Hall, on the National Register of Historic Places and A Virginia Landmark in Eastville VA

From Kendall Grove we slipped south a few miles to Eyre Hall,  listed on the National Register of Historic Places and well as being  a Virginia  Landmark.  At the end of a long, long driveway, bordered by huge cedar and crepe myrtle trees,  is this  amazing house,  circa 1758, built on the shores of the famous Cherrystone Creek.  The current owner is an eighth generation decendent of the original owner and has maintained the home and the gardens in mint condition.  The downstairs, with its extensive collection of period furniture and collectibles,  has an almost museum-like quality and includes a framed thank-you letter from General Lafayette to General Robert Barraud Taylor for his kind hospitality on the occasion of Lafayette’s visit to Eyre Hall shortly after the War of 1812.  On the way to tour the upstairs we took a quick peek into a  little den/library tucked  next to the kitchen,  outfitted with a  comfy sofa,  a little TV and a wall of  books.  I love reading and I love looking at other people’s books,  I think seeing what other people read is quite interesting and says a quite a bit about a  person.  This library contains, among many others,  a great many  books on southern architecture as well as landscaping,  not unexpected considering that Eyre Hall and its extensive  gardens can be counted among  the finest in Virginia.  And I loved the upstairs–  such a contrast to  the very, very formal downstairs,  vivid bedrooms with descriptive  names like  the  “Green Room” and the  “Lavender Room”,  complete with colorful bathrooms to match.   It struck me that seeing the upstairs was sort of the Virginia gentry version of  being able to see the family quarters of the White House after touring the State Dining Room or the Oval Office ( maybe not a great analogy but it felt a bit like that.)   I would be remiss not to say that the formal gardens,  which have been maintained continuously since 1800,  are  absolutely spectacular,  a multitude of small gardens and  beautiful plantings separated by almost ancient boxwood borders.  The ooh’s and ah’s of visitors,  many taking pictures of especially interesting specimens,  were audible everywhere.  Eyre Hall’s gardens are so extensive you really must  see them to appreciate them.  According to the official brochure,  this is the seventh decade that Eyre Hall has been  the centerpiece of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Garden Tour,  so try to come next year and see its beauty for yourself.


Bellevue, a lovely waterfront home in Onancock VA

Bellevue overlooking Onancock Creek, an inlet from the Chesapeake Bay

From Eyre Hall we headed north to Onancock, our last stop of the day,  but first a bit of sustenance at Mallard’s On The Wharf,  an excellent local bistro located in the historic Hopkins General Store building.  They were,  of course,  jammed but we managed to get a nice table upstairs overlooking the water and enjoyed a most pleasant lunch of clam chowder with an excellent crabcake sandwich, ( all crabmeat,  no fillers,  as owner Johnny Mo likes to point out ).  After lunch we headed out for Bellevue on Onancock Creek.  Fortunately, the weather was still holding out- skies were overcast but no sign yet of any rain,  I was so happy for the owners  who had so graciously opened their homes for this charity event.  I can’t even imagine how I would feel about hundreds of   just in from the rain, dripping wet  visitors walking through my house  ( of course I’m sure they put carpet protectors down but still, rain doesn’t make the best situation).  Built on the shores of Onancock Creek in 1978,  Bellevue was one of the most recently built homes on the tour and included a charming pool and pool house.  It is a good example of how a modern waterfront home can have two facades- the  home as it faces the street presents as a lovely Colonial home but on the water side  its many large windows enable the owners to enjoy many fine views of their dock and the broad saltwaters beyond. The large sunroom overlooks a fenced perennials garden with criss-crossing walkways and an especially attractive  gate.  A family graveyard sits close to the pool house whose path is guarded by a very creative  creature fashioned from old clay flowerpots.  Just before leaving  I stopped to  take a photo of   “Flowerpot Person”  and another visitor,  who kindly stopped to let me finish the shots,  said  You’re going to make one of those aren’t you ?   And maybe I will…..