The 70th Annual Garden Week on The Eastern Shore of Virginia

by: Marlene email

House 5

Saturday marked the 84th Annual Virginia Historic Garden Week statewide and the 70th Eastern Shore Virginia Annual Garden Week sponsored locally by the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Five beautiful properties were opened for visitors to view both the homes and grounds. It was an otherwise busy day for me at Blue Heron Realty so I had to choose just one.  Because of its waterfront setting and history, I selected Vaucluse House located on Church Neck about 25 minutes from the little historic town of Cape Charles, VA. 

Built circa 1784, Vaucluse was the seat of the prominent Upshur family. By 1829, one of its most notable heirs, Abel Parker Upshur, had expanded their holdings into a grand Virginia plantation.  But young Abel, an attorney, had grander ambitions, becoming a judge and eventually becoming Secretary of the Navy and then Secretary of State, both under President John Tyler. As Secretary of the Navy, Upshur established the Navel Observatory in Washington DC, one of the oldest scientific agencies still in existence today, in charge of the critically Old Naval Observatoryimportant positioning, navigation and timing for the US Department of Defense as well as the US Navy. It also operates the US Master Clock for GPS satellites, all pretty darn important. And Blair House, the official residence of the Vice President,  is located on the Observatory grounds. So young Abel did some really impressive work during his tenure which was cut short when he died in an explosion aboard the new steamship, USS Princeton, during a demonstration cruise along the Potomac River in 1884. In addition to the continuing importance of the Naval Observatory, his legacy also includes 2 navy ships named in his honor, a number of streets plus counties in several states named for him, as well as Mount Upshur in Alaska. 

Meanwhile, back to the 2017 Eastern Shore Garden Tour. The Upshur plantation lands have long been divided off inVaucluse blue aerial looking north 2006to neighborhoods and small farms but the grand old home, Vaucluse, built by Abel Upshur’s father, Littleton, remains proudly centered on a 5 + acre tract overlooking one of  the Shore’s most colorful inlets from the Chesapeake Bay, Hungar’s Creek. The house has been fully restored and a large addition plus a carriage house have recently been added. Of frame construction with brick ends and impressive classical brick chimneys, the main house features the classic superb interior woodwork and design found in grand historic homes from that period.  For the Tour,  each room was decorated with  fabulous original floral arrangement created by Garden Club members for the occasion, designed specifically to complement the colors and attributes of that particular room. Beautiful views of the park- like setting and the blue waters of the inlet create a special harmony between the grounds and the home.  Guarded at the entrance by brick columns flanked by two towering evergreen trees,  Vaucluse’s formal shrub gardens, an herb garden and the fountain garden are just a part of the magic of this property.  A great addition to Garden Week, special thanks to the owners for opening their lovely property to the public last Saturday.  Garden Tour proceeds help fund important preservation projects for more than 40 historic public gardens as well as research fellowships and projects with Virginia State Parks, all to the benefit of the citizens of our great Commonwealth. #VirginiasScenicEasternShore

House with Flower GardensGardenGardensBig GardensDock 2Table of Flowers with water views

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