Spring has sprung and what better way to celebrate than to stop and smell the roses … or lilies, or peonies, or tulips?
Virginia is home to the nation’s oldest and largest house and garden tour, and every spring, about 200 private homes, gardens and historical properties open their doors to flower enthusiasts. This year’s statewide event features 31 tours—and a number of them are right here in Northern Virginia. From April 27-May 4, look for tours in Alexandria, Leesburg, Warrenton and McLean. We got a sneak peek of what to expect in McLean, which is staged by the The Garden Club of Fairfax.
“People love to go [to Garden Week] because they get great ideas about gardens, home décor and see a part of the city that they wouldn’t normally get to see,” says Debbie Williams, the 2019 Historic Garden Week co-chair for The Garden Club of Fairfax. The club “tries to present the welcome and the graciousness of being in the state of Virginia. Our tour is unique in that they are welcomed like they are coming into our home.”
The McLean tour starts at Trinity United Methodist Church (1205 Dolley Madison Blvd.), where tour-goers will be served light refreshments. The five tour stops are all within a 12-minute drive. Proceeds from tickets go toward active restoration sites such as Mount Vernon and Monticello. // Historic Garden Week, McLean: April 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; advance tickets $40, day-of $50
8313 Woodlea Mill Road
It’s easy to feel transported to Tuscany at this Italianate villa. Inside, a 20-foot ceiling in the foyer with a 7-foot bronzed sculpture of two ballet dancers welcomes guests. But it’s actually outside that’s the real showstopper. Perfectly manicured, European-style gardens split into garden “rooms” include roses, hydrangeas, crepe myrtles and more. Plus, don’t miss the impressive topiaries.
6800 Churchill Road
Charles de Gaulle slept here. This house is steeped in Virginia history, including a visit from Gen. de Gaulle, along with the fact that Union troops occupied the property during the Civil War. The president of the McLean Historical Society will be on hand to give talks about the home’s history. Garden lovers, look for the large sycamore tree where Gen. George McLellan used to tie his horse during the Civil War.
1204 Daviswood Drive
Only the gardens are open to tour-goers here, but they’re definitely worth a look. The home’s owner restored the garden in the last three years and transformed the outdoor space into an oasis. The saltwater swimming pool with dancing fountains sets the scene, plus multiple garden rooms feature an array of blooming flowers and shrubs.
Old Langley Ordinary
1101 Chain Bridge Road
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this home features Civil War history mixed with modern conveniences. Its “ordinary” name signifies that after the Civil War, when it was used as a Union hospital, it became an ordinary tavern or meetinghouse. After a recent three-year renovation, it kept the historic character, but added state-of-the-art appliances, electronically controlled music and more. Garden lovers, look for the 900 tulips in its garden beds, plus plenty of indigenous Virginia plantings.
Contemporary on the Hill
6331 Old Chesterbrook Road
This home is “just as calm as the others are exciting,” says Williams. The Japanese-influenced house features natural stone, wood and glass, along with a Japanese gate, a standing-stone Buddha statue and a birdbath with a statue of an in-flight bird. Impressive lighting includes a paper chandelier by artist Oh Mei Ma and a red Italian Murano glass chandelier. Kids will love the stand-alone playhouse on the hill, while garden lovers won’t want to miss the tiered garden filled with a rainbow of colors.