Tiptoe through: Local gardens-- glimpses of glory

Pooped-out from planting perennials? Not sure how to add shape and variety to your backyard, or enhance the curb appeal out by the mailbox? Tired of the same old shrubs, year after year after year? 
No matter what the scale of your own house and garden-– be it Belmont bungalow or gracious Glenmore estate– you can surely get some ideas and inspiration from the masters during Historic Garden Week. From Tuesday, April 22 to Thursday, April 24, a grand bouquet of tours and related events will blossom in and around Charlottesville.
As for Historic Garden Week proper, Oakwood, owned by John and Renée Grisham, tops the list of private garden tours. The approximately 240 acres were part of a land grant from King George III in 1758; Governor Frances Fauquier signed the sheepskin deed.
The gardens have been designed to flow gracefully with the landscape, mixing old and new as though they have always been there. Many special features abound, including a secret garden surrounded by old boxwoods, a formal rose garden, an allée of dogwoods and azaleas, a croquet greensward, and a purple conservatory set before a reflecting pool.
But don’t go looking for a peep of the master’s writing table. This is a “gardens only” tour.
Perhaps an easier ticket is the Chopping Bottom Farm tour. Inspired by the designs of Washington, D.C., architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen, Anne and Tony Vanderwarker’s 1999 home, stuccoed in white with galvanized aluminum roofs, has a stylized farmhouse look. From the house one looks out on a 70-foot lap pool and the Southwest Mountains.
The surrounding grounds include a delightful freestanding screen porch and five compact herb and flower gardens. A whimsical outdoor living room furnished with Phillipe Starck furniture is set on a gravel carpet. The house received Metropolitan Home Magazine’s House of the Year Award in 2002. The house, grounds, and two studios will be open.
Stillhouse Mountain Farm, Limestone Farm, Keswick Hall, and a Festival of Flowers at the Farmington Country Club fill out the fragrant offerings.
Of related interest is Patricia Kluge’s annual Albemarle House Flower Show, benefiting children’s charities. Open to the public Tuesday-Thursday are the Albemarle House Conservatory, the chef’s Herb Garden, a special Succulent Garden installation, and a Colonial Woodland Walk surrounding the newly opened Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard Farm Shop. Definitely worth the drive, especially if you’re in the mood for a gourmet picnic. 

Historic Garden week in Charlottesville-Albemarle runs Tuesday, April 22, through Thursday, April 24. Ticket prices and availability vary; call 295-3141 or visit VAGardenweek.org. Patricia Kluge’s Albemarle House Flower Show and tours coincide with Garden Week. Tickets ($10) are available at the Kluge Estate Winery and Farm Shop, And George, Kenny Ball Antiques, and The Store at the Boar’s Head Inn. 984-4855 or klugeestate.com.