President’s Home, Richard Bland College, Petersburg, Virginia, April 21, 2015. Photo by Helen y. Holshouser
Tuesday, April 21, 2015, I had the opportunity and supreme pleasure of touring in Petersburg, Virginia during their Historic Garden Week in Virginia. Can you imagine–all over the whole state of Virginia–my home state–during April, there is an open house allowing us to see inside over 250 of the most beautiful gardens, homes,and historic landmarks in the whole state! You can read about it in detail here: http://www.vagardenweek.org/ You can download a pdf of the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week ‘s guidebook with information, pictures, and directions to all of the sites at http://www.vagardenweek.org/assets/documents/hgw15-guidebook-complete.pdf It is full of amazing information and would be helpful in your planning for the tour the next two days, and next year! The fact that this is a volunteer effort is incredibly awesome to me! Hours and hours of hundreds of volunteers have gone in to this effort! We actually toured five sites plus a historic church yesterday, and everywhere we were warmly greeted by Master Gardeners, homeowners, historians and other volunteers! Today I am only writing this post about two of the gardens. I will blog about all the sites in time! My friend Sharon, a neighbor and cousin, took me and my wheelchair and we met my sister Anne and two of her friends, Gail and Sandra, from Richmond. The day was 77 degrees and sunny, glorious! We had a wonderful tour, and were all majorly inspired!
One of the beautiful gardens we toured, surrounded a pond in front of the President’s home on the campus of Richard Bland College in Petersburg. While the home site is gorgeous, look at some of the pictures I took around the small pond just in front of this house! It is called an “Asian Water Feature” in the guidebook, I call it a secret garden, secret from the rest of the world! It looks like it’s modeled upon Monet’s painting of the Japanese Bridge and garden, just that beautiful! I felt a peace settle over me and an inspiration that was just wonderful!
There were Master Gardeners everywhere, and they identified every single plant I asked about, but I could only do my best in trying to remember all the names!
Matching pots flanked the entrance path. Coleus and salvia
Small stream runs under path
path to Asian Water Feaure
Beautiful garden and small pond
President’s Home, Richard Bland College with Asian Water Feature, April 21, 2015, Petersburg, Virginia
Asian bridge feature
cypress tree with knees
snowball bush that will turn white
Kerria japonica ‘Pleniflora’
The second exquisite garden we toured was owned by Dr. and Mrs. Henry Tomlin–by God’s good fortune, we had the opportunity to be escorted and guided through the garden by Dr.Tomlin himself! You could never ask for a more gracious, knowledgeable guide! Afterall, he was the owner and landscaper himself! I suspect we had such good fortune because he wanted to save the rest of his garden from the accident prone, handicapped but enthusiastic garden tourist that was me! We entered on the path through a beautiful gateway and followed the path to the garden. Quickly we came to a grassy park area, surrounded by objets d’art in the lovely gardens which included dogwood trees in the distance and made you go “aaaaahhhh!” It looked like we could walk around the little grassy island, but soon after I ventured out in my power wheelchair, I realized it was wet–very wet! I sunk through the grass and couldn’t move backwards or forwards! My spinning wheels were making tracks, ruts and digging holes in his pristine grassy park! Ooooooh! I felt terrible! We had not met him yet, but my friend helped me out of the chair, and started trying to push the 500 lb. power chair out of the mud/grass! A very kind man came along to help, and it turned out to be Dr.Tomlin,MD, a retired obstetrician, owner, and landscape designer of these beautiful gardens! I offered to pay to have the area I had messed up fixed, and he put me at ease, not even sounding like he’d like to conk me over the head when I’d made such a mess on such an important day! He did say as well, to be gracious, and I imagine to protect his gardens, to let him guide us through the gardens because he knew where it was dry! As it turns out, they own five acres, and have landscaped three of them! We had an amazing tour. I wish I would have had a tape recorder, because perhaps my pictures can, but my memory won’t do him or his garden justice. He told us that when Hurricane Isabelle came through that area in 2003, they lost 120 trees! Getting them all removed was the beginning of this fabulous garden! Just look at this beauty, and I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did!
Dr. and Mrs. Hank Tomlin’s lovely home near Petersburg, Virginia.
My precious sister Anne, waves as she goes in to tour the unique home while Sharon and I elect to start in the gardens.
This sumptuous grassy park welcomes us to the garden.