Enjoy tours, tea and visit to four plantations during Historic Garden Week in Virginia April 27 – May 4, 2019
If you are interested in hidden gems, you must visit Hopewell’s Weston Plantation (1789), the only plantation house remaining on the Appomattox River. This year, Weston Plantation will open Garden Week and its spring season with a tea sponsored by the Appomattox Garden Club on Sunday, April 28. Members of the Appomattox Garden Club decorate the three floors of the house with seasonal arrangements, chosen to complement the decor of each room. The arrangements will remain in place through May 4 for Garden Week in Virginia.
“Southern ladies know how to entertain!” says Chesterfield resident Sherry Conklin. “This lovely tea is as nice as any event I have attended. The food is homemade by the ladies of the garden club – from cucumber sandwiches, ham biscuits, chicken salad puffs and cheese sticks to cookies and candies, along with a traditional fruit punch. Once you have been to the Weston tea, you’ll want to go back again.”
It’s not easy to find Weston. If you’re not careful, you might miss the small sign at on the right side of Rt. 10, which points to Weston. The sign is just after Rt. 10 crosses the Appomattox River, heading south from Richmond. From the sign, you follow a narrow winding road leading to Weston Lane and the Manor House.
Plantations on the James River
Berkeley, Shirley and Westover Plantations on the James River in Charles City are offering a special $45 combination ticket through the Garden Club of Virginia on April 28, 29 and 30. The combo ticket allows access to the grounds and gardens, outbuildings and interiors of all three historic sites as well as Westover Episcopal Church (1730), which is offering a lunch by advanced reservation.
The visitor will find the plantations on historic Rt. 5 just outside Richmond. Here you step back in time, driving through quiet, undisturbed woodlands and farms, where early landowners established their plantations on grants from the British crown in the 1600 and 1700s.
Shirley Plantation, founded in 1613 as Virginia’s first plantation, is located on 700 acres above the James River about 30 miles outside of Richmond and 35 miles from Williamsburg. The 11th generation of direct Carter descendants live in the plantation house and manage the farm.
The grounds are open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily, with tours on the hour. On Sunday, April 28, Shirley Plantation is offering Afternoon Tea with Mrs. Carter. Upper Shirley Vineyards, located near the Plantation, offers visitors wine tastings, lunch, and appetizers.
Berkeley Plantation, where early settlers observed the first Thanksgiving in 1619, is ancestral home of the Harrison family – Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence; William Henry Harrison, 9th U.S. President; and Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president. Tours are conducted daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Westover, the grandest of the James River Plantations was built by William Byrd II in the mid-18th century. Byrd, the founder of Richmond, is known for his early explorations and diaries of his life in Virginia. His library at Westover consisted of 4000 volumes.
Westover’s grounds and gardens are open daily, 10am – 5pm, and interior house tours can be scheduled by appointment. The grounds include three 18th-century English wrought-iron gates. The pillars of the iron gate on the north side of the house, now abandoned, give testament to the grandeur of the plantation.
Nearby, Westover Episcopal Church includes burial plots of a number of prominent Virginians, including the first Benjamin Harrison of Berkeley and his wife as well as William Byrd I and his wife and William Byrd II’s daughter, Evelyn Byrd, often seen as a friendly ghost at Westover.
The nation’s only statewide house and garden tour, Historic Garden Week allows visitors to see Virginia’s gardens at the peak of spring color. Homes and manor houses on the tour are decorated with more than 2,300 flower arrangements created by members of the Garden Club of Virginia. For more information on the plantation tours and other Garden Week activities and to purchase combination tickets, visit www.vagardenweek.org. Tour proceeds fund the restoration and preservation of gardens throughout Virginia.
For information on the Appomattox Garden Club tea at Weston Manor, contact the Hopewell and Prince George Visitor Center at https://www.visithpg.com/visitor-center or call Carolyn Hoagland at 804-334-2684.