A great Virginia tradition

Published 6:42 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Short Rows Header Image    One of Virginia’s nicest traditions is Historic Garden Week. This 89-year-old tradition ushers in spring in the Old Dominion, falling during the peak blooming period for shrubbery and other perennials across the state.

    The Garden Club of Virginia began the tours in 1927 when it held a flower show to raise funds to save trees planted by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. Since then, it just wouldn’t be spring in Virginia without Garden Week.

    Once every several years, Isle of Wight lands one of the many tours planned around Virginia, and this year it will be a duesy. The Franklin, Nansemond River and Elizabeth River Garden Clubs have worked together to pull off one of the most unique tours in a long time.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

    Titled “Down Country Lanes,” the tour, scheduled for this Saturday, will highlight historic country homes in Isle of Wight County. They include Six Oaks, built in 1750 and occupied by General Cornwallis’ army in 1781 (before Yorktown, naturally). Boykin’s Tavern, located at Isle of Wight Courthouse and owned by the county, is a fully restored courthouse tavern. Oak Level, just down the road from the Courthouse was owned by generations of Isle of Wight clerks of court.

    Then, there is the Thomas Darden House, a two-story federal period home and the Davis Day House, a gorgeous brick Flemish bond cottage.

    But the Isle of Wight tour is more than a static display of houses and grounds. The clubs have pulled together Revolutionary War re-enactors, have retained a hammer dulcimer musician and are planning a smoked ham demonstration.

    Tickets for the tour are available at the Isle of Wight Visitors Center. They are also available at the Suffolk Visitors Center. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 the day of the tour.

Got to be skunks

    We’re learning to live with skunks in Isle of Wight. Forty years ago, they were virtually non-existent here, but when they moved in, they did so quickly and now, it’s nothing unusual to smell the pungent sent of spray, particularly in the morning after a night of foraging by neighborhood skunks.

    Another sign of skunks is the holes they dig in search of grubs. They’re bigger than the holes that squirrels dig and there are usually a lot of them in an area that has been hunted by skunks the previous night.

    In the nature of things, the holes are a sign that something is eating insects you don’t want around, so that’s not all bad. You just don’t want to interrupt the hunter at work.