An Insider’s Guide to Virginia’s Historic Garden Week

Virginia is for all kinds of “lovers,” including flower lovers! For one week in April, you can enjoy Historic Garden Week, also known as America’s largest open house. During the week-long extravaganza, you can take part in one of 28 unique tours organized and hosted by 48 member clubs. The clubs come from various parts of Virginia from the Shenandoah Valley to Tidewater.

About Historic Garden Week

Historic Garden Week is presented by the Garden Club of Virginia — a historic organization that started in 1920 with eight founding members. The club officially started the Historic Garden Week in 1929 as a way to help preserve Virginia’s historic public gardens. The idea for the event was sparked by a small flower show in 1927 that raised $7,000 to take care of trees planted by Thomas Jefferson on the lawn at Monticello.

An Insider’s Guide to Virginia’s Historic Garden Week

Since 1929, Historic Garden Week has grown in size and now attracts almost 30,000 visitors from around the country. The event has only been canceled twice since its inception: once during WWII and again during the 2020 COVID lockdowns. It remains one of the biggest contributors to Virginia’s state and regional economies, earning around $518 million since the 1970s. The proceeds raised from the various tours are used to primarily fund the restoration of Virginia’s historic gardens and provide graduate-level research fellowships for students in landscape architecture.

Attractions and Tours

Historic Garden Week is a coordinated effort between the 48 garden clubs that will take you through public and private gardens as well as historic sites. Virginia is at its height of springtime blooming during Historic Garden Week so you won’t be disappointed by nature’s beautiful display. You can expect to see tulips, peonies, azaleas, dogwoods, and more!

An Insider’s Guide to Virginia’s Historic Garden Week

To make sure you don’t miss anything, you should pick up a copy of Historic Garden Week’s guidebook, which is offered for free at many businesses in Virginia. The 200-page guidebook provides descriptions of tour sites and logistical information for all 28 tours. If you don’t live in Virginia, you can download the PDF online at the Garden Club of Virginia or pay $20 to have it shipped to you.

An Insider’s Guide to Virginia’s Historic Garden Week

Speaking of tours, they are one of the best ways to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the attractions. Depending on the tour you choose, you may be required to book in advance or in-person. The cost of the tours range in price from $20 to $60 and some even include a lunch for an additional fee. You won’t be able to go on every tour during the week-long event, so make sure you consider your choices carefully! if it’s your first time at Historic Garden Week, some great tours to check out include:

An Insider’s Guide to Virginia’s Historic Garden Week

If that’s not enough, each tour destination will have a gorgeous floral arrangement created by Garden Club of Virginia members or a total of 2,200!

General Information

You can go on as many tours as you like, but you will need to purchase a separate ticket for each one. There will be a few tours in 2022 that have reduced capacity due to COVID-19 health precautions, while others offer two time slots for tours to ensure social distancing. While it’s best to purchase tickets in advance, many tours do offer day-of tickets, though they cost an additional $10 per person. While the event generally doesn’t offer refunds, due to the unique circumstances involving COVID-19, you can make cancellations until 4 p.m. on April 4, 2022.

An Insider’s Guide to Virginia’s Historic Garden Week

Photography of any kind is prohibited inside tour properties and some exteriors as well. Make sure to look for appropriate signage and follow them. Otherwise, you might be asked to leave. It might be tempting to take pictures, especially since it’s so easy to snap a picture with your phone, but some of these locations are private homes and gardens. Luckily, many of the host garden clubs post professional-quality pictures of the arrangements on social media, so you can always enjoy them that way!

The Garden Club of Virginia takes safety very seriously, so make sure to abide by the following rules:

An Insider’s Guide to Virginia’s Historic Garden Week
Enjoy Spring in Virginia by Attending Historic Garden Week

While you can enjoy the beauty of spring in Virginia by simply driving around and enjoying the many national parks, there’s something to be said about visiting during Historic Garden Week. You’ll often have access to gardens that are not open to the public normally all while learning something new about the area or flowers. Plus, it’s a great activity for the whole family! Even if you can’t make it for 2022, the 2023 dates are already out so you can plan ahead.