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Called "America's Largest Open House", Historic Garden Week in Virginia is the oldest and largest state-wide house and garden tour event in the USA.

Garden Week tours have been held annually on the last full week of April since 1929. The only exception was during World War II when members of The Garden Club of Virginia spent time tending their Victory Gardens. Historic Garden Week entices visitors with more than 30 tours.

More than 3,400 members of The Garden Club of Virginia, their friends and supporters create the tours and events. They use the proceeds to restore historic gardens and landscapes in Virginia.

Location of house and garden tours

Tours take place in the country, cities and suburbs, from Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Five or six houses and gardens are featured on each tour. Many of the private houses and gardens will open to the public for the first time.

Visitors see homes representing a variety of architectural styles: Colonial plantations, Victorian farm houses, beautifully restored urban town houses, suburban estates and waterfront properties with glass walls. Gardens include formal 18th-century terraces, backyard habitats, boxwood mazes, walled city enclosures and cutting, water, herb and secret gardens.

Houses on Garden Week Tours range from the Colonial era and American Revolution to the Civil War and Victorian periods, as well as houses built this century.

Garden Week Guidebook

A 220-page guidebook includes descriptions of houses and gardens on the tours, driving directions, ticket prices and names and phone numbers for local tour organizers. To order the guidebook, mail a donation to Historic Garden Week, 12 E. Franklin St., Richmond, VA 23219.

Visitors usually drive to the tour area, where hostess guides welcome them to the open properties. Members of The Garden Club of Virginia create spectacular flower arrangements with native plants and seasonal flowers for each house on the tour.

Garden Tour tickets

The cost of Garden Week tour tickets vary for each event. Visitors can buy tickets on the tour day at open houses and gardens or at designated information centers. You do not need to buy tickets in advance, however groups may want to purchase advance tickets from the website or local tour chairmen. The Garden Week website lists tour dates on its schedule page. Tours are held rain or shine.

Special events

Garden Week tour participants can attend special events, such as flower arranging demonstrations, presentations by Master Gardeners, performances by local musicians, fashion shows and homemade lunches prepared by church groups.

Talks on Thomas Jefferson, as a gardener, will be held at Monticello during the week. Guided tours of Jefferson's lovely Pavilion Gardens, at the University of Virginia, show visitors how The Garden Club of Virginia used funds from Garden Week tours for restoration work.

Historic Virginia gardens

Proceeds from Historic Garden Week tours also restored the gardens and grounds of historic Virginians, like George Washington and his mother, Mary Ball Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James and Dolley Madison, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Robert E. Lee and Woodrow Wilson.

These historic properties are open to the public, as well as several other beautiful Garden Club of Virginia restored gardens.