What event was conceived in Charlottesville, has been replicated with great success worldwide, sells over 30,000 tickets each year, and is the largest volunteer project in the Commonwealth? The answer is Historic Garden Week, sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia.
What started as a two-day fair in 1927 to raise money to preserve Thomas Jefferson’s remaining trees at Monticello has grown to 32 tours over eight consecutive days and has had an estimated $425 million boost on Virginia’s economy.
The results of the first economic impacts study for Historic Garden Week have just been released. Chmura Economics and Analytics of Richmond quantified what the 3,400 volunteers who work on Garden Week each year already know: Garden Week is a big deal.
$11 million in annual economic impact
30,000 tickets sold to visitors from 30 states
$2 million spent by visitors on food, gas, and hotels
$3.2 million spent by homeowners preparing their properties for tour
80,000 copies of the four-color guidebook are distributed annually
2,000 floral arrangements created using plant materials from local gardens
Historic Garden Week holds true to its roots as a fundraiser: 48 historically significant gardens have been restored with funds raised by the tours. The Piedmont region is home to seven of these superb restorations: Oatlands in Leesburg, State Arboretum of Virginia, Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce, Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood, The DuPont Gardens at Montpelier, and the University of Virginia and Monticello in Charlottesville. All of these gardens are regularly open to the public.
Thirty-two tours showcasing 200 private homes and public spaces are on tap for the weeklong festival beginning on April 18th. This year, the James River Plantations will make a welcomed return to the itinerary. The six Piedmont tours (located in Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Leesburg, Morven, Orange, and Warrenton) regularly attract more than 7,000 visitors every year.
See you in the gardens!
For more information: www.vagardenweek.org
Click here for a downloadable/printable guide and map to the sites in the Piedmont.
By Mary Hintermann
Photos by Catriona Tudor Erler