Day Three Destination for Historic Garden Week: The Pavilions and Gardens at the University of Virginia

 

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Spring is here! On the Lawn, looking west at Pavilions. ©betsygibsondesign

Spring is here! On the Lawn, looking west at Pavilions. ©betsygibsondesign

If you go nowhere else, go here…to UVA’s Pavilions and Gardens

Monday, Day Three of Historic Garden Week in Virginia

Welcome to Monday!!! It’s Day Three of Historic Garden Week in Virginia, and we’ve come to my all time favorite tour day, because along with the beautiful and historic James River Plantations and the understated yet utterly chic Middleburg farms, the University of Virginia’s Pavilions and Gardens are also open for touring today.

Today (Monday, April 24) will be the only day that the Pavilion Homes and Gardens will be open for touring. If it were me, I would hit Charlottesville and the University today. (I only wish that the Albemarle County-Charlottesville properties were still on tour today!) As it is, I will be working to prepare arrangements with my mother for the Williamsburg tour on Tuesday, April 24. So please go soak in what I'm going to have to miss this year!

The Lawn. University of Virginia. Photographer Unknown.

The Lawn. University of Virginia. Photographer Unknown.

UVA and The Garden Club of Virginia

1940s and 1950s

The University of Virginia and the Garden Club of Virginia (“GCV”) have enjoyed a long history together. In the late 1940s, the Garden Club of Virginia began the restoration of the West Lawn Pavilion Gardens. Between 1947 and 1953, the Garden Club of Virginia worked with Alden Hopkins, a landscape architect from Colonial Williamsburg, to design the Pavilion Gardens. He designed all 10 of the gardens and also the famous serpentine walls, which are (and I remember this from when I tried out for University Guides--and did not make the very last cut!!!) one brick thick.

One brick thick. Serpentine Wall at the University of Virginia. Photographer Unknown.

One brick thick. Serpentine Wall at the University of Virginia. Photographer Unknown.

1960s

Hopkins designed the University’s gardens to reflect Thomas Jefferson’s gardens at Monticello, as well as the gardens of Williamsburg. He included mature shade trees, large shrubs and both modern era and colonial era plantings. Unfortunately, Mr. Hopkins died before he had the opportunity to move on to the East Lawn gardens, and those were restored between 1960 and 1965 by Donald Parker and Ralph Griswold.

As far as the gardens themselves, six of them are divided in half by serpentine walls, creating upper and lower gardens as a result. The upper gardens, the Pavilion Gardens, are formal in design.

UVA Garden. Photographer Unknown.

UVA Garden. Photographer Unknown.

The lower gardens, or Hotel Gardens as they are known (named after dining halls that were once located in the vicinity), are decidedly more utilitarian in nature and design. All of the landscape architects, in creating their designs, regardless of who they are or were or when they came to the restoration effort, have relied upon an engraving of the Lawn, created in 1822 by Peter Maverick of New York. (And I must apologize for the size of this photo. I could not find anything larger—anywhere!!)

Peter Maverick’s Engraving of the Lawn at the University of Virginia, 1822. Note the six Gardens with Upper and Lower tiers. Courtesy:  The Thomas Jefferson Institute, Inc.

Peter Maverick’s Engraving of the Lawn at the University of Virginia, 1822. Note the six Gardens with Upper and Lower tiers. Courtesy: The Thomas Jefferson Institute, Inc.

The 1980s

By the 1980s, when I was a student at the University, the gardens were again in need of a sprucing up. I actually remember when work was being done on the Gardens, because the red clay, when it was wet, was inescapable. And with the digging up of the Gardens so close to where we all walked to and from classes, we were bound to end up with its staining our Bean boots. Ah, that wonderful red clay. (And I'm not kidding--I love it!!). But the gardens have recently undergone further restoration, and the University has undertaken a fantastic initiative called the Jeffersonian Grounds Initiative, which aims to protect, restore and maintain the Grounds and the buildings that make up Jefferson’s Academical Village.

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends. Before walking the Lawn. 1990.

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends. Before walking the Lawn. 1990.

Jefferson and the Rotunda. UVA. Photo:  PBS .

Jefferson and the Rotunda. UVA. Photo: PBS.

UVA ID.

UVA ID.

2000s

The Pavilion III Garden was the starting point for the most recent restoration, beginning around 2003, and under the direction of the landscape architect William D. Rieley and the University’s landscape architect, Mary Hughes, the garden was rebuilt to Hopkins’ original specifications. The restoration of Pavilion VI Garden came next, and through the years, every garden has been the subject of careful attention.

If you are interested in seeing the progress made with the various restorations, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture has some spectacular photos of the gardens. Definitely worth a look! Also worthy of a look, or a read, is this essay about "space" and Jefferson's "academical village" by Jim Cocola. It goes into quite a bit of detail about things other than simply how and why the University was laid out as it was and gives even the most "informed" (or so she thought) reader some things to ponder.

Pavilion II. From UVA Magazine. Take a look at this neat interactive Garden Week special from UVA/Virginia Magazine. (*Note: I disabled the link because it no longer worked. I will look into where the interactive piece was, because it was really a cool thing…)

Pavilion II. From UVA Magazine. Take a look at this neat interactive Garden Week special from UVA/Virginia Magazine. (*Note: I disabled the link because it no longer worked. I will look into where the interactive piece was, because it was really a cool thing…)

The Rotunda Restoration. Because the Gardens and Pavilions aren’t the only kids on the block! From the  UVA Rotunda Construction Blog .

The Rotunda Restoration. Because the Gardens and Pavilions aren’t the only kids on the block! From the UVA Rotunda Construction Blog.


And finally, because I love the other destinations, too!~

Westover, Berkeley and Shirley Plantations

Sunday’s blog post was all about Westover, one of the James River Plantations that is also open for touring today. Along with Berkeley Plantation and Shirley Plantation, Westover will spend a total of three days open to the public for Historic Garden Week. Tuesday, April 24, will be the final day for touring the interiors of these early-mid 18th century houses. If it is at all possible for you to make it to Charles City County (Route 5 between Richmond and Williamsburg), I strongly suggest that you try—these plantations and their grounds are extraordinary and should not be missed!

Middleburg

While I have not seen the Middleburg properties on the tour this year—three out of the four have never been featured—they all sound fantastic. And one thing that makes them particularly attractive, aside from their location in the breathtakingly beautiful Virginia Piedmont region, is the fact that each one is so different from the next.

According to the Guidebook, the Middleburg tour will feature a late 18th century Federal style home (plus outbuildings) which is located on a farm in Paris, VA. The farm itself is protected by a conservation easement (and, as I think I remember from my days at Vanderbilt Law School, easements run with the land, which means that the land that makes up the farm itself will always be subject to the terms of the easement, regardless of who may purchase the land in the future). The farm is also surrounded by 2,000 acres of untouchable land, though it is unclear to me from reading the Guidebook whether this land is protected by the same easement--ie, whether it is part of the parcel owned by the same party/parties who own the farm--or whether it is protected under a different easement (or other instrument or mechanism). Regardless, how beautiful to be surrounded by 2,000 protected acres!! The Middleburg tour also includes a 19th century fieldstone house in Upperville, the previously featured and always loved Peace and Plenty at Bolingbrook and an equestrian estate boasting a house modeled after the traditional farmhouses of Provence. And the Sporting Library (the renovated and expanded Vine Hill) is also included on the tour—an interesting place to catch up on your knowledge of equestrian and field sports!

Get Ready for Tuesday…

Have fun today, and get ready for TUESDAY, when I will feature Williamsburg in the blog! (By the way, I think I remember Pavilion Garden VII as having been my favorite.....if you see it, please take some photos and send them along. I'd love to see them!)

xobetsy