Each spring, visitors are welcomed to over 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks during The Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week, known as “America’s Largest Open House.” This statewide event provides visitors a unique opportunity to see unforgettable gardens at the peak of Virginia’s springtime color, as well as beautiful houses sparkling with over 2,000 flower arrangements created by Garden Club of Virginia members.
Locally, The Chatham Garden Club will host tours of three homes and gardens located in The Water’s Edge community on Friday, April 24. House styles include an Old World farmhouse, a French Country house, and a river plantation house, each with magnificent lake and garden views. The Water’s Edge Country Club, named one of Golf Digest’s five best golf courses in the country, is available as a lunch venue. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.vagardenweek.org
Here, enjoy a first look at the properties featured on the tour.
The Davenport House
240 Island View Drive, Penhook
This “Old World farmhouse” on the lake, built in 2010, has a relaxed feeling of age and charm that exudes comfort. Visitors enter the stone façade through pine doors salvaged from the Helm Tobacco Warehouse in Lynchburg. The great room area is warm with light from the ceiling-to-floor lakeside windows and heart pine floors. The same Helm Warehouse pine forms the coffered kitchen, reinforcing the feel of Old World craftsmanship throughout. Artwork collected by the owners in Europe and South America along with works from American artists, antique furniture, English china, and Oriental and Mexican rugs contribute to the Old World ambiance.
The lower level houses a European wine cellar with pine doors from the Dan River Mill Cotton Storage House flanked by wooden Czechoslovakian grape-gathering baskets. The fun continues with a shuffleboard table, a bar resting on handmade Mexican tiles with dog paw prints, and a movie theater complete with reclining chairs and popcorn machine.
Garden areas including lacecap hydrangea, abelia, viburnum, and sweetbay of magnolia fill the waterfront area leading to the dock and natural beach. Note the stunning view of the lake and the waterside façade of the house with its covered porches and French Country railings.
Mr. and Mrs. Ben Davenport Jr., owners
The Ferguson House
5 Lands End Road, Penhook
Built in 1996, this large white brick house, accented by white iceberg roses and clematis, resembles a James River plantation that has grown with each generation. Tall magnolias and white crape myrtles line the approach to the Colonial façade where pineapple-embossed lintels surmount the mullioned windows flanking the porch. Its situation on a point of land in Smith Mountain Lake provides extraordinary water views from the lawn, verandas and dock. English boxwood surround gardens filled with peonies, hydrangeas, astilbe, hosta, sweetspire and daffodils.
A foyer leads into a spacious living room featuring a chalet ceiling over cherry, ash and walnut flooring in a Greek key pattern. A stairwell in the foyer rises to a large loft consisting of four bedrooms that circle an intimate den overlooking the living room. Two of the bedrooms open into nurseries designed and decorated for 11 grandchildren. A coffered-ceiling dining room houses a portrait of two sisters as children. Both sisters’ homes are a part of the tour.
Antiques with family stories, 19th-century samplers, a closet playroom with painted fireplace and furniture, heart pine paneling from a father’s lumberyard combine with artwork and beloved toys to reinforce the feel of permanence.
Mr. and Mrs. John Ferguson, owners
The Lee House
15 Lands End Road, Penhook
This French Country house, built in 1994, offers beautiful lake views from the windows, covered porches, verandas and dock. An equally interesting interior begins in the foyer with an 1875 pastoral oil painting that was a wedding gift for the owner’s grandparents. Artwork—including oil paintings, Limoges boxes, family portraits, and a Chagall lithograph—graces each room. The living room fireplace, surrounded by mosaic tiles, boasts individually painted ancient golfers. Interesting to note in the den is a series of family sketches in pencil drawn by the owner.
Hand-painted twin French château beds and a chest in an upstairs bedroom reinforce the French Country theme while delighting grandchildren. An electrified gas lamp that belonged to Todd Lincoln and a brass bed bought by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. for a Georgia governor highlight other bedrooms. French faïence, Quimper plates, and 1830s French candlesticks in the kitchen are an integral part of the ambiance.
A moss-topped stone wall and lined walk leading to the dock feature gardens with Solomon’s seal, hellebore, hosta, jonquils, pachysandra and liriope. Beside the dock is a children’s mini-beach with fire pits for s’mores, small Adirondacks with beach umbrellas, and stone steps leading to the water.
Mr. and Mrs. William Lee, owners