A Day in the Life of Virginia Garden Week

The Hermitage played host to several thousand visitors last Thursday as part of Norfolk’s Historic Garden Week. The day was a tremendous success and we were delighted to see so many new faces inside the museum. Many, many thanks to our volunteer docents for taking several hours out of their day to help us educate our visitors about the house and collection. We could not have done it without you.

One of my former art history students, Derico Cooper, dropped by with his camera to take some pictures of the goings-on inside the house. Thank goodness he arrived after the first crush of visitors, or else these photos would just be the backs of people’s heads with my arms waving wildly above the fray. The first hour was crazy! If you weren’t able to join us, I hope these photos give you a good taste of the day.

Colin was a bit shell-shocked after the first hour. (The speech bubble on the painting says "Gee, I wish someone would donate to the Hermitage Conservation Fund so I could fix this tear." -- Shameless pandering!)

Guests enjoying our new Hermitage timelineMeanwhile, upstairs…

Colin and I didn’t get much of a chance to venture outside the house, so I was delighted to see these photos from local photographer Bryan Brough.

I managed to sneak out of the museum in the afternoon to catch Peter Hatch, Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello, lecturing on his new book, A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello.

His lecture covered a variety of topics related to Jefferson’s 1000-foot-long terraced vegetable garden. Hatch’s insider look at the motivations behind Jefferson’s meticulous record-keeping and lifelong pursuit of the perfect pea was enlightening, to say the least. Many thanks to our Curator of Gardens, Yolima Carr (a.k.a “Spark Plug”), for scheduling Mr. Hatch’s visit. As an alumnus of Monticello’s Historic Landscape Institute, I think she had an in.

We capped off the day’s festivities with a riverside bluegrass concert by Asheville’s own Town Mountain. (In case you didn’t know, I’m from Asheville, so this was VERY EXCITING.) Our own Megan Frost snapped this photo of the band warming up in our meeting room:

The weather held, catered dinner was had by all, and the concert went off without a hitch, thanks to the dedication and perseverance of Megan Frost, our Young Associates, and the first-rate staff of the Virginia Arts Festival.

I can’t finish this post without a few kind words for the Garden Club of Norfolk and the Harborfront Garden Club. Thank you for working to get the Hermitage on the cover of the state-wide guide; we couldn’t have done it without you! See you on the tour next year…


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