Just Gardens May 16 & 17 will feature five Essex County sites
, 2015

Just Gardens May 16 & 17 will
feature five Essex County sites

The 13th Just Gardens tour to benefit The Haven Shelter & Services Inc. will be held May 16 and 17.

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Kendale Gardens, 2097 Kendalls Road, Champlain, will be open for Just Gardens tour.

Five gardens in the Tappahannock area will be open to the public, including Kendale Gardens, reported committee member CJ Carter.

Kendale Gardens, the home of Sue and Harrison Wellford, is a working farm and homestead that has been in the Wellford family since 1880. While the original house has been modernized, renovated and expanded, the land retains the timeless quality of rural Virginia: the only surprise is to find this wonderful example of ‘the new American garden’, as invented by the world-renowned firm of landscape architects William Oehme and James Van Sweden.

As the house was undergoing a transformation in 1999-2001, so the gardens were evolving from a carefully crafted design to the reality of large beds filled with mass plantings of sun-loving ornamental grasses and colorful swathes of perennials and shrubs.

Paths lead the eye from one feature to the next, the surrounding farmland providing a broad frame for the finely drawn details of discrete architectural features – the pond garden, the rose pergola, an enclosed cottage garden, the richly productive fruit and vegetable garden. At the perimeter of the garden, more formal elements blend with the larger spaces of a tall meadow, vineyard, orchard and tennis court.

As the basic soil was largely a heavy, unforgiving clay, all this lush growth reflects extensive amendment and annual mulching to constantly add organic matter. The front garden had to be started over and double dug, incorporating additional topsoil. A sprinkler system helps with watering needs, and the never-ending garden tasks are shared between the Wellfords.

Mr. Wellford looks after the pond, the vineyard, the sunflowers and work that involves heavy equipment, including the annual bush hogging of the meadow. Mrs. Wellford is the primary gardener and she claims the principle challenge is “the sheer size of it!” Results are a constant joy as colors and form change week by week, she added.

While loving all areas of her domain, she has a special affinity for the great masses of ornamental grasses that add movement and rhythm as they link one area to the next. By late spring, the main flowering elements will be roses and baptisia, peonies, irises and foxgloves, with the cottage garden at its peak.

Other tour sites include The Terraces, 150 Rappahannock Beach Drive, Tappahannnock, owned by Roy Fontane; Little Egypt, 515 Faulconer Circle, Tappahannock, owned by David Henderson and Wesley Pippenger; Shelba, 763 Dunbrooke Road, Tappahannock, owned by Cynthia and Richard Carter; and Cherry Walk Farm, 2459 Dunbrooke Road, Tappahannock, owned by Beverley and Wakler Rowland.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on tour day. Brochures and advance ticket sales are available at TBonz and Tuna, Essex Bank (1325 Tappahannock Boulevard), Essex Bank (Callao), The Haven Shelter & Services, Inc., the Shoppe for Haven’s Sake Thrift Store, The Dandelion, Wildest Dreams, The Pedestal and the sites on tour day.

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