Now in its 20th year, Just Gardens will feature 3 private gardens and one public garden during their annual tour this coming September 13 and 14. Three of the gardens are in downtown Reedville and 1 garden is nearby. The tour, which benefits The Haven Shelter & Services, combines garden design ideas with plant information. “It’s such a great way to see what grows in the area and how other gardeners put it all together. There’s no right or wrong way to garden. It’s all about your own style and what suits the site you live on and the way you live”, said Anne Olsen, chairwoman for the tour. “If you live in the area or are just visiting, take some time to relax and visit these amazing private gardens. Maybe a garden plan or a plant combination will resonate with you. I’ve been to hundreds of gardens over the years and I always learn something new”, she went on to say.
Since 1986, The Haven Shelter and Services, the beneficiary of proceeds from the tour, has provided emergency shelter and support services to individuals who have experienced sexual assault and/or intimate partner violence. The idea of a garden tour to benefit The Haven was hatched by Anne Olsen and Anne Dickerson in the autumn of 2000 and in 2001 the first tour encompassed 5 gardens spread among two Northern Neck Counties. “The outpouring of support for a fundraiser for The Haven has been incredible”, expresses Executive Director Ellen Yackel. “Over the past 19 years, the tour has raised over $200,000 for The Haven. It is through community organizers like the Annes and their Just Gardens committee that The Haven is able to offer our services to citizens of the Northern Neck and Essex County.
The Marl Garden (2398 Fairport Road, Reedville)
Just down Fairport Road beyond the turn-off for the Tangier Island Ferry, lies a pretty farmhouse back from the road, surrounded by black horse fencing. Deborah and Fred Marl enjoy life on 20 acres of open spaces, gardens, horse pastures and views of the Great Wicomico River. The old farmhouse was purchased in 1998 and the Marl’s made it their home in 2005. The 2-story house, abandoned for nearly 20 years sat in an open field with nothing but old growth trees and views of the river. “Not a bad place to start”, said Deborah. “There were no gardens, just potential at every turn”, and every turn is where a garden grows today. The house is surrounded by informal beds of perennials and shrubs; each one better than the last. Deborah said “Oxalis Brasiliensis is my workhorse. It gives all of the beds continuity and cohesion because it leads your eye from one garden to the next.” She went on to say “The more workhorses you have in a garden, the better. In September Asters lead the parade.” A pergola extends across the back of the housekeeping the western sun at bay and providing an inviting place to dine, visit, or sip your morning coffee. Several sheds and outbuildings create the backdrop for additional garden areas. The mix of plant material is interesting in the combinations of height, bloom time, and color. The sheer amount of plant material makes this garden a must-see.
Reedville Living Shoreline Teaching Garden (474 Mail Street, Reedville)
Situated on picturesque Cockrell's Creek, the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum is on land originally owned by Elijah Reed. Reed, who in 1874 transferred his menhaden fishing operation from Brooklin, Maine to the Chesapeake Bay, owned most of the property that is now known as Reedville. The Living Shoreline Teaching Garden, part of the Museum, exemplifies an environmentally sound approach to shoreline stabilization using native plants. The garden was created to address several problems including erosion, invasive plants, and stormwater run-off which washed pollutants into the Creek. All plants are identified by labels wherever possible and the Northern Neck Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions. The museum will be open Friday and Saturday for Just Gardens’ ticket holders to visit for a $1 entry fee.
Ebb Tide (441 Main Street, Reedville)
Ebb Tide owned by Donna Briggs is across the street from the Museum’s Walker House. Currently a Bed and Breakfast, the circa 1890 cottage boasts a true cottage garden. While potted plants and garden art greet visitors at the front entrance, the back garden contains a quaint space with several outbuildings framing the rambling garden scape. An antique iron bed frame draws your eye to an area lush with old garden roses, hydrangea, hosta, variegated grasses, and more. Comfortable chairs look across an adjoining lot to the creek beyond.
The Dey Cottage (691 Main Street, Reedville)
The Dey Cottage, circa 1926 is just down from the museum on Main Street in Reedville. The grey clapboard cottage has been beautifully restored and the grounds reflect the owner’s keen eye for symmetry, simplicity, and calm. A brown pebble driveway bordered by granite pavers leads you into an oasis of green lush grass bordered by flower and shrub beds. The view from the street across this sea of green takes your eye to two parallel docks and Cockrell’s Creek beyond. Badger Godwin, the gardener at 691 Main was meticulous in the layout of this one-acre property. Pathways, edged with brown river rock provide dry footing, and give the walkways a neat and natty appearance. Combinations of flowering shrubs, perennials, and ornamental shade trees create a very pleasing effect as one looks out over the creek.