An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

June 25, 2013

The Garden at Eyre Hall

     The road to Eyre Hall is a long dusty lane lined with ancient eastern red cedars and crape myrtles. The first members of the Eyre family settled here beside Cherrystone Creek in the 1660's, and about 100 years later, construction began on what was to become the family seat. Around 1800 a parterre garden was planted behind the house, and it is considered the oldest continually maintained ornamental garden in the state, and one of the oldest in the country. Today Eyre Hall is still occupied by descendants of the same family, and they graciously open the garden to the public without charge, and without appointment.

Photo in the public domain, from the Library of Congress

     The garden has a central axis that starts at one of the home's back doors, runs through the garden, out the back gate and becomes a wide woodland walk leading to the creek. On either side of the axis are several parterres formed from ancient boxwoods and crape myrtles. The garden is enclosed by a brick and wood fence with gates at regular intervals. There are many unpaved, swept-earth pathways throughout the garden, and the beds are maintained without any mulch, both of which I suspect are traditional treatments. In one corner of the garden is the family graveyard and the ruins of an orangery.  

Eyre Hall (Central Axis) (2)

Eyre Hall (Central Axis)

Eyre Hall (Back Gate)

Eyre Hall (Woodland Walk to Cherrystone Creek)

Eyre Hall (Orangery Ruin) (2)

Eyre Hall (Crape Myrtle Allée)

Eyre Hall (Cemetery Gate)

Eyre Hall (Cauldron)

Eyre Hall (Out Building)

     Lest you think this is just another boring collection of linear green blobs, each parterre is planted with a variety of flowering shrubs, perennials, evergreens, bulbs and annuals. Years ago I got to know garden designer Donna Hackman who was hired by the family to bring new life into the garden, and she had a very careful eye with the plants she chose. Donna would call me with a wish list, and I would get what I could for her, plus when she came to pick up her plants, she would always find something else she did not know she needed.  She is a consummate plantswoman. Now the gardens are maintained by Laurie Klingel of Appleseed Nurseries. Appleseed is owned by Laurie and her husband Jeff and the company includes a visit-worthy garden shop, a landscape design firm, and a growing operation as well. Laurie's work at Eyre Hall has the venerable garden in the best shape I have ever seen. I think John and Ann Upshur Eyre, who added the original parterre garden and the orangery, would agree.

Eyre Hall (24)

Eyre Hall (30)

Eyre Hall (Back Border) (2)

Eyre Hall (Centaurea and Coleus)

Eyre Hall (Fatsia and Crape Myrtle)

Eyre Hall (Gold Leaf Hydrangea)

Eyre Hall (Hosta)

Eyre Hall (Magnolia grandiflora)

Eyre Hall (13)

Eyre Hall (14)

Eyre Hall (17)

Eyre Hall (20)

Eyre Hall (22)

     If you would like to visit Eyre Hall's garden, it is open year round, and is about half a mile off of US 13 in Northampton Co., VA, between the towns of Cheriton and Eastville. 

24 comments:

  1. It's stunningly maintained. So very gracious of the family to open the garden to the public. Still, it must be disconcerting running in to strangers in the garden.

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    1. I can imagine coming out into the garden with a bathrobe on, cup of coffee in hand, only to run into a bunch of tourists.

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  2. Your photographs and subject matter are just simply luscious! Just love the history and background of this garden as well. I have been to this garden twice years ago and now have it back on my list of "must visit again" 's!

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    1. This was probably my third of fourth visit, and I meant what I said about it being in the best shape I have ever seen.

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  3. A very lovely historic garden.

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  4. What a treasure historically and horticulturally! It's fortunate that it's open to the public but I agree with Tina that it would be odd to run into strangers in the garden! Thanks for the tour!

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    1. You are quite welcome for the tour.

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  5. What a lovely assortment of plants! I especially like the Fatsia and Crape Myrtle picture. Hydrangea (all of them) are blooming their roots off this year!

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    1. Yes indeed, this has been one of the best years for hydrangeas that I can remember.

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  6. The foliage contrasts are topnotch. I would love to tour the gardens.

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    1. Yes, someone has paid careful attention as to what goes next to what.

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  7. It looks very well-maintained, which of course adds to the beauty, and as usual your photographs are beautiful. Thank you for the tour.

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    1. Thank you for the compliment, and you are welcome for the tour.

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  8. Your photography is stunning. I really like the hosta/lysimachia combo. What a beautiful garden. :o)

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    1. This has been the summer that I have come to re-evaluate how I feel about hosta. I think it all has to do with what it is planted with.

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  9. Like greggo I love the designer's use of foliage contrasts. Maintaining a garden of that magnitude in such great shape is no small task. Kudos to the owners for taking the necessary action and for allowing such generous public access.

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    1. Sue, yes kudos are deserved. Many old gardens here are only open during Historic Garden Week and not every year, so it is nice that this one can be visited at any time.

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  10. Major garden envy!

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    1. It's only about 8 hours south of NYC.

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  11. I have an album of photos from these enchanting gardens but your photos give everything a unique and fresh perspective. Great photo captures!

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  12. Oh such a lovely garden. My favourite shot is of the view through the "doorway" with the brick walls behind ... Love that sort of thing.

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  13. There are lots of vistas in this garden, and I think the gates and doorways are just to entice you beyond.

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  14. The thing that I find so amazing about this grand garden and home is the way it has remained standing through multiple storms. What beautiful gardens, so glad the family has an interest in maintaining the gardens-- and that it is open to the public is icing on the cake.

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