North Suffolk gardens spotlighted

Published 7:39 pm Monday, April 13, 2015

After winter’s cold and snowy second half, it’s amazing how quickly the garden begins to show signs of life, once spring arrives.

They don’t say spring has sprung for the alliteration alone, I guess.

Last week, I met Nansemond River Garden Club member Gail Pruden at a garden in North Suffolk’s Riverfront. The community will feature in this month’s Historic Garden Week.

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We had planned the meet-up, for a photo and interview about the event this Saturday, with an eye on the weather report. But there’s something they also say about plans (which has no alliteration), and rain clouds had gathered.

The overcast conditions did nothing to suppress the brilliance of the gardens, though. In fact, the contrast might have made the colors of the flowers and foliage stand out even more.

This year, Historic Garden Week in Suffolk is taking a slightly different tack than normal. The featured gardens could be described as less traditional and less formal. Located on the banks of waterways like West and Knotts creeks, they take their cues from nature.

Saturday’s event, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. includes gardens whose creators have considered the natural environment around them. (Yes, there are lush green lawns, but we’re not on the drought-stricken West Coast, so there’s no need for guilt.)

The garden club is partnering with several other groups, with respect to the environmental angle, including the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance, Suffolk River Heritage, McDonald Garden Center and Suffolk Master Gardeners.

According to Pruden, Historic Garden Week isn’t an elitist event at all. She pointed out that it supports the restoration of historic sites in Virginia and also Virginia State Parks.

The Nansemond Club partners on the event with the Elizabeth River and Franklin Garden clubs. Sharing the duties around, the event was in Portsmouth last year, and in 2016 it’s set to descend on Franklin.

So this year is North Suffolk’s chance to shine. It’s a good opportunity to tour some beautiful private gardens in one of the city’s newer residential areas.

Tickets for the Suffolk tour are $30 per person in advance or $35 on the day. Children 6 and under are free.

Tickets can be purchased online at, via several local businesses or at the Suffolk Visitor Center, 524 N. Main St. A complete list of ticket outlets is available at

For more information, call the visitor center at 514-4130 or visit