Garden Week returns this month

Published 10:11 pm Monday, April 15, 2019

A tour of six Franklin homes and gardens will be the local celebration of Historic Garden Week in Virginia.

The April 27 event is co-hosted by the Franklin, Elizabeth River and Nansemond River garden clubs.

“Every year, the three of us are like one unit for Garden Week, so we rotate where it’s going to be,” said Sandra Councill of Suffolk’s Nansemond River Garden Club.

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Garden clubs throughout Virginia host events during the same week, April 27 to May 4, to raise money to support the restoration of famous Virginia gardens. Some projects that have been completed through the support of Garden Week activities in the past have included Kenmore, the Fredericksburg home of George Washington’s sister Betty; Monticello, home to Thomas Jefferson; Stratford Hall, birthplace of Robert E. Lee; and the Governor’s Mansion.

“All the money — every bit of the money — goes to save famous gardens in Virginia,” Councill said. “I think it’s wonderful we try to maintain these areas in Virginia.”

This year’s gift will feature $500,000 in grants to the state to support projects in Virginia State Parks.

For this year’s local tour, six homes and gardens in Franklin will be featured. Tour headquarters is at Franklin Baptist Church, 208 N. High St., where patrons can park, purchase tickets, have lunch and catch the trolley to most of the homes. The only exception is the Crescent Drive home, which has ample neighborhood street parking.

“I would like to thank the people that open these houses and make these tours possible,” Councill said. “It’s gracious of people to support this endeavor.”

The tour will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27. Tickets are $30 in advance and are available at or at many local businesses, including The Cat’s Meow, Fred’s Restaurant, and Aesthetics by Naomi in Franklin; The Peanut Patch in Courtland; Bowman’s Garden Center in Portsmouth; 18th Century Merchant in Chesapeake; Lake Prince Woods in Suffolk; and A. Dodson’s in Suffolk, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Tickets on the day of the tour are $40 and available only at Franklin Baptist Church. Lunch will be served at the church from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a cost of $15; lunch reservations are required by April 17 and can be made at (specify eat-in or take-out).

Complimentary refreshments will be served from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Crescent Drive location. Plein air artists from the Blackwater/Nottoway River Art League will be at tour locations. A straw bale gardening demonstration and gardening vendors will be on site at the headquarters.

Call 651-9241 for more information.

The homes on the tour are:

  • 1401 Clay St. — Owned by Jane and Steve Gibson, this circa 1920 home sits beneath stately trees and combines a farmhouse-style exterior with furnishings showcasing family history and craftsmanship. Extensive renovations were undertaken after the current owners purchased the home in 2005, and items on display include the owners’ musical instruments, needlework, watercolors, quilts and fused glass art.
  • 1412 Clay St. — Owned by Roberta and Kevin Bowman, this home previously housed two prominent Franklin families. The current owners are combining old and new to make the house their own. Original hardwood floors and exposed, original brick walls can be seen along with a remodeled kitchen, art deco bathrooms and a “steampunk” powder room as well as Dallas Cowboys-themed man cave.
  • 1312 Clay St. — Owned by Dotti and Jerry Gizzard, this home was built in 1960 for the founder of Franklin Equipment Company. It has the deceptive appearance of a ranch but consists of two stories and a basement. It was bought and renovated by the current owners in 2014. Original crystal chandeliers and three fireplaces remain. A wine bar, cypress-paneled den, remodeled kitchen and added staircase offer unique features.
  • 204 Meadow Lane — This home’s original owners modeled it after his grandfather’s home on the grounds of Woodberry Forest School. The new owner, Jenny Dixon, has given it her special touch to fit the needs of four girls — triplets and an older sister. Each girl has her own unique space with bright colors, modern fabrics and more. Ceilings are painted in metallic silver or gold, and distressed finishes, animal-print rugs and more add character.
  • 307 Meadow Lane — Designed in 1984 by Glenn Yates, this home is mostly a mirror copy of the owners’ previous home on First Avenue. The décor features family antiques from Southampton, Amelia and Gates counties, as well as American folk art, carvings of William Owen, Ann Murfree Allen’s portrait of the family and more. English boxwood from the current owner’s grandfather’s farm are featured in the garden. Joan and Ben Powell are the owners.
  • 139 Crescent Drive — Owned by Diana and Bobby Cutchins, this home was originally built in 1990 and purchased by the current owners in 2015. Extensive renovations have been undertaken to create an open-concept floor plan. A kitchen, adjacent sunroom, wood flooring and a very large master suite are featured. A rear deck was added with a swimming pool. The owners’ 1966 Chevy II Nova graces the garage.