Visitors will step into Northern Virginia's springtime profusion of flowers when they take part in the Garden Club of Fairfax's house and garden tour April 26. Four privately owned homes will be on the tour for the first time, as well as the historic Cherry Hill Farm, owned by the City of Falls Church.
Each year the Garden Club of Virginia celebrates the history and the beauty of the state with tours planned by local clubs in every area of the state, beginning on April 20 with tours in Alexandria and Charlottesville, and ending on April 27 with tours in Roanoke, Staunton and Warren County.
The 300-year-old City of Falls Church was chosen as the Garden Club of Fairfax's site this year with the tour planned by Mrs. H. Thomas Grimes of Springfield and Mrs. Diane Smith of Clifton.
"It's not as easy job to find houses. It takes time and people want to think about it" said Smith, who is co-chairing the tour for the second year in a row and has also chaired the house tour in Clifton, where she lives.
She said the City of Fairfax was chosen because her co-chair works in Falls Church and knew a lot of people and houses. Although the Club looks for interesting houses, gardens are a priority too. Smith noted the particular skills of Barbara Cram, owner of Greenworks, whose garden is on the tour. "She did a tremendous amount of work, starting little pockets of gardens everywhere," she said, adding that the property was not huge but very well-utilized.
Smith got involved in house tours in the early ‘70s, when her own home in Clifton was on a tour. "I just decided that was a neat thing to do," she said. Adding to her interest was her expertise as owner of Antiques of Clifton. "I've been doing that for 30 years," she said.
Smith estimated that about 1,200 people visited the Fairfax Club's tour last year and said they come from all over. We had a bus from Pennsylvania. They were visiting a different tour in Virginia every day during Garden Week.
Members of the Garden Club of Fairfax come from all over the county and Arlington, too, choosing a different site each year to join in the statewide celebration of Virginia's beauty and history.
Here is a brief description of the places chosen this year, all in the City of Falls Church.
THE CHERRY HILL FARMHOUSE, now owned by the City of Falls Church, was built in 1845 by William H. Harvey. The land, once 248 acres, given to John Trammel by Lord Fairfax in 1729, now consists of six acres.
Cherry Hill Farm was very popular with both Union Troops and Confederate rangers foraging for farm produce. Today the site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
There is only one piece of furniture, an Empire mahogany sofa in the hall, that is possibly original to the house, but the yellow pine floors are original as well as some panes of glass.
Empire Style furniture in the parlor reflects a middle- or upper-middle-class lifestyle, while the landscaping and plants retain a farmstead atmosphere. Three of the trees — a gum, a walnut and a white pine — have been designated noteworthy by the Village Preservation and Improvement Society.
A CIVIL WAR VETERAN FROM NEW JERSEY, who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, built this Victorian home in 1904-05 that is now known for its gardens.
The Cram Garden was purchased by Steve and Barbara Cram in 1986 and extensively renovated inside and outside. Construction of the large sun room and indoor pool was part of the complete renovation of the home, which took over four years to complete.
Outside construction included new paths and walkways, driveway and garden walls, a new garage and several new garden berms.
The cobblestones in the walk in the Rose Garden are from the old Georgetown C&O Canal towpath and were taken from the Meese House on Broad Street, which had burned down. The house was owned by the Crams, who retrieved the cobblestones from the foundation of the home for use in the garden.
Opposite the Rose Garden is a shade garden, made up of shrubs and perennials in silver and white. A newer garden is still in the planting stage, while the kitchen garden grows perennial herbs, annual herbs and several vegetables. Yet another garden features an array of blue, purple and white flowers framed by magnolias.
THE DAISLEY HOME is a Colonial first built in the 1940s. The home, owned now by Leslie and Gordon Daisley, was completely transformed in 1989 and enlarged from 1,200 to 3,400 square feet.
The house is furnished with traditional country and primitive antiques, including a candle stand from 1790, a schoolmaster's desk and a handsome grandfather's clock. An award-winning quilt made by the owner's mother covers the 1820 rope bed in the guest room.
There is a side porch with Chippendale railings and a boxwood garden. The gardens have mostly been designed by Leslie Daisley herself and include 60-year-old poplars, weeping blue atlas, Graham Blandy boxwoods, mycrophilia boxwoods, dogwoods and Irish yew.
ORIGINALLY CONSTRUCTED IN 1876, the Apple Orchard House, now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Matt Smith, was built at three different time. The foyer and dining room have the original pine flooring, and a mural, painted by the owner, creates a tranquil country scene in old Falls Church. Built in 1960, the guest room and bath are light and airy, with several windows. In 1990 the family room kitchen and master bedroom were added. The master bedroom contains a custom-made antique bed, and a collection of old birdhouses decorates the kitchen.
The backyard has a vegetable garden, flower gardens, many shrubs, trees and an old well. Leyland cypress create privacy, and a 200-year-old oak reigns over the property. A stone driveway bordered with azaleas complements the design of the home.
THE LANGALIS HOME WAS BUILT IN 1994 with the charm of an Italian villa. A two-story foyer takes the visitor into the living room, with its Italian ceramic tile floors. The living room features a marble fireplace, Victorian furniture and an antique secretary with burled wood. Treasures from the owners' travels are displayed throughout the house. The back hall features a collection of boxes from all over the world, and the first-floor master bedroom uses screens from India as window shutters and a headboard.
The house has many windows, which encourage a visit to the flagstone patio and the gardens of the home, owned by Mary Pagett and Charles Langalis. Charles Langalis, an avid gardener, has created a tranquil spot with little garden rooms to the side. The square house is balanced by the curved gardens, with their many varieties of flowers, shrubs and trees.