Agecroft Hall

This Saturday I was very happy to catch up with a dear friend, who moved from Charlottesville to Richmond years ago. Even though Richmond is just a little over an hour away, it’s just far enough and we are both so busy that we don’t get to see each other very often.

My friend took me to Agecroft Hall, a 15th century Tudor estate originally built in Lancashire, England. By 1925 the house had become the victim of industrialization and had fallen into disrepair. The last living heirs were forced to sell it at auction. Thomas C. Williams, Jr., a wealthy entrepreneur in Richmond, bought the house for $19,000 and had it dismantled, crated, and shipped across the Atlantic. Over the course of two years and at the cost of $250,000, he had it reassembled as his own personal estate in the Windsor Farms neighborhood, on a hillock overlooking the James River. Sadly, Williams died only one year after moving into the house of his dreams.

In honor of William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday this Saturday, Agecroft Hall hosted a “Bard’s Birthday Celebration” with singing, games, dancing, acrobatics, and other performances.

In the grassy lawn as you approach the house is a stone that bears the identical inscription that is on Shakespeare’s tombstone at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon:

The English gardens, designed by renowned landscape architect Charles Gillette, are a marvel. We caught the peak of tulip season:

The Knot Garden:

We were so taken with the lovely gardens, we decided to go on to Maymont…to be continued tomorrow.

Queen Anne’s Lace

This is my “garden” at this time of the year:

The Weedaretum in all its glory.

The Weed-oretum in all its glory.

Clearly, I have long surrendered to the malevolent forces of summer in Virginia.

My kids always ask me why there aren’t any flowers in my garden in the summer. Here’s my answer:

This. This is what happens when you venture outdoors in mid-July in Virginia.

Why put yourself through the misery of being poached alive in the heavy, sticky, humid air when instead you can swan around enjoying landscapes from the the air-conditioned comfort of your very own chariot of fire?

My sweet pimped out ride. See that Albemarle County Schools magnet on the gas cap? Custom, Baby.

My sweet pimped out ride. See that Albemarle County Schools magnet on the gas cap? Custom, Baby. I’m thinking about having flames painted along the sides next…

This is the best time of the year to enjoy the weedy splendor of roadside displays espied from my car windows. My favorite? Queen Anne’s Lace – the essence of summer.

Even better in combination with its constant companion, the cornflower:

Bad picture...Didn't want to get out of the car to take it!

Bad picture…Didn’t want to get out of the car to take it!

Strewn by the invisible, artful hand of a master gardener, these lovely weeds are all the flowers I need to get me through the summer.

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Garden Party

I’m an indoorsy kind of person, except for in the spring months. Here in Virginia, the mosquitoes will soon be out for blood, it will be oppressively hot and humid, and I’ll retreat to my natural habitat: the Great Air-Conditioned Indoors. But springtime in Virginia is so rapturously beautiful, that I am irresistibly drawn outside. It’s a spectacular party that goes on for weeks, where I keep running into old friends that I haven’t seen in ages.

Even the uninvited guests are charming in their own way…

…sort of.

It’s been a difficult week…May we all find peace and solace in nature.
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
William Shakespeare, As You Like It
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