Garden and Farm Tours 2018

It’s beginning . . . the lyrical expressions of forsythia and lavender, along with the rhythmic flow of white & purple lilacs speak to the inner poet in all of us as Caswell’s landscape awakens from its hibernation.

Every year about this time, my column explores upcoming gardening and farming events.  Since all of us are eager for tips and inspiration for the upcoming growing season, here is list of outdoor opportunities. I hope to attend most of them, so perhaps I’ll see you there.

The two major April events that I partake in each year are Virginia’s Historic Garden Week (April 21 – 28) and the Piedmont (NC) Farm Tour (April 28 – 29).

“America’s Largest Open House.” USA Today named Virginia’s Historic Garden Week on of America’s Top 10 garden events. This year the event takes place April 21 – 28. During this week throughout the state, visitors can tour over 250 homes, historic sites, and gardens and find their own inspiration.

On Tuesday, April 24, the Garden Club of Lynchburg will feature 5 private homes and gardens, dating from 1870 to 1950.  The Anne Spencer House garden cottage and grounds located in Lynchburg will also be open to the public. When attending the Historic Landscape Institute sponsored by UVA and Monticello many years ago,

I toured the charming home and gardens of this Harlem Renaissance poet.  Its narrow but deep lot is sectioned into three gardens, the last section features a small pool with an African head in black marble that was given to the poet by W.E.B. Dubois.

On Friday, April 27, the Garden Club of Smith Mountain Lake will showcase 3 private homes and gardens located in the Water’s Edge community.  For more information on the tours, times, and specific homes, visit

Piedmont Farm Tour. On April 28-29, from 2-6 p.m., the Carolina Farm Stewards Association hosts their annual tour featuring 45 sustainable small farms.  In its 23th year, you will find most of the farms to be family-friendly. See live bison at Sunset Ridge’s Buffalo Farm ) near Roxboro and take a narrated covered-wagon tour. At Minka Farm in Efland, pet a goat or a lamb, hold a baby chick, and feed piglets ( Take a horse and buggy ride at Chapel Hill Creamery ( and discover all aspects of cheese making. Don’t forget Jillian Micken’s Open Door Farm with its duck eggs, microgreens, and cut flowers (

The two-day ticket allows you and everyone in your car to have an inside look at sustainable farming.  The cost is $30 a car (in advance) and $35 on the day of registration. Load up the truck with friends and family and neighbors and hit the road! Find an interactive map and driving directions at


Caswell Farmer’s Market.  The 2018 season begins Thursday, April 26 in Yanceyville and Saturday, April 28 at the Semora Location.  The hours for both are 4:00 – 6:30 p.m.  For more information, visit

Recipe: All this talk of gardening brings thoughts of garden parties.  This week I thought I would share my favorite sandwich spread used in making tea sandwiches. It works well with cucumber, smoked salmon, or ham and cheese and is the spread we used on our Yancey House Grilled Vegetable Panini back in the day.

Garlic & Herb Spread Recipe:  Mix together one pound softened cream cheese, 1/3 cup good quality mayonnaise, and a dollop of sour cream.  Blend in 1-2 TB. of your favorite dried herbs—parsley, basil, dill—along with 1 tsp. or more garlic powder (not garlic salt) and 1/2  tsp. onion powder (not onion salt), and 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional).  If you need to soften the spread for easier spreadability, pop it into the microwave 5 seconds.

Make this spread uniquely your own by experimenting with flavors and texture.  Add more sour cream or less mayo.  Add Italian seasoning or more garlic or mix your herbs.  Create your “signature” spread for spring and summer sandwiches to enjoy in the garden.


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