Martinsville Celebrates the 85th Historic Garden Week Tour

When Dr. and Mrs. Donald Grayson were planning their 1998 wedding, Dr. Grayson’s partner and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. Donald Richman, offered to host the event in their Martinsville garden. The Richman garden had been featured three days earlier in the 65th Annual Historic Garden Week in Virginia.  The grounds were filled with roses and the perfect setting for a spring wedding.

Twenty years later, the Richman garden will again be open on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. The garden’s emphasis has changed and visitors this year will see an array of 66 herbaceous and tree peonies. The Martinsville-Henry County tour day is hosted by The Garden Study Club and the Martinsville Garden Club in celebration of the 85th annual event of the Garden Club of Virginia. Tour proceeds from over 29 tours throughout the Commonwealth fund the restoration and preservation of more than 50 of Virginia’s historic public gardens and landscapes, a research fellowship program and a centennial project with Virginia State Parks.

Three homes are also open to guests for the tour, all located within a few miles of each other in the Mulberry-Forest Park area. The homes are unique representations of the tastes and lifestyles of the owners, yet each is welcoming and reflects a focus on family and friends.

Dr. and Mrs. Ruff Wheless are the third owners of the brick French provincial at 1011 Corn Tassel Trail built in 1960. Purchased in 2007, the home has undergone major modifications to the floor plan that include an open family room and renovated kitchen space, a master bedroom suite addition with his and her baths and dressing rooms, and doorways added to the rear of the home allowing access to covered porches. A stone terrace surrounds the swimming pool and outdoor kitchen, bar and entertainment center.

Mrs. Wheless has experience and expertise in staging living spaces for sale or rent and has skillfully mixed classic items in her own home with tasteful pieces found in flea markets and discount stores during the family’s many travels Visitors to this home will pick up decorating ideas that can be duplicated in their homes, including dramatic uses of color and texture.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Stegall at 1511 Lakeview Trail was designed and built as a retirement dwelling that is conveniently all on one level yet features luxurious furnishings and finishes. The home sits high above street level affording views of Lake Lanier; in fact, the effect is reminiscent of being on a cruise ship in the most comfortable, spacious suite. Maple cabinets with coffee glaze dark granite counters create a warm atmosphere in the kitchen with views from the breakfast room enjoyed in every season. The French-inspired courtyard off the dining room is filled with roses, irises, rosemary and peonies, adding to the atmosphere. The dining room features Herend, Waterford and pink carnival glass collections. A carousel horse keeps watch out the master bedroom window.

The home of Ms. Cecelia Johnson and Mr. Robert Davis at 1507 White Oak Court was remodeled to facilitate the flow of guests from the entry into the entertaining areas, while creating more privacy for the homeowners and overnight guests. Ms. Johnson has a number of family heirlooms on display including a set of antique lustres mounted on the wall in the dining room. Lustres are mantle decorations or pedestal vases with many hanging prisms. Other handcrafted antique furniture items are found throughout the home. The lower level is completely finished with bedrooms for all the couple’s children and grandchildren to visit and a workshop dedicated to floral arranging.

A buffet luncheon is available for $15 at Chatmoss Country Club, 550 Mt. Olivet Road, from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. Reservations are required and are available by contacting Lynne Beeler at email or at (276) 732-7016.

Advance tickets are $15 and include tours of all four sites. They are available online at on in person at the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center, the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Piedmont Arts, the Historic Henry County Courthouse, and the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce.

Tickets will be available at the MHC Visitor Center and at each site on the day of the tour for $20. Additional information is available by email.

Note: The Chatham Garden Club, The Garden Club of Danville and the Gabriella Garden Club are hosting their tour at Smith Mountain Lake on Friday, April 27, 2018 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Information is available at