Spring is for Equestrians

Driving southwest beyond the bustle of DC, the edges of the city begin to melt away into its suburbs where high-rise buildings are fewer and farther between and new condos and housing complexes spring up along the highway, accommodating residents of the nation’s expanding capital. Continue still further south and even those images of city living begin to fade. Low-lying fences of dry, stacked stone run along the twisting roadsides, separating the asphalt from the rolling country beyond. What could be taken as a picturesque scene from an English painting is actually Virginia’s Loudoun County, the heart of America’s Horse Country. The many stories that make up Loudoun’s long, rich history of equestrian life are housed in the National Sporting Library and Museum, where over 17,000 books dating back to the 16th century, as well as cycles of exhibitions, chart the county’s sporting traditions back to their roots. The current exhibit, on display through June 30, is “Horses at Work and Play,” which showcases literature and toys from the National Sporting Library’s collections and the renowned Athelstan and Kathleen Spilhaus collection. This fall a new wing adjoining the library’s old brick building will open. The renovated hall will be the home of American and European fine sporting art, celebrating horse culture and field sports with through artistic representations. Horse culture is also the life and blood of many shops in Loudoun, such as Middleburg’s Journeymen, a tack store and workshop creating custom-made leather goods such as chaps and saddles. It’s also the only place in town to get repairs and adjustments for your gear. The front of the store is home to a boutique where a tailor can outfit you with fitted suits in addition to riding attire. Punkin Lee, the owner of the store whose strong hands and piercing eyes are at odds with her unique name, has been working with leather as the head of Journeymen for the past 34 years. A Middleburg native, Lee, grew up around horses, hunting and showing throughout her youth. At one time her grandmother’s barn was even the stomping ground for General George S. Patton’s horses, she said. “It’s the industry here,” Lee said. “Annapolis has boats, we have horses.” Having made every repair from a camel saddle to handmade leather boots for a dog, Lee stresses that the quality of her work is what keeps her customers from Middleburg and around the world coming back to her store. Pieces of Lee’s world-class gear have even made their way to the Olympics. For the past 157 years, Loudoun residents and horse enthusiasts from across the world gather in Upperville for the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, the oldest horse show in the U.S. featuring events from children’s competitions to Olympic-level riders and horses. June 6 through 12, the show will enter its 158th season at The Oaks, the event’s beautiful, grass-covered showgrounds nestled in Loudoun’s rolling foothills. For just $10 per person, visitors can watch a packed schedule of daily events with competitions for hunters, jumpers and breeders. Visit Upperville.com for more information. On May 7, about 50,000 people will travel to Great Meadow in The Plains region of Loudoun for the 86th annual Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase. The day’s six hurdle and timber horse races as well as its Jack Russell Terrier races are famous nationwide, and draw countless vendors, tents and tailgaters. The spectators will also have a chance to compete in the hat contest. Ladies sporting the biggest and best derby hats will be judged in the afternoon on Members Hill. To learn more about the steeplechase, go to VaGoldCup.com. Another tradition in Loudoun County is the Annual Hunt Country Stable Tour hosted by Trinity Episcopal Church. This self-driven auto tour will enter its 52nd year the weekend of May 28, when drivers will tour a circuit of Upperville, Middleburg and The Plains, visiting the areas thoroughbred breeding farms, show hunger barns, fox hunting barns and country estates. Call 540.592.3408 or visit HuntCountryStableTour.org for more information and tickets. But riding in Loudoun County isn’t just for equestrian addicts and professionals. It’s a part of life for everyone, including visitors and first-timers. The area abounds with stables and fields where just about anyone can learn to ride. At the southern tip of Loudon, Aldie Dam Stable occupies more than 450 acres of land and offers lessons and trail rides for riders with all levels of experience. Call 540.931.8779 to find out more. Although Loudoun’s title of Horse Country is rich in history and tradition, the area also holds another prestigious title: Wine Country. More than 54 wineries are scattered throughout the area, their presence marked by the sprawling vineyards interspersed among the farms and grazing fields. The wineries are grouped into five clusters: the Loudoun Heights Cluster, the Waterford Cluster, the Potomac Cluster, the Mosby Cluster and the Harmony Cluster. This arrangement, in addition to the long, beautiful country roads, makes touring the vineyards an incredibly relaxing experience. These picture-perfect venues are wonderful settings to enjoy the slow pace of the countryside while sampling some of Virginia’s best wines. [gallery ids="99655,105340,105336,105334" nav="thumbs"]

Weekend Roundup, April 14-17

The spring weather is here to stay, and the city is buzzing with events. With the sun shining, there’s no reason not to hit the town. Here is what’s going on this weekend, straight from the Georgetowner’s online events calendar. And as always, we encourage you to get involved with your community by uploading your own events or any we may have missed. TONIGHT: DC Zoning Commission Hearing on GU Campus Plan April 14, 6:30 p.m. Georgetown University will officially present its hotly disputed 2010 Campus Plan to the DC Zoning Commission tonight. For those who cannot make it to the hearing but still want to see the outcome, you can watch the meeting live from the DC Zoning Commission's webcast on their website. Click here to go to the webcast page. The hearing will take place at the DC Office of Zoning at 6:30 PM. The office is located just outside the Judiciary Square Metro Station. Office of Zoning Hearing Room 441 4th Street, Suite 220-S (Judiciary Square Metro). Prima Materia: Vernal Matrix Opening Reception April 15, 5 p.m. The Old Print Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Susan Goldman’s new show, Prima Materia: Vernal Matrix. Showcasing the amphora, Goldman’s woodcuts celebrate our connections to the natural world and ancient civilizations. Swirling and blossoming, her vessels mirror the female silhouette as it generates and nurtures new life. Using vibrant colors and dynamic patterns, Goldman’s prints are apt for spring’s arrival. Wine will be served. The Old Print Gallery is located at 1220 31st Street, NW. 202-965-1818 'Miles of Hope' for Wounded Warriors April 16, early morning 400 bike riders will take part in "Face of America," a 110-mile bicycle ride, starting April 16 at the steps of the U.S. Capitol and ending on the battlefield of Gettysburg, Pa., the next day. At least 80 of the riders will be military members who were wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. (The first-day miles will take riders past the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington and over the Key Bridge to Georgetown and up Canal Road towards Frederick, Md.) Look for the bicyclists coming over Key Bridge at M Street early Saturday morning—and salute some real American heroes. For the full article by Robert Devaney click here. 78th Annual Historic Alexandria House and Garden Tour April 16, 10 a.m. Six of Old Town Alexandria's finest historic homes and gardens are open to the public in this highlight of Alexandria's spring season. The tour is part of the 78th Annual Historic Garden Week in Virginia, the oldest and largest house and garden tour in the nation. 703-746-3309 Samuel Beckett at the Kennedy Center for this Weekend Only April 14-17 Master director Peter Brook has assembled and staged a selection of Beckett’s one acts for a one hour event of avant garde theater at its finest. Titled “Fragments,” the show is in town only through this Sunday, so don’t miss it while it’s here. For more information visit the Kennedy Center online, or check out Gary Tischler’s exclusive interview with Brook. An Easter Concert Celebration April 16, 6 p.m. The Kosciuszko Foundation presents Krystian Tkaczewski, Polish virtuoso and laureate of the piano, who has performed in competitions and festivals throughout the world. He is the founder of Chopin International Piano Competition in Hartford, CT. The evening will feature works by F. Chopin, W.A. Mozart, and F. Schubert. Wine reception with Polish Easter treats will follow. The Kosciuszko Foundation is located at 2025 O Street NW. 202-785-2320 WIS Spring Bazaar April 17, 11 a.m. The Washington International School’s (WIS) Spring Bazaar is a chance for the family to get out together and enjoy a variety of activities on the WIS Tregaron campus hilltop. Activities include carnival games, vendor tables and much more! Visitors should come hungry so they can enjoy the International Food Court with tasty choices, such as crêpes, samosas, high tea, or hot dogs and hamburgers. 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. 3100 Macomb Street NW 202-243-1800 Julliard’s Afiara String Quartet April 17, 2 p.m. The Afiara String Quartet debuts on the WPAS Kreeger String Series on Sunday afternoon. The quartet will be performing Hayden, Beethoven, and Berg at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Tickets $35

9/11 Remembered

  -What people remembered about that morning was how incredibly blue the sky was — the kind of gorgeous day it was, making you feel grateful how heart-breakingly beautiful it was. We had skies like that this Labor Day weekend, a break from the oppressive bouts of heat. Blue as a baby, a Dutch painting. On the Tuesday that became a simple number — 9/11 — I hadn’t yet made it a habit to turn on my computer first thing after brushing my teeth. Instead, I headed out the door to take a 42 bus downtown near the White House, on my way to a photography exhibition opening at the Corcoran Gallery. I didn’t bring my camera, and I didn’t have a cell phone. I didn’t have a clue. As the bus neared the Farragut stop, you began to see a large number of people on the sidewalks, most of them on their cell phones, which was not yet a common sight. Many of them appeared agitated. More and more people started to pour out of office buildings and the Executive Office Building. At Pennsylvania Avenue, with the White House as a backdrop, I walked up to a policeman and asked him what was going on. “Oh, not much,” he said. “Two planes were hijacked and rammed into the World Trade Center in New York. Another one just hit the Pentagon. There’s one that’s supposed to be coming here.” He nodded toward the White House. My first thought was why the hell are we standing here? But I didn’t say anything except maybe “Jesus” or “Oh my God”. I couldn’t say. I decided to stay and see what happened. That was the start 9/11 for me. I saw a group of Christian stockbrokers fall to their knees outside an office building where they were convening and they prayed. I saw people start the long walks home to Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and the Maryland border. I saw people gathered around a television set in the Mayflower Hotel, and I saw the real-time collapse of the second tower. It looked unreal. A nurse who was here for a medical convention said “I’m going home to a different world.” Somewhere in a place called Shanksville, Pennsylvania, a fourth plane had crashed in a field near this small town outside Pittsburgh, after passengers had stormed the cockpit and fought the hijackers. On Thanksgiving two years later, we visited the site: there was a big memorial full of flags and angels there and a huge indentation in a field a distance away. The town was small, and it had a football field. It snowed into the quiet land. I remember the days afterward: the president’s speech, his stand on the rocks, the awful images from New York, the rubble, the many dead, and the pictures of falling bodies. I remember a girl, late at night, sitting on the steps, holding a lit candle. I remember being among a group of people in Adams Morgan, who had gathered to hold candles and sing folk songs from our youth — “We Shall Overcome.” I remember two survivors of the attacks — one from the Pentagon and a blonde office worker from the World Trade Center, who came to the Corcoran where an exhibition of photographs from 9/11 was opening. They told personal stories of their trials and still mourned those lost. The fact that the stories were plain-spoken and true made them seem like incantations. I remember that The Georgetowner ran something like five cover stories continuously after 9/11 on 9/11. The streak did not stop until the death of Beatle George Harrison, which seemed in a strange way oddly celebratory and sad at once. I know this much: wars came and continue, American soldiers continue to serve and die, and we and the rest of the world have an enemy that appears implacable in its devotion to destruction, violence, bombings, and war as a way of showing their hatred of cultures and nations that are different from them. This seems never ending — the carnage and that contrary idea of a holy war. This is the world we live in. They call themselves by many names — Jihadists, Taliban, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas. Here we call them terrorists. There the entire region seems in turmoil — Iraq after us, Afghanistan, Pakistan, flooded and bombed at once. It is a cauldron of suffering. That blue-sky day prevails in my memory. I saw the Oberammergau Passion Play in Bavaria this summer, in which the man playing Jesus — a dentist — wailed at Gethsemane, crying out to God that “you have thrown me into the dust of death.” That’s what we saw that day: the dust of death. It blotted out the perfect blue sky.

Weekend Roundup, September 10

  -ART BUS 9/11/10 D.C.’s fall art season kicks off this weekend with a free shuttle service linking three gallery hotbeds. The stops: Logan Circle (14th Street NW), U Street, and the H Street/Atlas District (Florida Avenue NE) feature some of the most fascinating collections you’ll encounter this quarter. The program is sponsored by the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, which aims to allow D.C. residents access to variety of art shows this fall. Be sure to check out the Adamson Gallery, Project 4 Gallery, and G Fine Art among other aesthetic destinations — all of which are open from around 6:30 - 8:30. You’ll be well on your way to meeting your cultural quota for the fall! SATURDAY’S FARMERS’ MARKET 9/11/10 For all you bluegrass fans, this Saturday’s Farmers’ Market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., will feature the Parklawn Ramblers. Among the featured vendors are the Red Apron Butchery, known for their cured meats, Spring Valley Farm and Orchard, whose salads are as easy on the eyes as they are the stomach, and Spriggs Delight for your fill of fudge. Bike tune-ups are also available. The market is held in the Hardy Middle School parking lot, and as always dogs are welcome! TRAFFIC ADVISORY Starting Monday, September 13, the 14th Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project will be closing the left shoulder of the bridge. This means a new traffic pattern for would-be travelers, where all four lanes deviate right of the construction. The change will be implemented in stages over the weekend, with anyone taking Exit 10C from I-395N being advised to head left prior to the work zone. Make sure to approach the construction zone with caution. The change will be in effect for at least eight weeks. GEORGETOWN INTERIM LIBRARY CLOSING In preparation for the opening of the newly renovated Georgetown Neighborhood Library, October 18, the Georgetown Interim Library plans to close September 25. Among the renovations made were improvements to lighting and the woodwork. There will also be new sections dedicated entirely to children and teens. Nevertheless, the reading terrace with a view of Book Hill Park is sure to be the biggest attraction. The West End Neighborhood Library is a nearby alternative in the meantime, and your old books can be returned or renewed there.

Weekend Roundup, September 24

  -Mid-Atlantic Red Fruit Festival: 9/24/10 Today marks the launch of the first-ever Mid-Atlantic Red Fruit Festival, hosted by the International Wine & Food Festival. The event will run from 6pm to 8pm, in Woodrow Wilson Plaza, at the International Trade Center and Ronald Reagan Building. What makes the festival so unique is that each year a red fruit will be showcased — this year’s being the tomato. Area farmers, chefs, and home gardeners and cooks have come together to bring you tomato tastings with wine pairings. Best of all, the festival has teamed up with Seeds to Schools, a public drive that gathers and redistributes seeds to regional schools and community gardens seeking to promote life science and nutritional values. Common Good City Farm is an additional partner that serves as an urban farm and education center for the District’s low-income residents. For only $35, foodies can enjoy all the tomato-inspired non-profit food festival has to offer! Prevent Cancer Foundation 5k: 9/25/10 $30 late registration is still available for the Prevent Cancer Foundation 5k (Children under 12 can participate for free.). Just head to the packet pick-up site, located at Georgetown Running Co., between 10am and 7pm today. You can also register via phone at 703-519-2103. Messages received before 5pm today will be returned. The 5k, itself, is set to take place this Saturday, from 8am to 11am, at West Potomac Park. Fitness expert Denise Austin is kicking off the event The Washington Post has labeled D.C.’s “5k best bet,” so you’re sure to have a good time while supporting a noble cause. Smithsonian Media’s 6th Annual Museum Day: 9/25/10 This Saturday, Smithsonian Media is hosting its 6th Annual Museum Day. On this day, museums across the nation provide free admission to those wielding a Museum Day ticket. Among the D.C. museums getting in on the action are the National Museum of Crime and Punishment, National Geographic Museum, and the Newseum. To find more venues and print off your ticket, head to www.microsite.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/. Tickets allow one household member and a guest entry but only into one museum, so choose wisely! 2010 National Book Festival: 9/25/10 The Library of Congress’s 2010 National Book Festival runs from 10am to 5:30pm this Saturday. President Barack and Michelle Obama will serve as the event’s honorary chairs. Additionally, the authors in attendance include Isabel Allende, Katherine Paterson, and Gordon S. Wood. The festival promises something for everyone, with its coterie of authors presenting on an array of genres and subjects. Best of all, it’s free and open to people of all ages. Come be a part of D.C.’s celebration of the joy of reading. A Celebration of History: 9/25/10 A tribute exhibition to late artist James Beacon is being held at Gallerie Henlopen, this Saturday, at 4pm. Over the course of his career, Beacon has chronicled the history of slavery in his paintings. Now, the Silver Springs, MD art community wishes to pay homage to his significant effort. Marlen Bodden will also be present to sign copies of her novel “The Wedding Gift”. Fans of historical thrillers should be pleased.

Plans Underway for 13th Taste of Rappahannock

Plans are underway for Headwaters Foundation’s 13th Annual Taste of Rappahannock, widely considered one of the county’s most popular fundraising events. This year’s event, which will be held at Belle Meade Schoolhouse on Sept.11, beginning at 6 p.m., promises to be an exciting evening. “We’ve hired Red Apple Auctions of Alexandria to help us with both the silent and live auctions, and they have some great new ideas that we are implementing,” said Toni Egger, executive director for Headwaters. Nearly 50 one-of-a-kind items will be auctioned. Already on the bidding list and sure to cause competitive bidding are a week at Le Silence, a charming, five-bedroom farmhouse in the scenic countryside of Burgundy, France, a trip to Cancun and a theater weekend in Washington, D.C. Guests may bid on other experiences, such as a helicopter ride and accompanying gourmet picnic, a cooking workshop and dinner with well known chef and writer Hi Soo Hepinstall, a behind-the-scenes tour and tasting at Copper Fox Distillery, original art from a number of Rappahannock County’s most accomplished artists, and more. Rappahannock County’s students have always been the primary beneficiaries of the Taste, and this year, more than ever, they will be a part of this time-honored event. Students will be involved in every aspect of the evening, from greeting and chatting with guests to serving hors d’oeuvres to helping prepare and serve a wide selection of dishes of locally sourced foods. A musical ensemble from Rappahannock High School will provide live background music. During the formal dinner program, one student will share how his experience with Headwaters has made a difference in his life. Funds raised during the annual Taste of Rappahannock are crucial to underwriting the enrichment programs offered to students by Headwaters throughout the year. This year’s “Challenge” will, in fact, be a challenge — thanks to generous donations by Rappahannock resident Mitzi Young and the late Took Crowell — and should generate significant contributions. High level challenge donors will be honored with a champagne reception. The funds raised this year are more important than ever, as Headwaters looks to expand its outreach efforts. In addition to supporting its robust, long-lived programs, including Farm-to-Table, Starfish Mentoring,, and Next Step, and its supportive teacher mini-grants and complimentary staff development efforts, funds are needed to develop new programs. “Rappahannock County has a new school administration with new ideas and programs they will want to launch. We want to be ready and able to help,” Egger said. “We would like to create an opportunity fund so that we can respond to developing needs and ideas for programs at all levels of school.” In the planning stage is an after-school program for elementary school children. Egger said that a survey will be sent in August to elementary school-age children and their parents. “We want to learn from the parents and students what they would like to see in an after-school program before we build it and will incorporate their thoughts and suggestions,” Egger said. “We hope to start such a program in January.” She credits Headwaters volunteer Philip Strange for outlining a proposal for the effort. Demand for tickets this year will likely be greater than ever, in part because of advertising support in Flavor magazine, which reaches some 50,000 people throughout the region, including D.C., Maryland and northern and central Virginia. Details of this year’s Taste are online at Headwaters Foundation’s Web site, www.headwatersfdn.org. Event Co-Chairs Cheri Woodard, Terri Lehman, and Ashleigh Cannon Sharp said that invitations to the 13th Annual Taste of Rappahannock were sent out in early August. Tickets are $150 for individuals. Patron tables of 10 are $2000. Sponsored tables are $1200 and include two tickets to the event. No doubt, the event will sell out as soon as invitations reach the mailbox. To participate, e-mail your name and address to Toni Egger at director@headwatersfdn.org or call Toni at 540-987-3322. Tickets are $150 for individuals and tables may be sponsored. Event sponsorships are also available. The Grand Prize: One week at Le Silence, a charming five bedroom farm house in central Burgundy’s Parc Naturel Régional du Morvan. The property, originally part of the famous Manoir de Ruères, is situated in the quiet hamlet of that name midway among the historic cities of Avallon, Saulieu and Vézelay. Within easy driving distance, one may find the renowned wine regions of the Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits, Côte d’Or and Chablis, and somewhat further afield, Beaujolais and Sancerre. Several of the world’s greatest restaurants are within a half an hour, including Marc Meneau’s L’Espérance and the late Bernard Loiseau’s Côte d’Or; and smaller but superb establishments abound nearby. Though 220km from Paris, Le Silence is connected by a near-by major auto route (circa 3 hours driving time), and for those wishing a long day or two in Paris, by a high speed train from nearby Montbard deposits you at the Gare de Lyon in one hour and one minute. The immediate environs of the house boast many of the poignant monuments to the World War II French Resistance, and the region is dotted with memorials to brave Americans and Britons who perished supporting them. The Musée de la Résistance in nearby Saint-Brisson is especially moving. The house itself, which has been in the Wimbush family for nearly 30 years, sits on four hectares of wooded farmland. It has been substantially modernized and is fully equipped. For local color, fine food and wine, history and culture, and the upmost tranquility, Le Silence is hard to match. This is a unique opportunity for one or several couples, or a larger extended family. Bidding starts at $5,000 (for use of the house only; does not include travel). [gallery ids="99190,103304,103307" nav="thumbs"]

Gardens of Hunt Country

Said to be commissioned sometime around 600 B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar as a gift to his wife Amytis, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and perhaps one of the earliest botanical works of art. With lush trees and fragrant plants imported from her native Persia and planted in elevated stone terraces to resemble the mountainous terrain where she lived as a child, the gardens were intended to provide a homesick Amytis with a sense of comfort, peace, and familiarity in a place so different from her homeland — emotions that every garden should evoke in its keeper. Whether it’s the palatial gardens of Versailles, an intimate courtyard retreat in Georgetown, or a smaller-scale balcony garden consisting of containers filled with overflowing greenery and colorful blooms, anyone who has spent time in a garden understands the positive impact such a space has on one’s overall attitude and well-being. If you already have a garden, or have toyed with the idea of creating one, the gardening events on tap this spring in Virginia’s Hunt Country will no doubt inspire your inner gardener. Secret Gardens April 17 through 25 is Historic Garden Week in Virginia — your annual invitation to take an up-close and personal peek behind some of the most exclusive garden gates in the Commonwealth, and in some cases, a glimpse into the magnificent homes that share the landscape with them. Organized by member clubs of The Garden Club of Virginia and celebrating its 77th season, this statewide celebration is frequently referred to as “America’s Largest Open House” and is the oldest event of its kind in the United States. More than 30 home and garden tours will take place in Virginia during Historic Garden Week, with proceeds going toward the preservation and restoration of historic gardens and grounds throughout the state. Several tours are within close proximity to Washington, D.C., including two in Virginia’s Hunt Country — the Loudoun and Fauquier Garden Club tour, and Winchester-Clarke County Garden Club tour. A mix of old and new awaits you on the Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club tour, where you’ll have the opportunity to visit five outstanding residences — some constructed prior to the Civil War. Leave the hectic pace of the city behind and travel west through the scenic countryside, where lush green fields and historic stone walls make the journey just as beautiful as the destinations. Properties on the tour include Innisfree, Marly, Waverly, Middleton and Pennygent. Make your way along pea gravel paths and cobblestone walkways as you are treated to exceptional gardens overflowing with annuals, perennials, espaliered fruit trees, and terraces wrapped in wisteria. The Winchester-Clarke County Garden Club tour showcases five remarkable homes dating from the 18th century to the early part of the 21st century. Erchless, Rosemont on the Shenandoah, Caveland, Apple Hill and Randleston Farm are all extraordinary residences, each unique in their own way. One residence has a circular main floor plan, with no square rooms, while another has a history that dates to the Roaring ’20s. This is an outstanding and eclectic collection of properties that you’re sure to remember long after your visit. A Festival Blooms in Leesburg Promising to be bigger and more impressive than ever, the Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival celebrates its 20th year the weekend of April 17. Attracting more than 35,000 visitors over the two-day botanical extravaganza, this event is set to fill the streets of downtown historic Leesburg with a garden party you won’t want to miss. There’s something for everyone, so come early, bring the entire family and plan to spend the day. Over 100 vendors are slated to be on hand to equip you with everything you need to envision, and ultimately cultivate, the outdoor space of your dreams. It’s unlikely you’ll even recognize the streets of this quaint historic town, as they have magically been transformed into elaborate landscaped gardens, flower and plant exhibits and more — all certain to inspire you and get your creative juices flowing. Talk with landscape professionals that can help you design that perfect patio, walkway or garden area. Stock up on supplies or buy that must-have plant with over-the-top blooms that will look just perfect in your garden. Be sure to stop by the Town Green, where experts will be presenting demonstrations on a variety of topics. Learn about composting and pick up other eco-friendly gardening tips and techniques that will ensure your garden is “green.” When it’s time to take a break, grab a bite to eat from one of several food vendors and enjoy the entertainment on the Loudoun County Courthouse lawn where various artists will treat you to music ranging from classic rock to reggae. New this year is a garden of a different sort — a wine and beer garden — featuring many of your favorite Loudoun County wineries and breweries. Face painting, crafts, and entertainment will be in full swing on the children’s stage, so make sure the “junior gardeners” in your family don’t miss out on any of the fun. Whether you’re avid gardener, or just beginning to dabble in plants, the Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival is an excellent opportunity to connect with landscape professionals, enhance your gardening knowledge, and enjoy some great springtime weather. Le Petit Jardin There’s no doubt you’ll be anxious to take all of those great gardening ideas you picked up at this spring’s events and turn them into reality. If you have never gardened because you thought you didn’t have enough time or space, think again. For many of us, time constraints or limited space just mean that we have to garden on a somewhat smaller scale. Starla King, owner of Signature Gardenscapes (www.signaturegardenscapes.com) — a company specializing in smaller-scale residential landscape, says sun, space and soil are the keys to any beautiful garden. Once you assess these three important elements, you are ready to begin creating your own personal outdoor oasis. To get you started, King offers these helpful tips for creating and maintaining gardens in small spaces: • Always consider how much sun or shade the planting area will receive each day. If your garden area is primarily shade, don’t get a plant that needs mostly sun. It will probably still grow, but will be spindly, unhealthy-looking and never mature to its full potential. Likewise, a shade-loving plant will burn to a crisp in a full-sun area. • Determine how much space you have for your garden before you purchase plants. Plants will try to grow to their intended size even if you don’t give them enough room. Buy plants whose size at maturity matches your available space. For example, if you have a three- to five-foot garden space, don’t buy five plants that will each grow to three feet wide. You will end up with 15 feet of plants in a five-foot space. Instead, consider five plants that grow to one foot wide, or three plants that mature to two feet wide. • Check the soil condition. New garden beds may require that some topsoil or soil conditioner be mixed with the earth. If in doubt, check with your garden center or plant nursery. For containers, just use a good quality potting soil. • Visit a garden center and start your search for plants that appeal to you. Check the plant labels or ask for assistance to ensure the plants you select are conducive to your sun, space and soil conditions. • Consider how your plants will look together before you buy them. Place them in your cart and see if their colors and textures complement each other. Do you think they look good? Buy them! If you’re not pleased with how look together, try different plants to obtain the overall effect you want to achieve. • At home, plant and care for your new purchases according to instructions on the labels and enjoy! So now you’re ready — get out there and get gardening. And remember, whatever your source of inspiration, be it a grand garden on a magnificent country estate or container garden tucked humbly in the corner of a balcony, make certain the garden you create is what the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were to Amytis — a place of comfort, contentment, beauty and familiarity. Coming Up In Country: Plan now to make sure you don’t miss these annual gardening events happening this spring in Virginia’s hunt country. Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival April 17, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Downtown Historic Leesburg www.leesburgva.gov Historic Garden Week: Loudoun and Fauquier Garden Club Tour April 18, 1 to 5 p.m. April 19, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.vagardenweek.org Historic Garden Week: Winchester - Clarke County Garden Club Tour April 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 25, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. www.vagardenweek.org Philomont Garden Phair April 24 and 25, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Featuring plant growers, local artisans, garden-themed retailers and more. www.philomontgeneralstore.com [gallery ids="99108,99109,99110,99111,99112,99113,99114" nav="thumbs"]