‘Art in Bloom’ – Martinsville-Henry County Garden Day 2017

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One of the sculptures in the new Art Garden at the Historic Little Post Office uses horseshoes to create a sphere of hearts done by our own Jessie Ward. It is one of three sculptures being installed now so the garden will be able to open in time for “Art In Bloom,” the Martinsville-Henry County Garden Day, April 26. The garden and Little Post Office comprise one stop on the tour that showcases homes, museums and more in or near the Arts & Culture District.

Martinsville has discovered the “art” in its name. And that will be evident on April 26, Martinsville-Henry County Garden Day.

Tickets are now available at www.vagardenweek.org for “Art In Bloom,” a home and garden tour, plus much more. The tour highlights the Arts and Culture District of a city with history rooted in tobacco, textiles and furniture.

Interpretive floral arrangements will grace tour sites.

“Imagine a work of art brought to life by flowers,” said Cindy Edgerton, the Garden Day tour chair. “There will be flower arrangements at the tour sites that interpret works of art – from paintings to cars.

“The interpretation might re-create the whole piece, incorporating its colors, design, shape and style. Or the arrangement might focus on one of those elements.”

The special arrangements can be seen in nearby homes. One will be “Chellowe,” 1119 Knollwood Place, Georgian Colonial river house with traditional décor. Another is the King Uptown loft at 29A Jones Street overlooking the courthouse square. Yet another tour stop, the Colonial Revival Simmons House, 209 Starling Avenue, once a residence, is now used as a B&B and for meeting space. The homes will be open to visitors for tours.

Arrangements will also be displayed in the district’s museums, gardens, a church and more, which will open their doors for the tour.

A tour highlight will be the Historic Little Post Office, 207 Starling Avenue. The red-brick Queen Anne-style building – with notable ironwork and its original stained glass door – was built in 1893 to serve as a stop on the U.S. Postal Service’s expanding star route system.

Today, the Little Post Office has a new lease on life, thanks to its renovation by Will Gravely and Piedmont Arts. Piedmont Arts uses the space as a setting for special events and art exhibitions.

On Garden Day, visitors to the Little Post Office can see a watercolor Christmas card collection. The work was done by the late, well-respected, local artist Wanda Prillaman. Outside, the Little Post Office will have an art garden with sculptures. And what might be considered automotive works of art, Porsches, will be on display. (There will be unique cars at all tour sites.)

Potable works of art – wine — will be available at the Hamlet Vineyards wine truck. It will be parked in the shared driveway of the Simmons House and the Little Post Office. And wearable works of art will be available from the Janice Cain clothing truck, which also will be parked in the driveway. And the Daily Grind will be on hand to offer coffee house fare.

The Simmons House itself has a spacious front porch with plenty of chairs. Visitors can feel free to use it for casual dining.

Visitors can take a bit of Garden Day home. Everything Outdoors will have plants for sale at the Simmons House driveway.

A few doors down at Piedmont Arts’ main building, 215 Starling Avenue, will feature works from the Wanda Prillaman Watercolor Invitational Exhibit.

Piedmont Arts will also serve as Garden Day tour headquarters. There, visitors can buy tour tickets and pick up boxed lunches they have ordered ahead. The museum will

offer make its lot available for parking.

At 23 Starling Avenue, just east of the Little Post Office, stands First Baptist Church. It, too, will offer plenty of parking, Better yet, visitors can see more works by Wanda Prillaman, who worshipped at First Baptist. The church also has faceted glass windows created by the artist, Dr. Henry Lee Willett, whose Philadelphia company is one of the leaders in creating stained glass and faceted glass windows.

Next door at 21 Starling Avenue is the Virginia Museum of Natural History, a repository of some quite ancient “artworks,” as well as tools and artifacts used by ancient inhabitants of the area. The museum is rolling out the red carpet for Garden Day visitors to see. It begins at 6 p.m. with a happy hour reception on April 25, open to all on the night before Garden Day. The museum will have beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres. Visitors can check out the museum’s galleries. And they can see what’s on display on two curator tables with special items, some rarely on display to the public. On Garden Day, there will be six curator tables displaying special artifacts.

Over in the center of town at 1 East Main Street stands the Historic Henry County Courthouse, with origins that date to 1824. When the building housed the court, it was the epicenter of life in the town and county. It now houses the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center & Museum, thanks to the MHC Historical Society.

And thanks to the Garden Club of Virginia, the grounds of the historic courthouse have been restored. That work, along with restoration of historic gardens and landscapes around the state, such as Mount Vernon and the University of Virginia, were funded by proceeds from past garden day tours around the state.

Not far from the courthouse, the Fayette Area Historical Initiative African American Museum and Cultural Center stands at 211 Fayette Street. FAHI is the go-to source for information, photos, artifacts and oral histories that tell the story of African American life and accomplishments in Martinsville and Henry County. The museum has a display of memorabilia from churches, the backbone of the community.

For more information about Martinsville and Henry County or any questions, stop in at the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center, 191 Fayette Street.

  • What: Martinsville-Henry County Garden Day
  • When: Wednesday, April 26, 2017
  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Headquarters: Piedmont Arts Association, 215 Starling Ave., Martinsville, VA

Tickets: $15 pp. for advance tickets; $20 pp. for tickets sold on tour day. $10 pp. for children ages 6 to 12. Available on tour day at the tour headquarters and tour homes. Proceeds benefit restoration projects of the Garden Club of Virginia.

Advance Tickets: Available online at www.vagardenweek.org. After January 15, at Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center, Piedmont Arts Association, and Patrick County Chamber of Commerce.

Facebook: Historic Garden Week in Martinsville and Henry County

Instagram: Historic Garden Week in MHC

Sponsors: The Martinsville Garden Club, The Garden Study Club and the Garden Club of Virginia