Countdown to Historic Garden Week in RVA Starts Today

The Richmond tours on the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week start a week from today. While the finishing touches are being applied, we thought we’d whet your appetite for what you will see. The Historic Byrd Park tour takes place Wednesday, April 30th from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. We can’t wait to see these homes and gardens from the inside.

704 Westover Road (Garden Only)

704 Westover Road collage via The Gracious Posse

706 Westover Road

706 Westover Avenue via The Gracious Posse

900 Westover Road

900 Westover Road via The Gracious Posse

906 Westover Road

906 Westover Road via The Gracious Posse

910 Westover Road

910 Westover Road via The Gracious Posse

To avoid lines and save a few bucks, purchase your tickets in advance at local retailers or online here. Get your walking shoes ready, and we’ll see you near Maymont next Wednesday.

salutationa&eApril 23, 2104 

Why Longwood Gardens Won

Topiary garden at Longwood Gardens via The Gracious Posse

Last month, USA Today conducted an on-line poll of America’s best public gardens in North America. Along with many of my RVA friends who spread the word on Facebook, I voted several times for our local treasure, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens (LGBG). One of my favorite places for a long stroll in the spring, LGBG’s 50 acres on the north side of town have become a beehive of activity intended to appeal to a wide variety of interests. When LGBG came in second to Longwood Gardens, I wondered what could top our piece of paradise.

Formal fountain garden at Longwood Gardens via The Gracious Posse

Well last week, Ellen and I got to find out on our creative maintenance getaway to the Brandywine Valley.

Longwood GardensConservatory via The Gracious Posse

The sheer scope and magnitude of Longwood Gardens is jaw-dropping.

Main entrance of Longwood Gardens Conservatory via The Gracious Posse

Created by Pierre duPont in the early 1900′s, it consists of over 1,000 acres of sensory pleasure.

Ancient Rosemary Willow tree at Longwood Gardens via The Gracious Posse

The conservatory itself covers 4 acres and is brimming with tropical and out-of-season displays that take your breath away.

Tropical room in Longwood Gardens Conservatory via The Gracious Posse

This Mr. duPont blended his wealth with his vision to create America’s answer to the gardens of Versailles, and the results are captivating.

Daisy tree at Longwood Gardens via The Gracious PosseHave you ever seen a life-size daisy

Underside of daisy tree at Longwood Gardens via The Gracious Possetree?

Longwood Gardens Conservatory display via The Gracious PosseGiant sized cone flowers dwarf normal-sized hydrangeas.

jCb and Ellen in Longwood Gardens Conservatory via The Gracious PosseWe’ve never seen such large hanging

Hydrangea basket at Longwood Gardens via The Gracious Possehydrangea baskets.

Bonsai at Longwood Gardens via The Gracious PosseThis bonsai cypress has been around since 1930.

Silver foliage in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory via The Gracious Possethe silver room in the Conservatory

Easter display in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory via The Gracious Possepink Easter lilies ready for the holiday

Rams head urn at Longwood Gardens via The Gracious PosseRemarkable garden statuary

Giant foo dog welcomes visitors to the topiary garden at Longwood Gardens via The Gracious Possehighlight the complex structure

Cement urn at Longwood Gardens via The Gracious Posseof the immense gardens. 

Located in such a population-dense center, it is no wonder why Longwood Gardens won the USA Today poll. What left me even more amazed is how LGBG has risen to be second to Longwood in a short period of time. Though left to the City of Richmond by Grace Arents, Lewis Ginter’s niece, in the 1960′s to be used as a garden for the community, LGBG only began to emerge in 1989 thanks to a small yet determined coterie of local folks and the Garden Club of Virginia.

Rose Garden at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden after a rain via The Gracious Posse Gardens don’t grow overnight, but in less than 30 years these visionaries have cultivated a garden to rival the king of American gardens, Longwood Gardens.

Water garden at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden via The Gracious Posse

I am awed and inspired by both of these gifts to the public.

salutationa&eApril 22, 2014

Dogwood Daze in RVA

Dogwood daze via The Gracious Posse

Returning home last week from a few days of what designer/blogger extraordinare Tobi Fairley has dubbed Creative Maintenance, Ellen and I found RVA in a Dogwood Daze.

Dogwood daze via The Gracious Posse

Vistas brimming with white and pink blooms recall the legend of the dogwood tree’s role in the first Easter.

Dogwood daze via The Gracious Posse

I originally heard the story growing up in Eastern Tennessee and recently read Leigh Ann Thornton’s recounting of it here on Southern Coterie.

Dogwood daze via The Gracious Posse

Beholding the red-stained blossoms that serendipitously peaked for this holiday weekend, I wonder whether the late Easter date mandated the long harsh winter we suffered this year.

Dogwood daze close-up via The Gracious Posse

While our suffering withers in comparison to that of the first Easter, the plethora of cross-shaped blossoms filling the landscape provides a captivating reminder of Christ’s love for us.

salutationa&eApril 21, 2014

Serendipity and the Peacock

Today Christians around the world observe Good Friday. 

Crosses at First Baptist Church, The Plains via The Gracious PosseFirst Baptist Church, The Plains, Virginia

Alison and I send our best wishes to our readers for a joyful and meaningful holiday weekend. 

Cross at Sharon Baptist Church via The Gracious PosseSharon Baptist Church, Weems, Virginia

crosses at Villanova via The Gracious PosseVillanova University

Little did we know our recent Take My Breath Away post featuring spectacular peacocks would prompt alert posse pal lDd to inform us that ancient Christians used the peacock as a symbol of eternal life. 

This came from an ancient legend that the flesh of the peacock did not decay. It is also associated with the resurrection of Christ because it sheds it old feathers every year and grows, newer, brighter ones each year. If the peacock is portrayed drinking from a vase, it symbolizes a christian drinking the waters of eternal life. In addition, the “multitude of eyes” upon its stunningly beautiful fan tail suggested the all seeing eye of God.

–from Jesus Walk Bible Study Series

Peacock Tail via The Gracious Posse

How very serendipitous that we featured the peacocks during Lent! This new information reinforces our gratitude to our readers. Please continue to share your collective thoughts, images, wisdom, humor and talent in the celebration of inspired living with practical style.

Cross at Middleburg Methodist Church via The Gracious Posse

Happy Easter!


April 18, 2014

Memphis/Milano ~ A Garden Club of America Flower Show

Beneath the surface, garden clubs are complex organizations rooted in several traditional programs. When I joined mine a few years ago, I expected speakers and hands-on demonstrations, outreach and legislative initiatives, and fundraising through garden tours (the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week being among the largest in the country). Flower shows seemed another take on the garden tour. Design something beautiful along a basic theme like Modern Art, the theme of this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, and submit.

My simplistic assumptions once again prove wrong. Turns out flower shows are an island unto themselves with their own language and detailed rules for displaying and judging. Though I have just begun to scratch the surface of this foreign land, I can still enjoy and appreciate the entries that talented and savvy ladies create for flower shows across the country.

Take a look at these submissions for Memphis/Milano, a Garden Club of America flower show hosted recently by the Memphis Garden Club. The theme referred to an obscure international furniture movement in the 1980s reacting against modernism. Intrepid special correspondent, aMl, covered the show for The Gracious Posse and sent back these iPhone pictures of unique floral interpretations that will leave you amazed by the ingenuity of the floral designers.

Interpretation of Italian sideboard at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posseinspired by 

Beverly sideboard, 1981 at Memphis/Milano

Beverly sideboard, 1981
Ettore Sottsass (Italian, born in Austria, 1917-2007)
Wood covered with plastic laminate and natural briar

Interpretation of Kristall bedside table at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posseinspired by

Kristall bedside table, 1981 at Memphis/MilanoKristall bedside table, 1981
Michele De Lucchi (Italian, b. 1952)
Plastic laminate, lacquered wood and metal


Interpretation of “Bay” table lamp at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posseinspired by

“Bay” table lamp, 1983 at Memphis/Milano“Bay” table lamp, 1983
Ettore Sottsass (Italian, born in Austria, 1917-2007)
Table lamp in glass, aluminum and plexiglass


Interpretation of Gritti bookcase Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posseinspired by

Gritti bookcase, 1981 at Memphis/Milano
Gritti bookcase, 1981
Andrea Branzi (Italian, b. 1938)
Bookcase in plastic laminate, wood, metal and glass

 Interpretation of Sottsass’s Casablanca bookcase at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posseinspired by

Sottsass’s Casablanca bookcase at Memphis MilanoCasablanca bookcase, 1981
Ettore Sottsass (Italian, born in Austria, 1917-2007)
Plastic laminate with internal shelves


Fibonacci-influenced designs also made an appearance at the Memphis show.

Fibonacci tulips at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

Fibonacci wreath at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

Fibonacci vases at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

In addition, flower shows include horticultural judging for best specimen in a category. Hellebores

Helleboros horticulture competition at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

and daffodils

Daffodil in horticulture competition at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

are now appearing in RVA gardens, as well. Thank goodness spring and its flowering branches

Flowering branches in horticulture competition at Memphis/Milano via The Gracious Posse

have finally arrived.

salutationa&eApril 17, 2014

Time to Get Hanging in The Garden

Historic Garden Week 2014 tour book via The Gracious Posse

The Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week gets underway in 10 days, a bit later than usual thanks to Easter’s late date this year. The schedule, though, suits the weather as the blossoms all seem to be running at least a week behind. If the delays leave you longing for a garden fix, the Hanging in the Garden art show at Brazier Gallery may be just what you need.

Hanging in the Garden ad via The Gracious Posse

The exhibit includes garden-related paintings inspired by the homes and gardens on this year’s Richmond tours and historic garden sites restored by the Garden Club of Virginia. The works have been created by Hang Five, a group of the following five local artists who are donating a portion of the proceeds from this show to the Garden Club of Virginia’s restoration projects:

Loryn Brazier

Loryn Brazier’s “Candy Stippers” camellias at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Loryn Brazier’s peonies at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Loryn Brazier’s “Hello Spring” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Loryn Brazier’s "Budding Beauty” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Loryn Brazier’s “Finding the Sun” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Beth Marchant

Beth Marchant’s “A Pair of Peonies” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Beth Marchant’s “Morning on Westover” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Beth Marchant’s “Westover Light” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Nancy Mauck

Nancy Mauck’s “Pink Hydrangea” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

David Tanner

David Tanner’s “Spring in Byrd Park” at Hanging in the Garden


Tom Wise.

Tom Wise’s “Flowers” at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

Tom Wise’s roses at Hanging in the Garden via The Gracious Posse

So much lovelier in person than what my unworthy photos convey, you’ve just got to visit to fully appreciate the work of this talented group. The show runs through April 30th, but the paintings are flying off the walls so do try to stop in sooner rather than later. The show will put you in a Spring-y frame of mind.

salutationa&eApril 16, 2014

The Generosity of Our Artists in Residence

With gratitude I salute three of our Artists in Residence today. All three cheerfully donated a work of art to Make the Magic, a fundraiser my daughter mBf spearheaded last weekend for Camp Kesem (UNC/Duke). The camp serves children who are affected by a parent’s cancer. Camp Kesem (Kesem means magic in Hebrew) was founded in 2000 by a Stanford student and has grown to 62 college campuses. Campers attend free of charge, so fundraising is critical. Seeing UNC and Duke students working in happy collaboration together alone was worth the price of admission!

Make the Magic, North Carolina style, was held at the Big Boss Brewing Company in Raleigh. 

Big Boss Logo via The Gracious Posse

Big Boss Brewing hosts Make the Magic via The Gracious Posse

The guests dined on barbecue (what else?), Big Boss craft brews and homemade cake pops while touring the brewery

LDB with Brew Kettle via The Gracious Posse

 and listening to testimonials from campers, parents and volunteers. A banner created by the campers

Camp Kesem Banner via The Gracious Posse

made me weak in the knees. 

 The event included a silent auction, raffle and Heads or Tails game. mBf secured these enticing works from 

Sunny Goode's Abstract via The Gracious PosseSunny Goode

Becky Jessee's cows via The Gracious PosseBecky Jessee


Meredith Kittrell's Sound Side via The Gracious PosseMeredith Kittrell

for the silent auction, and I raised a cup o’ Big Boss that night to our artist friends. I was proud to tell my fellow bidders all about them and how appreciative I was of their participation. Their generosity will impact the lives of the Kesem campers and the college students learning the hard work of fundraising. Many thanks to Sunny, Becky and Meredith for helping to Make the Magic.

salutatione&aApril 15, 2014

ASK Fun Walk and 5k – Join Team Gracious Posse!

Childhood cancer is an equal opportunity offender. It strikes without regard to income, race, socio-economic status or convenience. Believe me, there is nothing scarier than having a precious child diagnosed with that dread disease. My family knows firsthand as our dear mBf was diagnosed with leukemia, a journey which I described in Winning the Lottery

ASK banner

We were fortunate to have support of loving family, friends and neighbors, but I saved mentioning one big THANK YOU to a special organization here in RVA that helped us through her years of treatment. I dedicate this post to ASK, the Childhood Cancer Foundation, whose mission is 

Making Life Better for Children with Cancer

Not only does ASK fund clinical positions (child life therapist, chaplain, psychologist and program coordinator) at the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic at VCU Health Systems, it seeks to meet the non-clinical needs of the sick children and their families. I have fond memories of attending the circus and the Nutcracker and its Christmas Party with our family, all courtesy of ASK’s outreach into our community. These provided a brief but welcome opportunity to focus on family fun together and forget about blood counts, clinic visits and hospital stays. Those clinic visits, the stress of which I refuse to put into words, became more bearable when upon arrival mBf would thrill to find the Ted the Art Dude (an ASK-funded position at the time) at the table with a new craft activity.

ASK relies on meaningful fundraising to meet the needs of 1000 children annually. The biggest fundraiser is the ASK Fun Walk and 5KASK Fun Walk banner

This year the walk will take place at The Diamond on the Boulevard at 9:00 a.m. The course even crosses home plate! Registration costs $30 in advance or $35 on Race Day.  LDB and I are walking for Team Gracious Posse of course. If you’d like to join us, click here to register. If you can’t make it but would like to donate, click here. Hope to see you there!

salutatione&aApril 14, 2014 

Preparing for Easter

Palm Sunday is this weekend, and even though Easter is later this year than anyone can ever recall, I still feel like it has snuck up on me. Gone are the days when my children couldn’t wait to tear open their Easter baskets. Though my children still expect a gift and a chocolate egg, no one misses our house filled with Easter decor. Unlike the posse’s resident Easter-holic, sSn, whose Egg-stravagnza

Dining room egg-stravaganza via The Gracious Possedining room egg-stravaganza

we featured here last year, my own holiday decor will be limited to a tabletop display of Herend bunnies with a few colored eggs. Thank goodness I have the flowering of the church on Easter Saturday

Easter bedecked church column via The Gracious Posse

and our annual casual Easter lunch where I can get my fill of Easter decorations and sweets.

Easter basket with white tulips via The Gracious Posse

Easter basket with flowers via The Gracious Posse

Easter bunny cake via The Gracious Posse

homemade chocolate Easter Egg topped with sugar bunny via The Gracious Posse

ice cream cone Easter carrots via The Gracious PosseCone is coated with orange melting disk. After it hardens, fill with chocolate eggs and jelly beans and wrap in tissue paper to look like a carrot.

Besides your Lenten fast, how do you prepare for the Easter holiday?

salutationa&eApril 11, 2014

Meredith Kittrell Shares Her Art at Roundabout Art Collective and Moondog Cottage

Last week we featured Meredith Kittrell’s welcoming art-filled home in our latest Artist…in Residence profile. Today we are visiting her gallery, Roundabout Art Collective, and studio at Moondog Cottage

Meredith Kittrell, Susan Dahlin and Susan Woodson are women on a mission. In Raleigh, North Carolina, they have established an artistic compound across from one of our favorite shopping destinations, Cameron Village, in the heart of the state’s capital.  They have become successful artrepreneurs not only because of their talent but also from their desire to serve and improve their community through their artistic endeavors.

Roundabout Art Collective

Roundabout Art Collective via The Gracious Posse

Roundabout Art Collective is a co-op of 20 artists who create in paint, metals, photography, jewelry, pottery, glass, furniture and apparel. All share the responsibilities and show privileges of the gallery.  The co-op’s mission resonates throughout its members’ creativity and activity in the community:

To promote local art within the community as a cooperative artists’ organization. Roundabout offers one-of-a-kind local art for your home and business. We, as member artists, run a retail shop to sell and display our original work. But we also have an obligation to educate the general public on the appreciation of the arts that is so important in all of our daily lives.

works by Yuko Taylor via The Gracious Posseworks by Yuko Taylor

art by Susan Woodson via The Gracious PosseI Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Susan Woodson

Kittrell studio and gallery via The Gracious Posse07Works by featured artist of the month Susan Parrish; centerpiece entitled My Mother, Myself

Kittrell studio and gallery via The Gracious Posse05jewelry by Mary Ann Scherr

Kittrell paintings17Meredith describes an elephant mourning its calf, a scene she witnessed while in Africa recently, that was the inspiration for the painting.

In addition to the 20 member artists, the Roundabout’s Loft shows up-and-coming artists who want to display their works temporarily without the responsibility of joining the co-op.

The Loft at Roundabout Art Collective via The Gracious Posse

The Loft at Roundabout Art Collective via The Gracious Posse

True to its mission, the cooperative is active philanthropically, helping raise funds for the art department at Broughton High School, build homes for Habitat for Humanity and host fundraisers of all kinds in its gallery. In October of 2013, Roundabout received a Raleigh Citizens Advisory Award for its contribution to the culture of Raleigh. 

The awards are designed to acknowledge those unsung heroes who work without thought of praise to make our communities better at the grassroots level and in so doing, elevate the quality of our lives and of our city. 

– Raleigh Citizens Advisory Council 

 Moondog Cottage

Moondog Cottage via The Gracious Posse

When the quaint cottage next door to Roundabout became available a year after Roundabout’s doors opened, Meredith, Susan and Susan jumped on the opportunity to establish a painting and teaching studio within its walls. The building was well-worn at best, so these ladies rolled up their sleeves and art smocks to transform it into an inspiring place to create and learn.

Meredith Kittrell's studio via The Gracious Posse

The walls of Meredith’s Moondog studio above and below show works in process and for sale. She thrives on the freedom that her art provides to paint in a variety of subjects and styles.

Meredith Kittrell's studio via The Gracious Posse

Susan Dahlin's studio via The Gracious PosseSusan Dahlin’s work space

The studio’s popular classes, held in the classroom below, are advertised only on Facebook and fill up quickly.

Moondog Cottage classroom via The Gracious Posse

We can only imagine how much fun it would be to take a class with Meredith, 

Meredith Kittrell in her Moondog studio via The Gracious Posse

shown here in her studio at Moondog modeling her son’s hand-crafted cowboy hat.

Celebrate RAC’s 4th Anniversary and Slow Art Day

Did you know this Saturday, April 12 is Slow Art Day? According to its promoters, it is a day set aside to

help more people discover for themselves the joy of looking at and loving art


Roundabout Art Collective celebrates its 4th anniversary on this day of global day of art in the slow lane. If you’re in Raleigh, stop by and toast this creative group. Don’t forget to tell Meredith that The Gracious Posse says Congratulations.

4th anniversary party invitation for Roundabout Art Collective via The Gracious Posse


salutatione&a April 10, 2014