UVA Gardens in Full Bloom, Just in Time for Historic Garden Week

April 18, 2024 By Traci Hale, vmv7mc@virginia.edu Traci Hale, vmv7mc@virginia.edu

Azaleas and camellias are in full bloom as spring reaches its peak on Grounds and several of the University of Virginia gardens, originally conceived in Thomas Jefferson’s plans for his Academical Village, will be celebrated this week as part of the annual Garden Club of Virginia Historic Garden Week.

UVA and the Garden Club of Virginia have long partnered to maintain the Pavilion Gardens, including multiple restoration projects that began in the 1940s. 

In addition to a number of tours and open houses held in the Pavilion Gardens, at Carr’s Hill and at the Darden Arboretum, the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library will be hosting a show-and-tell presentation in the Harrison-Small auditorium Monday at 1 p.m.

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“The event will feature a display of botanical and nature illustrations at Special Collections, including Humphry Repton’s ‘Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening,’ an 1840 edition of John James Audubon’s ‘Birds of America,’ and Thomas Jefferson’s architectural drawings for the gardens surrounding the Lawn, among several other rare and unique items,” instruction librarian and archivist Jacob Hopkins said. “Visitors will witness firsthand a wide range of visual treasures preserved and made accessible at UVA Special Collections.” 

The event is limited to 25 participants on a first-come, first-served basis.

Ahead of Historic Garden Week, UVA Today visited several of the highlighted gardens and caught up with UVA gardener John Sauer, who has helped maintain the beauty of Grounds for more than 50 years. 

A side view of a bench in Carr's Hill garden
Carr’s Hill was renovated, and the gardens updated in 2018-19.
Close up of white flowers in Carr's garden
As part of Historic Garden Week, the Carr’s Hill garden will be open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and the house will be open 1-3 p.m. Monday.
S curve wall featuring many flowers in their spring bloom decorating the top of the wall
Six of the 10 Pavilion Gardens are divided in half by serpentine walls, with the upper portion called the “Pavilion Garden” and the lower area the “Hotel Garden,” according to gardener John Sauer.
A path through a pavilion garden
Sauer said Thomas Jefferson “intended the residents of the pavilions to design and maintain their own gardens.”
A pink flower bush in bloom in a pavilion garden
While professors continue to live in the pavilions, the gardens are open to students and the public.
A path that diverges into two options with white flowers to the left
The Pavilion Gardens incorporate shade trees, flowering shrubs and hedges, lawns, benches, gates and the serpentine walls.
A nice shaded portion of the path with white flowers in bloom on the left and pink flowers in bloom on the right
In Pavilion Garden IV, Sauer said the “azaleas are in full glory.”
Pavilion building featuring famous landscape architect Alden Hopkins
The Garden Club of Virginia commissioned landscape architect Alden Hopkins in the mid-20th century to restore the Pavilion Gardens in the Colonial Revival style.
Japanese garden trees from the Darden school
The Japanese Garden is part of the LaCross Botanical Garden at the Darden School of Business.
New Arboretum and Botanical garden at Darden
The Arboretum and LaCross Botanical Gardens at the Darden School of Business are new additions to Grounds.

Media Contact

Traci Hale

Senior Editor University Communications